A literary essay is a written assignment that requires students to explore a book, play, or other written work in depth. Unlike book reports, literary essays require far more than a simple rehashing of the events of the story and basic listing of the setting, characters, and other data. A literary essay asks that students read a written work with far more than mere enjoyment in mind.
A literary essay is not a brief narration of the written work. In literary essays, students are required to examine the literature and write about such concepts as structure and theme. A literary essay requires students to delve into the literary work even deeper than if they were writing a literary review.
A literary report should contain an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction should introduce the topic and contain a well-written thesis statement. A thesis statement is what prepares the reader for what he or she will encounter in the rest.
The body of the literary report should discuss the written work. Often, the course instructor will tell students exactly what to discus in the body. Things that are often discussed are such factors as how the author of the written work conveys the message of the writing. The instructor wants to know if the story wanders and the message gets lost in the wanderings, if the wanderings are pertinent to the story, if the story is direct, or any other feature of the message that the student feels is worth mentioning.
The writing style of the author is also worth addressing in a literary article. Some writing styles are obviously easier to read than others. This bears mentioning. Some writing styles are immediately engrossing. This bears mentioning also. Students should analyze the writing style of the author from angles such as readability, complexity, and ability to convey the message of the written work.
A discussion of the author's writing style might also include mention of the author's use of similes and metaphors. Many renowned authors make such complex use of metaphors that students often miss such associations until the instructor points them out. Instructors like to use literary essay assignments to test a student's ability to uncover the true meaning behind metaphor use. Some students, and instructors as well, find that even some of the best authors overuse similes. It is important that students mention in their literary essays when they feel an author has become trite with his or her use of such associations.
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