How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay
When learning how to write a literary analysis essay, your main objective is not to write a simple book review. Rather, your goal is to write an article that discusses your interpretation of the literature. When you write a literary analysis, you will need to keep the format in mind that is provided to you by the person assigning the report to you. Nonetheless, there are a few general guidelines you should keep in mind when writing a literary analysis article.
One tip you should keep in mind while writing a literary analysis essay is that you should always write in the present tense and never in the past tense. For example, you might write "In George Orwell's ‘Animal Farm,' the animals take over the farm and develop their own independent society" rather than "In George Orwell's ‘Animal Farm,' the animals took over the farm and developed their own independent society."
You should also avoid putting yourself into the literary analysis. This means you should write in the third person and never use the words "I" or "you." There may be exceptions to this rule, however, depending upon your instructor. In fact, some will request a more informal literary analysis that will include the usage of these words. When in doubt, however, it is safer to use the third person.
Since literary analysis essays are not meant to simply be a book review or summary of the book, you should not retell the story in your article. Rather, you need to form a thesis about the piece of literature and then explain and support the thesis you have developed.
Although you are not summarizing the plot when you write a literary analysis, you will need to pull elements from the plot when writing your literary analysis. For example, when providing an analysis, you will use information from the piece of literature to help support your position. For example, if writing a literary analysis of "The Telltale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe, you might make the assertion that the narrator is insane. You can then use the fact that the narrator said he could hear "all things in the heaven and in the earth" to help support your claim.
Since you are writing a literary analysis, which is a critical look at the piece, you should use as many literary terms as possible. Some terms that you should try to include and to use when analyzing the piece include:
- Point of view
- Figurative language
By using these terms, you can create a more professional and respectable piece that reflects your understanding of literature. For example, rather than saying "The story shows that people are like animals by giving the animals human characteristics," you should read, "The piece contains vivid symbols and images to reveal the animalistic nature of humans." Although both pieces express the same idea, the second sentence reveals a stronger understanding of literature and literary terms.
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