Literary Analysis Essay - A Complete Guide with Examples

literary analysis essay writing 5

A literary analysis essay is one of the most commonly assigned tasks in academics, particularly in college students and high school. In general, the task is assumed to be a version of academic writing that is a set of both, writing skills and analyzing skills. The aim of such writing is to help the students improvise their interpretive and analyzing skills and abilities.

This article will help you grasp a thorough understanding of how a literary essay should be written.

Definition of Literary analysis Essay

In a literary analysis essay, a student is required to share his opinion about the literary elements such as the theme and the other literary devices. The identified aspects are then supported and proved with the help of evidence from the text.

A literary essay can be written on different genres of literature such as poems, novels, short stories, and works of prose. The formatting of the literary analysis essay is the same as that of the simple essay, but more stress is given to the thesis statement. However, there are different components of the essay that should be followed such as a clear introduction, discussion section, and then conclusion section.

There are some significant characteristics of the literal analysis essay that makes it different from the other essays, as mentioned below

  • There should be a narrative in the literary analysis essay
  • The essay should be interpretive
  • There should not be any arguments, neither there will be an arguable thesis
  • It follows the structure of a report.

Characteristics of literary analysis essay

  • Stay focused
  • While writing a literary analysis essay, one should try to stay focused on the goals, because this essay type is different from the other types. A student should be focused and committed to his goal of addressing the central agenda i.e. finding the core points and the central themes and ideas.

  • Add literary terms
  • A student should always add literary terms to the writing. The purpose of this action is to ensure that the essay should appear to be connected to the audience, and it can add to the underlying quality of the content.

  • Add headings
  • A student should always add relevant headings. These headings will be meant to classify between the paragraphs. The paragraphs should be distributed and sectioned in the light of the writing goals, where the introduction should end with a thesis statement while the body paragraphs will be a solid description and the conclusion should wind up.

  • Know your audience and academic standard
  • While writing a literary analysis essay, a student should understand the audience for whom the essay is written and the academic standard. The writing should be designed in the light of the grade because if a student will write under the set writing goals then it might affect the grades. In the same way following high standards can also affect the writing goals.

  • Evaluate your writing in the light of set goals
  • The final step in writing a literary analysis essay is to evaluate the writing. The evaluation can be done in the form of the learning objectives and the writing rubric. Then a student should always check for the clarity of writing and grammar because failure to achieve these goals can affect the grades, alongside the writing goals and the future scope.

The underlying purpose of literary analysis essay

A literary analysis essay is written to help the students with finding and explaining some certain and essential elements of fiction that are identified in the work or the literature genre. The aim of such an essay is to present all the details that are already been identified and there should be an analysis of the specific aspect of the piece of the literature. There are some important aspects to be considered such as the language, effect, content, and the writing style that is followed.

However, it is crucial for a student to understand what are the basic and important elements of the literature and how they should be assessed.

In order to help students, an insight into the basic elements of the literature is given

  • Plot
  • It is one of the most important yet significant elements of literary analysis essay writing. It is all about the setting of the genre of literature such as what is the place, time, year, or century. Also, the plot infers the sequence of events, such as flashbacks, the linear flow of events, and the future.

  • Point of view
  • In any work of literature, point of view is crucial because it helps the readers to understand who is narrating the story, what is the purpose, and what is the perspective of the author that is to be communicated.

  • Setting
  • The setting of the story highlights the region and the time span in which the characters are performing their role and task. The setting is very important to understand how certain characters are acting and why they are acting in that particular way. Sometimes setting acts as a justification to understand and identify the action of the character.

  • Characters
  • Every piece of art and genre of literature is incomplete without the inclusion of characters. It is important to understand the role of each character and how that character is contributing to the story. There are different types of characters, mentioned in the story.

    1. Protagonist: It is the hero
    2. Antagonist: It is the villain
    3. Catalyst: It is an important character who is neither the protagonist nor the antagonist.
  • Imagery
  • Imagery is the setting of the external environment in the play of the story. It plays a central role in contributing to the underlying meaning of the work of literature. It creates a picture in the mind of the readers and it affects the meaning of the story and justifies the action of the actors.

  • Symbolism
  • Symbolism is an insight into the words that act as a symbol of anything. It is more like words that express a hidden meaning. The context of symbolism is, particular projects explain the meaning.

  • Irony
  • The irony is more like a criticism, or the uncertainty, or the critical approach to the existence of something. It is more like an approach to convey the intended meaning in a hidden manner.

  • Foreshadowing
  • It is the ability of the actor or the author to think about the future. It is based on the description and understanding of the actions, and the events that are occurring in the story.

Basic steps to writing a literary analysis essay

It is obvious that writing a literary analysis essay requires a lot of time and attention. There are some components and steps that can help you with how to write a literary analysis essay

  • Read and Read
  • The first step in writing a literary analysis essay is to read the story or the piece of literature that is assigned. It can help a writer understand the aim of the piece of writing and how it can contribute to the understanding of the reader. The reading of the content is also crucial to understand what is substantial, what is critical, and what is ironic.

  • Select a topic
  • The next step is to come up with a topic. That topic must be creative, concise and it should be fulfilling in its nature. The topic should be a flow of meaning or raising a question that can be supported with the evidence from the literature.

  • Create a thesis statement
  • The next step is to come up with a thesis statement because it is more like a single sentence answer to the question that is asked by the examiner. The thesis statement is also informative, defendable, and argumentative in its nature.

  • Come up with evidence
  • The set of evidence is required to defend the thesis statement. This evidence can be from the basic content of the story or it can be something that is presented to assert or persuade the readers or the examiner.

  • Start writing
  • After collecting all the evidence and rearranging information, a writer should align the information in such a way that a complete text can be generated. It should be complete in its nature i.e. meaningful and creative.

  • Proofread and Edit
  • After creating the text, it should be proofread and edited thoroughly. You can also consult some proofreading tools to assist you with this task such as Grammarly. However, another way of mitigating and removing errors is reading aloud or asking a peer to read an essay for you.

Outline of the literary analysis essay

An outline is an important and integral part of any academic writing. It not only facilitates understanding the topic but also adds to the meaning of the content. Following are the important elements of the literary analysis essay outline

  • Introduction
  • In this section, a writer will introduce the topic. The information is arranged in such a way that the reader is informed about the basic content and the stance that a writer will be analyzing in the task.

  • Body Paragraphs
  • It is the second part of the literary analysis essay. This section requires a writer to come up with different body paragraphs, each pertaining and defining or proving the thesis statement that is already identified or mentioned in the essay.

  • Conclusion
  • It is the third and the last part of the essay. In this section, a writer sums up everything that is already informed and written in the essay. However, it is crucial to understand that no new information should be added in this section.

An example of an outline is mentioned below.

literary analysis essay writing literary analysis essay writing 1 literary analysis essay writing 3

Some important topics

Following are some important and useful topics that you can choose for your literary analysis essay

  • How The Yellow Wallpaper depicts the era of female subjugation
  • How a Doll’s House is a feminist play?
  • Explain the era and the writing genre of Robinson Crusoe
  • How can you explain the Lord of the Flies as a narrative text?
  • Analyze the main points and the plot of the novel, "To the Lighthouse”

An example of a literary analysis essay.

The basic aim and the purpose of the literary analysis essay are to inform, examine and explain different parts of the text. Here is an example of the literary analysis essay attached that can help you with the writing process. An example of a literary analysis essay

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