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Steps before starting a literary analysis essay

If a student can learn how to properly conduct a literary analysis, they will have the tools to understand and dissect any piece of literature they come across throughout their school or college life. What actually is a literary analysis and how is one completed?

There are many different literary analysis introduction that are completed by students before their graduation and a literary analysis is one of them. If you have yet to come across one or if you have never heard of one, by the end of this article you’ll know how to start a literary analysis essay the right away.

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What is a literary analysis essay?

A literary analysis is the analysis of a piece of literature where we try to figure out what the author was trying to achieve with their work. We look at things like what the message is within the story and what method they had used to get it across to us the reader. It is conducted by reading a piece of text and taking notes on your thoughts throughout the read. These notes and thoughts are developed into a structure and expanded to form an in-depth analysis.

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Action plan to write a good literary analysis essay

1) Read a Book

The first step is to read the book that you wish to analyze and take notes. Look for different literary devices that the author is using as the story develops. This could be alliteration, imagery, metaphors, allusions, allegories, repetition, flashback, foreshadowing, or many of the other techniques typically used by authors.


Focus on key themes the author is using, these tend to be authority, religion, coming of age, governments, good vs evil, war along with others. Recognize these and take a note each time the author relates to these themes.

Historical Context

Pay attention to the historical context of the writing. Unless the story is based on a time void, it will be based in a time and location and this may affect the language and type of writing that is used. It will also have a heavy influence on the characters personalities and interests.

Find Your Arguments

While reading, takes notes of what you think are the key talking points in the story. These could be plot twists, life-changing events, or controversial events. Whatever they may be, know what they are before beginning your essay.

2) Answer questions

Now that you have all your notes, ask yourself some key questions to keep your writing on topic. We have listed several useful questions below:

· Why did the author write this work?

· What is the theme of the book?

· What are the symbols?

· How are characters developed?

· How is the writing style linked to the topic?

· How do the characters develop?

Write a 5 paragraph essay to answer these questions and you will have most of the context for your analysis done.

3) Analyze relations between characters

Another key aspect is to make sure your literary analysis paper contains the relationship between each of the characters. Character development and how they interact with another is usually the most important part of every story. If there are changes to relationships speak about it in your analysis.

4) Develop your thesis

The art of writing a good paper is to develop your literary analysis thesis. The thesis is the main idea of your essay and you should present it in a statement at the beginning of your argument. You will then support your thesis through the rest of your writing. You will make your perfect thesis using action verbs, quotations, and discovering main and supporting ideas.

5) Write an outline

Now you need to outline your paper in terms of structure. A good example would be:

Thesis statement

I. Introduction

II. Provide background information and historical context

III. Introduce the author's main theme

IV. Establish how imagery helps create the theme

V. Conclusion

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So there you have a clear outline of how to start your literary analysis essay. The key is to prepare your work before you start writing to ensure you are efficient and the quality of your work is at its best. For further essay help visit, we can even write a literature review for you, so you don't have to worry about it.

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