What Is a Literary Essay: Learn How to Write Analysis Paper

  • Apr 02, 2020
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You were assigned to write an unknown type of paper at your high school, college, or university? Don't know whether you can define clearly what it is and how to write it well? Don't worry, because we can solve that problem for you. Just read this post, and you'll get a better understanding of the literary analysis essay and will be ready to cope with this assignment easily.

What Is a Literary Essay?

Many students frequently become assigned to write literary essays. And, that refers not only to students who major in humanities. However, even they sometimes don't understand what the professors expect of them when asking to write a literary analysis paper. This is why it would be reasonable to start our discussion by providing you with a clear idea of what this assignment implies.

A literary essay is an academic paper that has a classical essay structure. This assignment is focused on a literary piece, a poem, a novel, or a play, and seeks to analyze its themes, characters, or/and literary devices applied. The main purpose of this task is to reveal how well a student is familiar with the work analyzed and provoke analytical thinking in their minds. It is a simplistic definition meant to make complicated things clearer for those who have never written such a school paper themselves. Considering the main purpose of this work, as we've said, a student should show that they can carefully examine and evaluate the literary work of their choice from different aspects. While working on literary analysis, a student may break the work into essential parts and examine what features and in what way contribute to the overall perception of it by the readers.

As an example, we may take the "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." It is a popular novel that has a lot of reviews on the net. Many of those have a subjective character and show how each of the readers perceived the novel in their own way. In your writing, you can also include your impressions and thought about the matters highlighted in the novel, but make sure to formulate those as a logical part of the overall analysis and preserve a structured format. It would be relevant to tell about your attitude toward the book or another literary piece after having analyzed all its components. Those are characters, main storylines, hidden images, highlighted social (cultural, etc.) issues, the mood of the narration, and many more. There is something else you need to be aware of to create your literary analysis essay successfully. That is the structure requirements of this school assignment.

Typical Literary Essay Structure

A typical paper of this type will follow the general academic essay structure rules. It will include:

  • Introduction
  • Three or more body paragraphs
  • Conclusion
  • Cover page (if required by format or your professor's instructions)
  • Reference page

Now let us have a closer look at all these elements.

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Cover Page

The layout of your cover page and the reference list (where the used sources are indicated) are organized under the standards of your citation style. There are no general guidelines on how to format them. But one thing to remember about your reference list is that you need to include all the publications which you have referred to in the body of your paper. Do not include anything extra - only those sources you have actually cited and, of course, the analyzed literature piece.

Introduction

Your introduction will include an attention-grabber, which is meant to interest the reader to at least look through your essay. Then, your thesis statement and sometimes an overview of the main points of your work to which your body paragraphs will be dedicated. But that is the simplest solution. A good decision would be to include in your introduction a citation retrieved from the work under discussion. Choose a phrase that resonates with a topic well, and put it at the beginning or the ending of this section. That will help you show your awareness of the book content as well as make the text more interesting and less generalized.

Main Body

Speaking of the main body, it usually consists of three or more body paragraphs. Every one of those may contain a separate argument related to your topic or a different point that supports the main statement. The body of a literary paper deals with the development of the topic in the first place. For example, if you're writing about a concept of love in the book, you can discuss its manifestation through different characters (three characters for three paragraphs). Or, there could be three main storylines describing different underlying feelings through the characters' behavior or relationships. So, we advise you to always pay attention to the logical organization of the analyzed work. That can help you see the future sections of your essay and the organization of your assignment's body paragraphs. And, of course, don't forget to include quotations and different references to the original text as supporting evidence. That will make the audience believe in the truth of your ideas. From the body of your paper, the readers should understand why you chose a particular topic or book for the analysis and what your opinion towards it is.

Conclusion

Lastly, the conclusion of the essay you've written for a literature class can restate the thesis statement or briefly revise the main points brought in your body paragraphs. But remember: the concluding paragraph should never contain any new information on the topic. Instead, you can widen the focus of your essay - write about something more general toward the end of the analysis. Or, from discussing, for example, the characters' behavior in the body paragraphs, you can logically proceed with similar behavior and concepts that we can face in real life. This way, you maintain the feeling of reality in the readers' minds. Show how the analyzed work can reveal the truth of our society and influence the world around us. By following these simple rules, as the narrator, you will be able to create a brilliant literary essay conclusion.

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