If you’ve taken your required English classes, chances are you’ve been asked to write a literary analysis before. A literary analysis is an essay that discusses the meaning of a literary work as seen in structure, theme and symbols. One of the most important parts about literary analyses are that, professors do not assign them to see if students understand the theme of a story, rather they assign them to see if students understand key concepts.
- Theme is open to interpretation.
- Use key words.
- Structure matters.
- Everything has meaning.
- Mention the theme in your thesis.
Many students struggle identifying the theme of a work. The theme is always open to interpretation. While you may have a different answer than someone else, you may both be right. This doesn’t mean that everything is correct. The theme you choose needs to have a solid argument that acts as a basis for your essay.
Make sure you integrate course work. The point of a literary analysis is to see if you are able to apply course knowledge. If your teacher taught you about points of view, then mention it. If you are analyzing a poem, discuss the structure.
In poetry, the syntax and word choice is just as important as the symbols. In narratives, syntax and word choice can still be important, but they often take a backseat to characters and symbols.
Many people like to say that English teachers overanalyze literary works to the point of taking mundane things out of context. The truth remains that classic literature becomes classic because it is profound to a large amount of people. The general rule for literature is that if something has the possibility of meaning something, it does.
You should mention your theme multiple times during your essay, but it needs to appear at the end of your introduction and in the beginning of your conclusion. If your thesis does not clearly state the theme of your analysis, then your professor will take points off.
Remember, writing a literary analysis is about proving your understanding of the course rather than getting a set answer correct. Your writing should provide insight for you and the reader. If you follow these five steps, you can write a literary analysis essay that both you and your professor are proud of!