WritingYour Literary Analysis
Stepone: Read the work forits literal meaning. Make sure youunderstand the plot of the play or novel and who the characters are.
Step two: Annotatethe play or novel--underline descriptions that seem significant to you. Write down your reactions, questions,and comments.
Step three: Drawa picture of the story or draw a character map that notes how you feel abouteach main character in the beginning of the work and how you feel about themain characters at the end of the work.
Step four: Review your notes about what you read.
Step five: Decidewhat question you want to answer about the works you are analyzing. Your thesis is the answer to your question. Try to develop an interesting thesisand interpretation. Choose thequotes and evidence in the story that support your thesis.
Suggested Structure of Your Literary Analysis Essay
A. Summarize what each work is aboutin one sentence. Don't forget to mention the title of the each work you are analyzingand who the author is.
B. State the main pointor thesis of your essay. Yourthesis should answer a question about how an important element in the piece ofliterature works. For instance, you might answer the question: What do you thinkwas the main point the author was trying to make about his/her subject (theme) or what was the author trying to showthrough one of the characters?
A. Explain your firstpoint connected to your thesis and support it with quotations from the book.
B. Explain your secondpoint connected to your thesis and support it with quotations from the book.
C. Explain your mostimportant idea connected to your thesis. Discuss your interpretation and support it with quotations from thebook.
(Note:Be careful that you don't just re-tell the story without giving yourinterpretations. A better analysiswould focus on your interpretation, not on synopsizing the story.)
III. Conclusion: You can summarize your main points, andconnect them to your thesis. Youcan connect your interpretation to a larger theme in the novel or you canexplain what you learned about human nature or the complexity of humanexperience through the novel.
So your teacher has informed you that a three page paper "On Romeo and Juliet" is due Friday. It is now Thursday night and you haven't even begun. You have no idea where to start.
Writing an "A" essay, easily and quickly, is all about asking the right questions. If your teacher has given you a fairly broad assignment, like the one above, the first rule you need understand is that summaries will no longer cut it. Teachers and professors don't want to see that you understand the plot of a story. That was your 4th grade teacher. High school and college is more about analyzing themes (big picture ideas from a story that are applicable to real life) and an author's literary merit (as in, what kind of techniques are used to accomplish the goal).
When tackling a generic essay assignment, the best place to begin is to create a theme statement. This is a one sentence statement that explains something the author is trying to convey about life, the world, humanity, or something else, through the story. Asking and answering the right questions will guide you into writing a proper theme statement, which can then become a great thesis statement (you know, that magical sentence in your introduction that defines your entire essay).
Yeah, great, I get that. But how do I start?