Skip Nav

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

Language & Lit

❶Your essay has most likely treated a very specific element of the work—a single character, a small set of images, or a particular passage.

Definition of Literary Analysis


Examples of thesis statement for an Literary Analysis essay
Examples of thesis statement for an Character Analysis essay

The thesis statement of a character analysis paper presents an argument about the significance of the character in relation to the story. Brainstorm a rough sketch of the character, describing his personality, appearance, preferences, tendencies, beliefs, values and actions. Delineate the various relationships the character has with others in the story. The answer to this question is your thesis.

Perhaps you could argue that the character serves as a foil, a character that brings into relief the traits or motivations of another character. Formulate your thesis in one sentence. State your observations and then give your reasoning. Jack Grimes is a woman who has been denied any love or tenderness; she exists only to be used.

Nadine Smith has been writing since Nadine holds a Master of Arts in English language and literature from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she led seminars as a teaching assistant. Then, consider how they might be in tension with each other. For example, a poem often contains less information than a novel, so the writer might use the form to draw attention to the unknown or unanswered questions.

Consider the historical context of the work. No work is written in a vacuum, so the time period and location where the author is writing will affect the text. Research where the author lived, the time period the novel was written in, and what was going on at the time. However, equally important, Orwell had witnessed the problems of totalitarian regimes in places like Spain and wanted to warn against the advancement of totalitarianism in any form, from the political left or right.

Decide what the author's purpose is in writing the text. An author can have several purposes for writing a text. Your job is to identify at least one of them you can write about.

Don't worry about what you choose, as long as you can back up what you think the purpose is with evidence from the text. You can also read other analyses and reviews of the text, as well as interviews of the author. For example, one of Orwell's main purposes in writing was to show how if citizens don't keep their government in check, it can lead to a totalitarian government where every movement and thought is scrutinized. Brainstorm about how the author shows their main purpose.

Connect the notes you took on the text with what you consider to be one of the author's main purposes. Think about how the author is using these devices to make their point. Ignorance is strength," you get a introduction to the author's purpose. It gives the reader a view of what's ahead: Decide on your argument by focusing your topic. Focus on one element of the story that exemplifies what you think the main purpose is. Think about what stands out about that particular topic to you.

Why does it seem important? Why is that important? Without that imagery, the novel would be very different, and Orwell would have had difficulty setting up a believable world for the reader. Write a thesis statement. The thesis statement is the main idea of your paper. You want to cover your basic argument to let your readers know what you plan to argue. For a literary analysis, you should connect the main idea or theme of the work to a specific way the author shows it.

Organize your argument from start to finish. How you organize your essay is up to you. One typical method is to go through the book in order, providing your evidence starting at the beginning of the book and moving towards the end.

Another method is to present your most important part of the argument first and work down from there. Set up your main ideas or paragraphs. Write down a Roman numeral for each main idea you want to cover in your essay, as well as your introduction and conclusion. Next to the Roman numeral, jot down that main idea in a shortened form. Provide background information and historical context for III. Introduce the author's main theme IV.

Establish how imagery helps create the theme V. Add the main points you want to cover in each paragraph. Under each Roman numeral, use letters and then Arabic numerals to go into more detail about what you want to cover in each section. You can be very specific or just cover the basics. However, the more specific you are, the easier it will be to write your essay.

Introduce work, including author, title, and date B. In , Orwell's use of imagery to establish a bleak and dreary world is key to bringing home his theme that totalitarianism is something to be avoided at all costs. Provide background information and historical context for A. Bring up Orwell's experiences in Spain 1.

Experiences of fascism influenced work 2. Feared totalitarianism on the right and left C. Coined phrase "cold war" III. Introduce the author's main theme A. Warning against totalitarianism 1. Party in complete control 2. No privacy, even for thoughts 3. Orwell thought this was the logical conclusion of a complete totalitarianism IV. Establish how imagery helps create the theme A. Book begins with bleak, colorless imagery, sets up tone B. Description of urban decay creates a feeling of the world falling apart B.

Contrasting imagery when Winston has experiences with Julia, re-establishes purpose of main imagery V. Introduce each main topic with a couple of introductory sentences. With each point you make, provide a short introduction to it at the beginning of the paragraph. This just establishes what the idea is. It can also connect the idea to the rest of your text.

That means that with each paragraph you add, you need to connect it to the main thesis of the essay. Doing so helps your reader see the overall point you're making. Backup your points with quotes from the text.

When you're writing a literary analysis, you must show your reader where you found the evidence in the text. That means, when you make an assertion about the text, you need to add a quote or paraphrase the text to back up what you're saying. Then, explain what the quote means and how it supports your point. Make sure your analysis of the quote takes up at least as much space as the quote itself. For example, you might add, "From the very beginning of the novel, Orwell establishes that this world is bleak and dreary, one that no one would want to live in; he writes: Analyze how your evidence backs up the main point you're making.

With this step, you need to answer why the point you're making is important. Show the reader that the evidence you provide relates to your main argument.

This world is harsh to inhabitants, "cold" and foreboding, without even color to break up the monotony. A bright, sunny day doesn't even provide a reprieve from this bleakness, and Orwell uses passages like these to establish that this world could be the future, a harsh reality with no escape into fantasy or pleasantries. If you haven't already, fill in your introduction. Part of your introduction should be your main thesis, but you should also introduce the main points you want to make throughout the essay, as well as the work itself.

Imagine a world where every facial expression, every movement, every word you say is endlessly scrutinized by an overreaching government. Anyone who breaks the rules or steps out of line is punished harshly.

How to Cite

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Write one sentence that expresses the aspect of the literary analysis that you are discussing and your interpretation of it. Both of these items must be clear in the thesis. The reader should read this one statement and know exactly what the essay will discuss.

Privacy FAQs

A literary analysis essay discusses a particular aspect of a work of literature. It essentially presents an argument or an interpretation about that work. Developing a clear, concise thesis for a literary analysis essay is highly important in guiding the reader through the .

About Our Ads

The thesis statement of a character analysis paper presents an argument about the significance of the character in relation to the story. A writer gathers evidence for a character analysis thesis not only from the way a narrator describes a character but through the narrator’s portrayal of a character’s actions. Any academic essay must have a thesis statement and a poetry essay is no exception. The main purpose of a poetry essay is not to summarize the poem, but to develop an in-depth idea that makes an argument based upon an analysis of the poem.

Cookie Info

To develop a thesis statement for a literary analysis, review your notes and decide _____. A. which character is the most interesting B. which critical point you want to make about the piece of literature/5(8). What Should a Thesis Statement on an Essay About a Short Story Look Like? A literary analysis of short stories allows writers to explain the basic elements of the story and make a deeper statement about the plot, characters, symbolism or theme.