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Short and Easy Guide for Writing a Literary Analysis

January 30, 2019

Many students dislike writing literary analysis and see no point in doing this. However, the task is a great practice for developing an analytical intuition and critical thinking.
No matter what your teacher asks you to write: a short paragraph that explains some facts about a piece of literature or an analytical essay that consists of several pages, your preparation shall start from understanding the aim of the work.

 

A Literary Analysis Writing

 

Reading a book, a novel or a poem, we accept the text as a whole. In other words, we see a completed imaginary picture. However, if we start to think about the written words more carefully and analyze each sentence, phrase or even a word, we may see a lot of information that is not very obvious, however, is interesting and valuable to a reader.

 

Literary analysis is just like reading between lines. It allows us to see another side of written information and great shades of its meaning. In the beginning it may sound boring to you, however, later you may even find it interesting and intriguing.

 

How to Read a Text for Literary Analysis

 

Any analysis starts with reading the text that you are going to analyze. However, this time try to read the text more thoughtfully, finding answers to the following questions:

 

  • What is the message the author wanted to share intentionally?
    Usually, it’s the easiest question to answer. You have just to read the text and to understand the information it gives.
  • What is the true personality of the main characters?
    This question needs careful thinking. Try not only to notice direct descriptions of the characters but also to analyze their actions and the conditions that influenced them. Sometimes you may even discover real-life prototypes of the literary characters or those real-life figures that donated their features to the novel heroes.
  • Why the author chose certain writing means and ways?
    Creating a poem or a novel, authors are trying to choose the size, tone, and language that would help to create the most appropriate atmosphere for the described event. Very often we do not notice these methods. However, if we look deeper, we will see the great work that stands behind each literary masterpiece.
    Moreover, sometimes an author may use special elements unintentionally. However, these elements may reveal some additional information about an author’s attitude to the described events or characters.

 


 

What a Literary Analysis Is

 

Developing a clear understanding of what literary analysis is, you will find the best way of analyzing the texts.

 

In fact, literary analysis is an essay that helps to understand a piece of literature in a better and deeper way. It may be aimed at analyzing the whole text or understanding some characters or events described in the text.

 

No matter which type of literary work you are supposed to analyze, the methods that are used for that will be the same or will slightly differ. In order to make your literary analysis detailed and informative, you shall start with separating a text on some parts and elements to work with each of them.

 

Analyzing text, you shall pay attention to those elements that are less obvious, for example:

 

  • the connection between the main information that an author wanted to express and the methods and words that were chosen for expressing it;
  • the connection between the plot and the sub-plot of a literary work;
  • the connection between the described events and the reality of the author.

 

Sometimes it’s also wise to learn more about the author himself, trying to understand the personality and the possible mood of the writer. You may discover a lot of elements that could be influenced by some events from the childhood of the author, reflection of his political or moral views, etc.

 

A Short Definition of Literary Analysis

 

Literary Analysis is a detailed and complex analysis of elements and expressive methods that are used by an author for discovering and defining their effects on a reader and their role for expressing the main idea of the text. The literary analysis concentrates on a theme, topic, characters, plot, methods, and devices created or chosen by an author.

 

Structure and Format of Literary Analysis

 

Just like any other writing work, the literary analysis shall be properly formatted and structured. This helps to group and organize the information in a more logical and comfortable to read way.
The structure of your literary analysis is similar to others essay that you used to deal with:

 

  • Introduction;
  • Thesis Statement;
  • Body paragraph;
  • Final Conclusion.

 

Introduction

 

The introductory part is aimed at telling your reader what the essay is about. It shall include elements like:

 

  • Data about the analyzed piece of literature: title, a name of the author, year of creation and other information that may be helpful for identifying the subject.
  • A statement or statements that may express the main aim of your essay.
  • A thesis statement that shall be a final part of the introductory paragraph. It shall be short, laconic and very informative. Some writing experts advise to include a question that you are going to answer later in your essay.

 

There is an easy way to check if the introductory paragraph is informative enough. Check if it answers the following questions:

 

WHO: the information about an author and its creation.
WHAT: the main question or issue that is going to be solved.
HOW: the methods and ways that are going to be used in order to reach the aim.
WHY: the idea about how the results can be used in real life, for which purposes and why the author of the essay choose the topic.

 

Body Paragraph

 

The common mistake of many students is writing the body of an essay as a single paragraph. This part of an essay is the biggest and most informative. It can be difficult to read or to understand it. That’s why it’s better to write two or more paragraphs with several sub-paragraphs if necessary.

 

There are also several great tips that can help you to write a great body paragraph:

 

  • Use a separate paragraph for each statement or an idea. It’s better to express the main idea at the beginning of the paragraph. Check if it coincides with the general idea of an essay that is mentioned in the thesis.
  • Supporting your ideas with some facts can be useful. However, it’s also necessary to support your ideas with extracts from the piece of literature and quotes. For this purpose, you can use extracts of dialogues or monologues of the characters.
  • Try to understand and to describe an author’s choice of literature techniques instead of giving simple definitions to them.
  • End each paragraph with some important information. Psychologists say that readers will accept information better if it’s given at the beginning and at the end of a paragraph.
  • Sometimes it’s very difficult not to step away from the main aim. To avoid that, check if each of your paragraphs corresponds to the main topic mentioned in the introductory part.

 

Conclusion

 

The final part of the essay is shorter but not less important than the body part. Some students think that the conclusion is a short and very laconic rewrite of the body paragraph. However, it’s wrong to think this way.

 

The conclusion part is aimed at answering the main question that was described or mentioned in a thesis. It also shows how the statements that were mentioned and described in the body paragraph support the main conclusion.

 

5 Common Types of Literary Analysis

 

There are several types of literary analysis. They differ due to pieces of literature they describe, their main aim and methods that are used for analysis.

Here, we describe some of the existing types that are commonly used for academic programs:

 

Close Reading

 

This type of analysis is used for noticing and analyzing small details and parts of the text. For example, in this case, great attention is paid to some minor actions, gestures of the characters, choice of words, etc. This type of analysis allows noticing the smallest elements of the general picture created by an author and understanding it in a better way.

 

Theoretical

 

Unlike the type that is described above, the theoretical type of analysis is more concentrated on the general idea or some key elements. This analysis allows evaluating the main theory described in the literary work. It may also include a comparison between the described theory and other possible theories connected to a subject.

 

Comparative

 

This type of analysis means that a writer of an essay compares two or more elements that may have a connection to the piece of literature. In fact, there are different subtypes of the comparative analysis. It may be a comparison between two elements or characters that are used in the same text, a comparison between two literary works of the same or different authors, etc.

 

Contextual

 

This type of analysis requires a careful investigation of the historical, geographical and cultural background of the events that are described in a novel or a poem. This analysis is helpful for a better understanding of the information that is given in the author’s text.

 

Applied

 

The applied type of literary analysis is aimed at revealing your own attitude to the written text. Many students think that this means that writing an applied analysis can be less difficult than dealing with other types of analysis. In fact, it’s not really true. This type of analysis allows you to be more creative, however, it never means that the analysis shall look less critical and deep.

 

Usage of Examples for Literary Analysis

 

Using correct and illustrative examples may be a great method to support and explain your statements. Which examples can be used?

 

  • Description of similar situations from your personal experience or experience of some people you know.
  • Description of situations that are related to more understandable reality. For example, an explanation of how an event mentioned in an analyzed historical novel could be interpreted nowadays.
  • Describing situations that are mentioned in other pieces of literature.

 

Alternative Solution

 

It’s always a nice way to read some additional guidelines or explanations and to practice for a while before writing an excellent literature analysis. However, students’ life is more complicated than it may appear.

 

Sometimes students have too much work, feel unmotivated to write an essay or simply think that working on an essay or another type of writing assignment can ruin some of their great plans.
There’s always an alternative solution for situations like that. For example, applying to our writing service in order to receive some help! If something goes wrong with the preparation of your writing paper, there’s no need to worry. We are always ready to save you!