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Guide To Writing A Literary Analysis Essay: Structure And Examples

23 Aug 2018Essay Writing Guides

Many students are assigned to create a literary essay. This is one of the most widespread academic tasks for students of school, college, and university levels. While they often have to deal with it, not everyone knows how to write a literary analysis essay well. There are too many concerns and questions. Students often have no idea of how to structure their work, where to look for evidence or even how to conduct an effective analysis but this post is aimed to shed light on this matter.

Let’s start with a definition. As implied by the name of this task, it's the only goal is to make a clear analysis of a specific piece of literature, identify its purpose, and describe how and why the author has been trying to reach this purpose. What else should you know? Read further to learn the main elements of this paper’s structure, how to create an outline, and find great examples to help you cope with the task easier.

Outline Structure For A Literary Analysis Essay

The whole piece should contain three sections – an opening clause, main body, and the conclusion. It is important to have a good outline. Below are the basic elements of the structure with examples.

1. Intro

a) Hook – it can be a fact, quote, creative idea or anything else that catches your readers’ attention

Example: “The terrifying scenes a soldier experiences on the front probably follow him throughout his life – if he manages to survive the war”

b) Thesis – make a statement that relates to the main theme of the work, clarify the subject and main idea, and suggest how the author has revealed this theme

Example: “In a Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens shows the process by which a wasted life can be redeemed”

2. Body – usually consists of several paragraphs (one per each point you make) that have similar organization and are linked with smooth lead-ins and transitions:

a) Topic sentence – define the main idea of your point

b) Evidence – support your idea

c) Commentary – define how the evidence relates to your idea

d) Concluding sentence – make a short conclusion

3. Conclusionthe final part of your work that should pursue one or more of these goals:

a) Assess whether the author had successfully achieved his or her goal

b) Define how the topic of your essay is related to the specified book

c) Make predictions

d) Make a personal statement on the topic

e) Evaluate the book’s significance or value

f) Make a flashback to your hook in the introduction.

How To Cite Textual Evidence In Your Literary Analysis Essay?

Use logical and clear evidence that supports the points you bring to the readers. Textual evidence plays a vital role in these assignments. You can write a 1000 word essay that would have a deep meaning but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have strong evidence to prove your arguments.

Provide evidence in your text. Present examples, evidence or facts with proper citations unless you came up with them on your own without any external sources. Let’s see how you have to cite evidence when writing a literary analysis essay:

  • Summary – giving a concise description of a longer original text written in your own words

  • Paraphrase – making a logical restatement of someone else’s idea (usually of the same size as the original piece)

  • Direct Quotation – an idea provided in the same wording as in the original piece surrounded by quotation marks

  • Specific Detail – drawing a single point (detail) from the larger piece (usually restated).

The main reason why students want to do an excellent job on their literary analysis essay is to get good grades and succeed in the classroom. This type of work also helps you enhance many vital skills.

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