HOW TO WRITE A LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY
The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to carefully examine and sometimes evaluate a work of
literature or an aspect of a work of literature. As with any analysis, this requires you to break the
subject down into its component parts. Examining the different elements of a piece of literature is not
an end in itself but rather a process to help you better appreciate and understand the work of
literature as a whole. For instance, an analysis of a poem might deal with the different types of
images in a poem or with the relationship between the form and content of the work. If you were to
analyze (discuss and explain) a play, you might analyze ...view middle of the document...
These three principles are listed again below:
Your essay must cover the topic you are writing about.
Your essay must have a central idea (stated in your thesis) that
governs its development.
Your essay must be organized so that every part contributes
something to the reader’s understanding of the central idea.
THE ELEMENTS OF A SOLID ESSAY
The Thesis Statement
The thesis statement tells your reader what to expect: it is a restricted, precisely worded declarative
sentence that states the purpose of your essay -- the point you are trying to make. Without a
carefully conceived thesis, an essay has no chance of success. The following are thesis
statements which would work for a 500-750 word literary analysis essay:
Gwendolyn Brooks‟s 1960 poem “The Ballad of Rudolph Reed” demonstrates how the
poet uses the conventional poetic form of the ballad to treat the unconventional poetic
subject of racial intolerance.
The fate of the main characters in Antigone illustrates the danger of excessive pride.
The imagery in Dylan Thomas‟s poem “Fern Hill” reveals the ambiguity of humans‟
relationship with nature.
Typically, the thesis statement falls at the end of your introductory paragraph.
The introduction to your literary analysis essay should try to capture your reader‟s
interest. To bring immediate focus to your subject, you may want to use a quotation, a
provocative question, a brief anecdote, a startling statement, or a combination of these.
You may also want to include background information relevant to your thesis and
necessary for the reader to understand the position you are taking. In addition, you
need to include the title of the work of literature and name of the author. The
following are satisfactory introductory paragraphs which include appropriate thesis
What would one expect to be the personality of a man who has his wife
sent away to a convent (or perhaps has had her murdered) because she took too
much pleasure in the sunset and in a compliment paid to her by another man? It
is just such a man—a Renaissance duke—who Robert Browning portrays in his
poem “My Last Duchess.” A character analysis of the Duke reveals that through
his internal dialogue, his interpretation of earlier incidents, and his actions, his
traits—arrogance, jealousy, and greediness—emerge.
The first paragraph of Alberto Alvaro Rios‟s short story “The Secret Lion”
presents a twelve-year-old boy‟s view of growing up—everything changes. As
the narrator informs the reader, when the magician pulls a tablecloth out from
under a pile of dishes, children are amazed at the “stay-the-same part,” while
adults focus only on the tablecloth itself (42). Adults have the benefit of
experience and know the trick will work as long as the technique is correct.
When people “grow up,” they gain this experience and knowledge but lose their
innocence and sense of wonder. In other words, the price...