Monday, March 3, 2014

How to Write a Literary Analysis – the Ultimate Guide

How to Write a Literary Analysis

Writing a literary analysis is fun. Simply read a literary piece. Then reread it again and again to evaluate the author's job. Write down what you’ve noticed. That's it.

If you think it sounds too good to be true, see how to write a literary analysis and structure it to impress your profs. The following ultimate guide will make it easy.

Get Ready for Writing a Literary Analysis

The first step to writing literature analysis is becoming a critical reader. It means a reader who X-rays what s/he’s reading and picks the most important elements for further analysis.

It's easy. Here’s a cheat sheet that will make you a critical reader in no time. Read with these questions in mind:
  1. What are the main characters, events, mood and/or plot lines?
  2. What's your personal first reaction?
  3. What are the authors’ main ideas and philosophical messages?
  4. What are the techniques used by the author? Plot Devices
    • Back story - a story preceding the main plot line which adds meaning to it.
    • Chekhov’s gun - an irrelevant item that appears right from the start for a purpose which becomes clear only much later.
    • Flashbacks - an alteration of time sequence in narration.
    • Frame story (a story within a story) - a main story which helps organize smaller stories.
    • Plot twist - an unexpected turn in narration which changes the meaning of the whole plot.
    • Stream of consciousness - a narration based on associations and memories.
    • An unreliable narrator - a story is told by someone who clearly has biased views.
    Figures of Speech
    • Allegory - a symbolic story.
    • Hyperbole - a literary exaggeration.
    • Oxymoron - a combination of words which mean each other's opposite: terribly beautiful.
    • Parody - a humorous imitation of another author’s style.
    • Irony - a discrepancy between the expectations and events.
    • Onomatopoeia - the use of words imitating sounds (ding-dong, bang, clap).
    • Metaphor - a direct shift of meaning from one word to another one, without using the comparison words ‘like’ or ‘as’.
    • Simile - a milder form of a metaphor, a comparison using words 'as' or 'like'.
  5. How to Write a Literary Analysis Introduction

    When you've already mastered the art of critical reading, it’s high time to write a literary analysis introduction. The main components to include:
    • the title and the author’s name;
    • genre and context;
    • a strong thesis statement, expressing your attitude and position.

    If you want to include an attention hook, you might also add a quote from the text, a joke or a rhetorical question.

    How to Write a Literary Analysis Main Body

    The main body usually consists of at least three paragraphs. Good literary analysis essays require detailed explanation of your position and much evidence from the text for defending it.

    The textual evidence can include:
    • specific details from the text;
    • direct quotes from the text;
    • brief summary;
    • paraphrase.

    The proven formula for each paragraph of the main body is ‘a hamburger paragraph’, consisting of a topic sentence (expressing the main point), explanatory details (supporting and developing the main point) and a concluding sentence (restating the main point in different words).

    How to Write a Literary Analysis Conclusion

    All you need for writing a literary analysis conclusion is getting back to your introduction, finding your thesis statement (it’s usually at the end of the introduction) and repeating it in different words as something that has already been proved.

    How to Write a Literary Analysis: Useful Vocabulary

    When writing your literary analysis, you may want to use some (or even all) of the following phrases:
    • the fate of the main characters illustrates….
    • the imagery demonstrates the ambiguity of relationships…;
    • a character analysis reveals…
    • through this internal dialogue, the author was trying to show…
    So, that was a comprehensive answer to your question 'how to write a literary analysis'.

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