Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

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Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

  • Mrs. Abler

Begin with the basics

  • Read the book or books assigned
  • Ask relevant questions like:
    • Why did the author write this?
    • What is the theme?
    • What are some symbols?
    • How are the characters developed?
    • How is the style relevant to the content?
    • What do the characters learn?
    • What literary terms are addressed and why?

Look for connections and patterns

  • Ask some more questions:
    • How are the characters connected to the themes?
    • How are the themes, characters, and symbols connected?
    • What does the format and style suggest about the story?
    • What are my connections to the story?

(Do some research.)

  • Maybe. Not all the time.
    • Find out about the author.
    • What do other critics say about the book?
    • Has the author published anything about the book?
    • What do other authors say about the book?
    • What is the historical context?

Develop a thesis statement.

  • Thesis statements are not questions.
  • Thesis statements are not mere observations.
  • Thesis statements function in two ways:
    • They introduce the main idea that will be developed in the text of the essay.
    • They analyze or illuminate the text, often in terms of literary elements.


  • Gary Soto’s , Fausto’s Guilt, analyzes the story’s plot and character development to reveal the main theme.

When applicable, use three examples to support your main idea:

Three ideas that support that idea:

    • Ann Aguirre mirrors the fragmentation of her characters’ lives through her novel’s non-linear structure, specifically through her use of flashback, stream of consciousness, and shifts in point of view.

Locate quotations that support your thesis statement.

  • As a rule of thumb, try to find a direct quotation to support each element contained in the thesis statement.
    • Examples of plot and character development.

Writing an introduction.

  • An introduction is typically only one paragraph. The thesis statement is placed at the very end of the introductory paragraph.

An insignificant sentence:

  • Literature often portrays characters who have many conflicts.

All sentences should have weight and meaning.

  • They may introduce background.
  • They may introduce new concepts and/or definitions.
  • They may provide transitions.
  • They may introduce quotations.
  • They may provide facts and support.

An effectively-written and well-organized introductory paragraph should act as a signpost for the rest of the paper.

A good introduction essentially writes the rest of the essay for you.

V. Conclusion

  • V. Conclusion
  • It is sometimes helpful to think of the conclusion as a reversal of your introduction.
  • You may want to begin by rephrasing your thesis statement.

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