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A Comprehensive Guide on How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

Have you ever been tasked with writing a literary analysis essay and wondered how to approach it effectively? Fear not, for you’ve come to the right place.

In this article on how to write a literary analysis essay, we will walk you through the entire process of crafting an insightful and compelling piece, from understanding the basics to polishing your final draft. So, let’s embark on this journey together and unlock the secrets of analyzing literature like a pro.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • A literary analysis essay is an impartial evaluation of a text to gain understanding of the author’s intentions and implications.
  • It involves breaking down and examining elements, structure, language, timeline & other techniques employed by the author.
  • Crafting a compelling thesis statement with textual evidence & polishing your essay through reviewing/refining arguments & proofreading are essential steps for successful writing.

Understanding the Basics of a Literary Analysis Essay

To begin with, a literary analysis essay is an academic paper that involves examining a text closely, deciphering its implications, and investigating why the author made specific decisions. The main objective of such an essay is to facilitate comprehension of the literary work by providing a summary of literary research and incorporating examples, review components, literary analysis essay topics, and more.

In this context, literary analysis essays serve as a valuable tool for students and scholars alike to delve deeper into the meaning and significance of a literary work.

The process of analyzing literature entails examining the author’s choices in order to elucidate their intentions, as well as analyzing the use of language throughout the work. It is essential to avoid employing ambiguous language, such as using the words “interesting” and “important,” when following a literary analysis essay step.

Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay

The primary intent of a literary analysis essay is to analyze and assess a literary work or its aspect. This type of essay delves into the evaluation of both technical and emotional components of the text, necessitating an impartial consideration of both the advantages and disadvantages, similar to a critical analysis. A literary analysis essay investigates literary devices, language selection, point of view, imagery, and the composition of the text, which are all essential aspects to consider in each literary analysis step. It is crucial for student writers to avoid excessively praising the work or the author, as this can detract from a good literary analysis.

When embarking on the journey of writing a literary analysis essay, remember that the ultimate goal is to provide a deeper understanding of the author’s intentions and the impact of the various elements within the literary work. By examining and evaluating the text thoughtfully, you will be able to discern patterns, themes, and techniques that may have been overlooked by others, enriching your own appreciation of the work and showcasing your analytical prowess.

Analyzing Literature

In order to write an insightful literary analysis, it is crucial to break down and examine various literary elements and their effects on the overall work. When analyzing the structure of a literary work, consider the impact of the structure on the flow of the story, novel, or poem, the structural elements employed by the author (chapters, stanzas, lines, acts), and rhyme pattern, punctuation, pauses, and meter. Language analysis is also vital; pay attention to the length of sentences, complexity of grammatical structures, presence of poetic or high-flown language, recurrence of vulgar words, and other literary elements that contribute to the overall meaning and impact of the text.

In addition, consider the timeline of the story and ask yourself questions such as: Do the events unfold in chronological order? Does the author use a time machine to transport readers back and forth? How easy is it to transition between different time layers, and what effect does this have? By asking these questions and examining the various literary techniques used by the author, you will be better equipped to write an astute and well-rounded analysis of the work in question.

Preparing for Your Literary Analysis

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of writing your literary analysis essay, it is crucial to prepare by reading the text thoroughly and choosing a suitable topic. Creating an outline and considering any distinctive characteristics of the literary text to be evaluated is an effective starting point. To analyze literature effectively, it’s essential to have a deep understanding of the work and its context.

In this stage of the process, pay close attention to the details and nuances of the text, as these will become the foundation of your analysis.

Reading the Text Thoroughly

Reading the text in its entirety is of great importance, as it can enhance reading comprehension, critical thinking abilities, memory, and analytical skills. Furthermore, it can aid readers in understanding the author’s message and intent, and creating connections to their coursework. To get the most out of your reading experience, it is advisable to read slowly, take notes, and focus on your thoughts rather than emotions.

When reading the text, make sure to highlight important passages, make note of recurring themes or motifs, and consider the author’s intentions behind certain narrative choices. This careful and attentive reading will not only enrich your understanding of the literary work, but also provide you with a strong foundation for crafting a compelling analysis later on.

Choosing a Topic

Choosing a topic for your literary analysis essay is an essential step in the process. To select a subject that interests you and is relevant to the text, begin by asking yourself questions about the work. Consider the themes, characters, setting, and literary techniques employed by the author, and select a topic that you find engaging and worth exploring in depth.

Once you have chosen a topic, craft a succinct and unambiguous topic sentence that will guide your analysis. This sentence should encapsulate the main idea you will be exploring in your essay and serve as a roadmap for your reader. By selecting a compelling topic and crafting a clear topic sentence, you will set the stage for a successful and insightful literary analysis essay.

Crafting a Compelling Thesis Statement

Crafting a compelling thesis statement is a crucial aspect of writing a literary analysis essay. The thesis statement is the central argument of your essay, serving as the foundation upon which your entire analysis will be built.

A close reading of the text is essential for the development of a strong and arguable thesis statement. Attention to subtle details of narrative voice and structure allows one to make meaningful interpretations that go beyond summary. In this section, we will discuss the characteristics of a good thesis statement and how to support it with textual evidence.

Characteristics of a Good Thesis Statement

A good thesis statement should be unambiguous, precise, and open to debate. It should be novel, succinct, and provide a guide for the remainder of the essay. When crafting your thesis statement, avoid including statements of fact, as they do not invite debate or further analysis.

Instead, aim to create a thesis statement that is intriguing, thought-provoking, and ultimately debatable. This will not only capture the attention of your reader, but also provide a solid foundation for your analysis, ensuring that your essay is both engaging and insightful.

Supporting Your Thesis with Textual Evidence

To support your thesis statement, it is important to present relevant textual evidence from the literary work in question. This includes specific parts of the text that demonstrate your point, such as quotations and examples. When using quotations, they should not exceed 30 words; otherwise, they should be paraphrased to communicate the essence of lengthy passages.

Gathering textual evidence from the start will facilitate the construction of your arguments and help determine if they are persuasive. Be sure to consider contradictory evidence as well, as this can strengthen your analysis by demonstrating your ability to engage with multiple perspectives.

Ultimately, supporting your thesis with strong textual evidence will make your literary analysis essay more convincing and impactful.

Structuring Your Literary Analysis Essay

Now that you have crafted a compelling thesis statement and gathered your textual evidence, it’s time to structure your literary analysis essay. A well-structured essay is crucial for ensuring that your ideas are clearly presented and easily understood by your reader.

In this section, we will discuss the components of a literary analysis essay, including the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion, and provide guidance on how to organize and present your analysis effectively.


The introduction of your literary analysis essay should provide background information about the work being discussed, the characters, and the topic being addressed. It should also be succinct, allowing you to quickly arrive at the main point of your analysis. The purpose of the introduction is to furnish a comprehension of the magnitude of the essay and the trajectory towards substantiating the thesis.

In addition to providing background information, your introduction should also present your thesis statement. This statement should be presented at or close to the conclusion of the introduction, serving as a roadmap for your reader and guiding the direction of your analysis.

Body Paragraphs

The body of your literary analysis essay should consist of at least three to four paragraphs or more, with each paragraph focusing on one primary point associated with the overall theme of the analysis. Each body paragraph should focus on one topic or aspect and emphasize one primary point pertinent to the general theme of the analysis.

When including quotations in your analysis, remember that they should not exceed one sentence and should not be longer than 30 words. To ensure that your body paragraphs are well-structured and coherent, begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence. This sentence should encapsulate the main idea you will be exploring in the paragraph and serve as a roadmap for your reader.

Conclude each paragraph with a one-sentence summary of the discussed idea, using transition words to make it easy for your reader to follow the progression of your analysis.

The conclusion of your literary analysis essay should summarize your main points, restate your thesis, and highlight the significance of your analysis. In doing so, you will provide your reader with a sense of closure and reinforce the importance of your analysis.

When writing your conclusion, be sure to avoid introducing any new ideas or concepts that were not discussed in the body of your essay. Instead, focus on reiterating the key points of your analysis and demonstrating how they support your thesis statement.

By summarizing your main points and restating your thesis in the conclusion, you will leave your reader with a clear understanding of your analysis and its significance, making your literary analysis essay both impactful and memorable.

Enhancing Your Essay with Literary Devices and Techniques

To elevate your literary analysis essay even further, consider incorporating the use of literary devices and techniques. These elements can provide a deeper understanding of the text and contribute to a more insightful and engaging analysis.

In this section, we will explore various literary devices and techniques, such as figurative language, narrative voice, and structure and organization, and discuss how they can be used to enhance your essay.

Figurative Language

Figurative language, such as metaphors and similes, can be used to analyze the author’s use of imagery and symbolism in a literary work. By examining the author’s use of figurative language, you can gain a deeper understanding of the underlying themes and motifs present in the text. This can provide a richer and more nuanced analysis, allowing you to engage more deeply with the work and demonstrate your analytical skills.

When discussing figurative language in your analysis, be sure to provide specific examples from the text, explaining how they contribute to the overall meaning and impact of the work. By incorporating figurative language into your analysis, you will not only enhance your understanding of the text, but also showcase your ability to recognize and interpret the various literary devices used by the author.

Narrative Voice

Examining the narrative voice of a literary work can provide valuable insights into the author’s intentions and the overall effect of the text on the reader. Consider the narrator’s viewpoint (first-person or third-person), their level of omniscience or limited knowledge, and their reliability or unreliability when analyzing the narrative voice in a literary work. Additionally, reflect on the tone of the text and whether it is intended to be humorous, sorrowful, or something else.

By analyzing the narrative voice, perspective, and tone of the text, you will be able to gain a deeper understanding of the author’s intentions and the impact of the work on the reader. This can contribute to a more insightful and engaging analysis, demonstrating your ability to recognize and interpret the various narrative techniques used by the author.

Structure and Organization

The structure and organization of a literary work can also provide valuable insights into the author’s intentions and the overall effect of the text on the reader. When analyzing the structure and organization of a text, consider its divisions (chapters, stanzas, lines, acts), chronological order, and use of dramatic irony. By examining these elements, you can gain a deeper understanding of how the author’s choices contribute to the overall meaning and impact of the work.

Incorporating an analysis of the structure and organization of a literary work into your essay can provide a more comprehensive and insightful understanding of the text. By examining these elements, you will be able to recognize and interpret the various techniques used by the author to convey their message and engage the reader, ultimately contributing to a more engaging and impactful analysis.

Polishing Your Literary Analysis Essay

Once you have completed your literary analysis essay, it is important to take the time to review and refine your arguments and proofread for errors. This process will ensure that your essay is coherent, logical, and free of mistakes, making it more effective in communicating your analysis to the reader.

In this section, we will discuss the importance of reviewing and refining your arguments and proofreading for errors, as well as provide tips for ensuring that your essay is polished and well-presented.

Reviewing and Refining Arguments

Reviewing and refining your arguments is a crucial step in the process of crafting a successful literary analysis essay. By revisiting your arguments and considering potential counterarguments, you can refine your thesis statement and make your essay more effective in communicating your message to the reader.

To review and refine your arguments, begin by examining the coherence and logic of your analysis. Ensure that your ideas are clearly presented and well supported by textual evidence. Additionally, consider any points of contradiction or alternative interpretations, and address them in your essay. By thoroughly reviewing and refining your arguments, you will create a more persuasive and impactful literary analysis essay.

Proofreading and Editing

Proofreading and editing your essay are essential steps in ensuring that your literary analysis is polished and professional. This process involves checking for grammar and spelling errors, verifying that your essay is structured and organized appropriately, and confirming that your essay is consistent with your thesis statement.

To proofread and edit your essay effectively, read it aloud and listen for awkward phrasing or unclear ideas. Additionally, consider having a friend or classmate review your work, as they may be able to offer a fresh perspective and catch any errors you may have missed.

By taking the time to proofread and edit your essay, you will ensure that it is free of errors and effectively communicates your analysis to the reader.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start a literary analysis essay.

To start a literary analysis essay, begin by identifying the title and author of the work you are examining, then briefly present the issue that will be discussed in the essay. Provide some background information on the text and its author, and then introduce the thesis statement which will guide the rest of the essay.

Finally, offer a general idea about the points to be covered in the essay.

What are the 5 components of a literary analysis?

A literary analysis consists of analyzing a text’s plot, theme, characters, point of view and setting in order to better understand it.

Each of these elements can be broken down further to gain a deeper understanding of the text. For example, the plot can be examined for its structure, the characters can be analyzed for their motivations and the setting can be explored.

What is the basic structure of a literary analysis essay?

A literary analysis essay typically consists of an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction should provide general information about the author and the text itself, while the body paragraphs should focus on specific points from the text that support your overall thesis statement.

Evidence from the text may include summary, paraphrase, specific details, and direct quotations.

What is a literary analysis essay?

A literary analysis essay is an argumentative evaluation of a literary work, making a personal perspective and judgment based on its aesthetics, political messages or beliefs.

This type of essay requires the writer to analyze the text, breaking it down into its component parts and examining how they work together to create meaning. The writer must also consider the author’s intent and purpose in writing the work, as well.

What is the main objective of writing a literary analysis essay?

The main objective of writing a literary analysis essay is to facilitate comprehension of the literary work by providing a summary, incorporating examples, and reviewing components.

In conclusion, writing a literary analysis essay is a rewarding and enriching process that allows you to delve deeper into the world of literature and develop your critical thinking skills. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you will be well on your way to crafting a compelling and insightful literary analysis essay.

From understanding the basics of literary analysis to incorporating literary devices and techniques, and finally polishing your essay, each step in the process will bring you closer to achieving a deeper understanding of the literary work you are analyzing. So take the plunge and embark on this exciting journey toward literary analysis mastery.

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay


Table of contents

  • 1 Understanding the Assignment
  • 2 Preparatory Work
  • 3.1 First Reading
  • 3.2 Second Reading
  • 3.3 Take Notes
  • 4.1 Defining Your Audience
  • 4.2 The Title of Your Essay
  • 4.3 Literary Analysis Essay Outline
  • 4.4 Introduction
  • 4.5 Body Paragraphs
  • 4.6 Conclusion
  • 5 Revising the Essay
  • 6 In Conclusion

Writing a literary analysis essay is one of the most difficult tasks for a student. When you have to analyze a certain literary work, there is a whole set of rules that you have to follow. The literary analysis structure is rigid, and students often are demoralized by things like that.

Our article hopes to be a comprehensive guide that can explain how to write literary analysis essay. Here is what you will learn:

  • The importance of understanding your assignment and choosing the right topic;
  • Organizing your critical reading into two sessions to get the most out of the text;
  • Crafting the essay with your audience in mind and giving it a logical and easy-to-follow structure;
  • Importance of revising your piece, looking for logical inconsistencies, and proofreading the text.

This way, you will be able to write an essay that has its own identity, its coherence, and great analytical power.

Understanding the Assignment


Let’s start with the first obvious step: understanding the assignment. This actually applies to all types of essays and more. Yet, it is an aspect still underestimated by many students. There are so many who rush headlong into a literary text analysis before even figuring out what they need to do. So, let’s see what are the real steps to follow before writing a literary analysis essay.

First, we need to understand why we are doing this and what is a literary analysis essay. The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to evaluate and examine a particular literary work or some aspect of it. It describes the main idea of the book you have read. You need a strong thesis statement, and you always have to make a proper outline for literary analysis essay.

Secondly, you always need to read the prompt carefully. This should serve as your roadmap, and it will guide you towards specific aspects of the literary work. Those are the aspects you will focus on. You should be able to get the main ideas of what to write already from the prompt. Failure to comprehend the prompt could invalidate the entire work and cause you to lose many valuable hours.

Preparatory Work

Great, so we understood what the purpose of a literary analysis is and that it is crucial to understand the prompt. Now, it’s time to do some preparatory work before you start your draft of the literary analysis paper.

When you write a literary analysis essay, the first thing you should do is select a topic. It is usually impossible to talk about a book or poem in its entirety. Choosing a more specific theme is essential. Firstly, because it will make your literary analysis paper more interesting. Secondly, it will also be easier for you to focus on a single aspect. This could be a single character or what style and literary techniques were used by the author.

At this point, it’s time to consider the broader context. For example, if you have picked a character, think about their character’s development and their significance. If you are analyzing literature looking for a specific theme, try to reflect on how it permeates the narrative and what messages it conveys.

Now, it’s time to frame your literary analysis thesis statement. This should be concise and clear. Think of it as the compass that will guide your analysis. Plus, if it’s clear to you, it’ll be clear to your reader as well. Do not underestimate this point because it can make everything way easier when you start. Finally, feel free to read another book review to get inspired.

Critical Reading

It’s time to read the work you will analyze. We talk about what we call critical reading. This is the heart of all literary criticism, and it consists of immersing yourself in the story. Because of this, it is advised not to read the story just once but twice.

First Reading

The first reading will serve to get a general understanding of the literary texts. This means comprehending the storyline, characters, and major plot developments. You should be able to enjoy it without thinking too much about the assignment. So don’t delve too deeply into analysis just yet.

Second Reading

Your second reading should be much more methodical. Here, you start analyzing things concretely without forgetting what your literary analysis thesis is. Resist the temptation to get lost in the narrative’s flow. Instead, go through a thorough examination and identify key literary elements and literary devices, like the plot, the character development, and the mood of the story. But also other literary elements: the symbolism, the protagonists, whether there is a first-person narrator or a third-person perspective, and whether the author uses figurative language when describing the main conflict.

Pay special attention to how these literary elements are interwoven into the narrative. For example, consider how character development influences the plot. Alternatively, how symbolism enhances the mood. Recognizing these connections will be crucial for your analysis. Finally, and this might be the hardest part, try to see how all of these literary analysis elements collectively contribute to the overall impact of the work. Ask yourself whether it all works together to convey the message the author wants to convey or not.

While reading, it’s important to take notes and annotate the text. Even a brief indication could be enough. You can do this to highlight passages or quotes that strike you as significant. But also to make connections between different parts of the story. These annotations and notes will become invaluable when you start a literary analysis essay.

Crafting the Essay


Now that you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to craft your lit analysis piece. This section will help you do just that. The main points focus on:

  • Understand who you’re writing for and tailor your text accordingly
  • Craft a compelling introduction using a powerful hook and highlighting your thesis statement
  • Structure the body paragraphs in a logical and coherent way
  • Summarize your analysis, summing up the main points and key takeaway

Follow our suggestions, and you shouldn’t have any issues with your work. But, if you are facing a time crunch and need assistance with writing your literary essay, there is an online essay service that can help you. PapersOwl has been providing expert help to countless students with their literary essays for many years. Their team of professional writers is highly qualified and experienced, ensuring that you receive top-quality literary works. With PapersOwl’s assistance, you can rest assured that your literary essay will be well-written and thoroughly analyzed.

Defining Your Audience

Before putting pen to paper, and even when you are familiar with the literary analysis format, take some time to consider your audience. Who are you writing for? Is it your professor or another reader? This will help you understand what type of analysis you are going to write.

The Title of Your Essay

If you are wondering how to choose a title , you should know that some prefer to choose it when they start, while others do it as the last thing before submitting it. Usually, the literary analysis title includes the author’s name and the name of the text you are evaluating. However, that is not always necessary. What matters is to make it brief and interactive and to catch the reader’s attention immediately.

Take this example of literary analysis: “Unmasking the Symbolism: The Enigmatic Power of the Green Light in The Great Gatsby”.

It works because, while introducing the story, it hints at the theme, the specific focus, and the intrigue of unraveling a mystery.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

Writing a literary analysis essay starts with understanding the information that fills an outline. This means that writing details that belong in how to write an analytical essay should come fairly easily. If it is a struggle to come up with the meat of the essay, a reread of the novel may be necessary. Like any analysis essay, developing an essay requires structure and outline.

Let’s start with the first. Normally in high schools, the basic structure of any form of academic writing of a literature essay, comprises five paragraphs. One of the paragraphs is used in writing the introduction, three for the body, and the remaining literary analysis paragraph for the conclusion.

Every body paragraph must concentrate on a topic. While writing a five-paragraph structured essay, you need to split your thesis into three major analysis topics connected to your essay. You don’t need to write all the points derivable from the literature but the analysis that backs your thesis.

When you start a paragraph, connect it to the previous paragraph and always use a topic sentence to maintain the focus of the reader. This allows every person to understand the content at a glance.

After that, you should find fitting textual evidence to support the topic sentence and the thesis statement it serves. Using textual evidence involves bringing in a relevant quote from the story and describing its relevance. Such quotes should be well introduced and examined if you want to use them. While it is not mandatory to use them, it is effective because it allows to better analyze the author’s figurative language.

Let’s see a concrete literary analysis example to understand this.

✏️ Topic Sentence : In “The Great Gatsby,” Fitzgerald employs vivid descriptions to characterize Jay Gatsby’s extravagant parties.

✏️ Textual Evidence : Gatsby’s parties are described as “gaudy with primary colors” and filled with “music and the laughter of his guests”.

✏️ Literary Analysis : These vibrant descriptions symbolize Gatsby’s attempt to capture the essence of the American Dream. The use of “gaudy” highlights the emptiness of his pursuits.

Now that you know how to write a literature analysis, it’s crucial to distinguish between analysis and summary. A summary only restates the plot or events of the story. Analysis, on the other hand, tries to unveil the meaning of these events. Let’s use an example from another famous book to illustrate the difference.

✏️ Summary : In “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch defends Tom Robinson, an innocent Black man accused of raping a white woman.

✏️ Literary Analysis : Atticus Finch’s defense of Tom Robinson in “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a rather bitter commentary on the racial prejudices of the time. In the book, Harper Lee highlights the rampant racism that plagued Maycomb society.



The literature analysis essay, like other various academic works, has a typical 5-paragraph-structure . The normal procedure for writing an introduction for your literary analysis essay outline is to start with a hook and then go on to mention brief facts about the author and the literature. After that, make sure to present your thesis statement. Before going ahead, let’s use an example of a good literary analysis introduction. This will make it easier to discuss these points singularly.

“On the shores of East Egg, a green light shines through the darkness. The book is “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, written in 1925, and this is not just a light. It’s much more. It symbolizes the American Dream chased and rejected by Gatsby and the other characters.”

As an introductory paragraph, this has all the characteristics we are looking for. First, opening statements like this introduce a mysterious element that makes the reader curious. This is the hook. After that, the name of the book, the author, and the release year are presented. Finally, a first glimpse of what your original thesis will be – the connection between the book and the topic of the American Dream.

Afterwards, you can finish writing the introduction paragraph for the literary analysis essay with a clue about the content of the essay’s body. This style of writing a literature essay is known as signposting. Signposting should be done more elaborately while writing longer literary essays.

Body Paragraphs

In a literary analysis essay, the body paragraphs are where you go further into your analysis, looking at specific features of the literature. Each paragraph should focus on a particular aspect, such as character development, theme, or symbolism, and provide textual evidence to back up your interpretation. This structured approach allows for a thorough exploration of the literary work.

“In ‘The Great Gatsby,’ Fitzgerald uses the symbol of the green light to represent Gatsby’s perpetual quest for the unattainable – specifically, his idealized love for Daisy Buchanan. Situated at the end of Daisy’s dock, the green light shines across the bay to Gatsby’s mansion, symbolizing the distance between reality and his dreams. This light is not just a physical beacon; it’s a metaphor for Gatsby’s aspiration and the American Dream itself. Fitzgerald artfully illustrates this through Gatsby’s yearning gaze towards the light, reflecting his deep desire for a future that reconnects him with his past love, yet tragically remains just out of reach. This persistent yearning is a poignant commentary on the nature of aspiration and the illusion of the American Dream.”

The final paragraph, as usual, is the literary analysis conclusion. Writing a conclusion of your essay should be about putting the finishing touches on it. In this section, all you need to do is rephrase your aforementioned main point and supporting points and try to make them clearer to the person who reads them. But also, restate your thesis and add some interesting thoughts.

However, if you don’t understand how to write a conclusion and are just thinking, “ Write my essay for me , please”, there are solutions. At PapersOwl, you get expert writers to help you with your analysis, ensuring you meet your deadline.

Let’s go back to Gatsby’s green light and look at how to write a literary analysis example of a good conclusion:

“Our journey through the green light of “The Great Gatsby” ends here. In this literary essay, we analyzed Fitzgerald’s style and the way this allowed him to grasp the secret of the American Dream. In doing so, we realized that the American Dream is not just about one person’s dream. Rather, it is about everyone who struggles for something that will never be realized.”

Here we have it all: restating the thesis, summing up the main points, understanding the literary devices, and adding some thoughts.


Revising the Essay

At this point, you’re almost done. After you write a literary analysis, it is usually time for a revision. This is where you have a chance to refine and polish your work.

Read your analysis of literature again to check coherence and consistency. This means that your ideas should flow smoothly into each other, thus creating a coherent narrative voice. The tone should always be consistent: it would be a terrible mistake to have a body written in a style and a conclusion in a different style.

Use this final revision to refine the thesis and overall the literary argument essay. If you see there are some flaws in your discourse or some weak and unsupported claims, this is your last chance to fix them. Remember, your thesis should always be clear and effective.

Finally, do not underrate the possibility of spelling and punctuation errors. We all make mistakes of that kind. Read your piece a few times to ensure that every word is written correctly. Nothing bad with a couple of typos, but it’s even better if there is none! Finally, check if you used transition words appropriately.

The revision process involves multiple rounds of review and refinement. You could also consider seeking feedback from peers or professors. This way, you could gain a new perspective on your literary analysis.

In Conclusion

Educational institutions use works like the textual analysis essay to improve the learning abilities of students. Although it might seem complex, with the basic knowledge of how to go about it and the help of experts, you won’t find it difficult. Besides, if everything else fails, you can still try buying essays online at PapersOwl.

In this guide, we went through all the steps necessary to write a successful literary analysis. We began by understanding the assignment’s purpose and then explored preparatory work, the structure of a literature essay critical reading, and the actual crafting. In particular, we showed how to divide it into an introduction, body, and conclusion. Now it’s your turn to write a literary criticism essay!

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how to write a literary essay video

beginner's guide to literary analysis

Understanding literature & how to write literary analysis.

Literary analysis is the foundation of every college and high school English class. Once you can comprehend written work and respond to it, the next step is to learn how to think critically and complexly about a work of literature in order to analyze its elements and establish ideas about its meaning.

If that sounds daunting, it shouldn’t. Literary analysis is really just a way of thinking creatively about what you read. The practice takes you beyond the storyline and into the motives behind it. 

While an author might have had a specific intention when they wrote their book, there’s still no right or wrong way to analyze a literary text—just your way. You can use literary theories, which act as “lenses” through which you can view a text. Or you can use your own creativity and critical thinking to identify a literary device or pattern in a text and weave that insight into your own argument about the text’s underlying meaning. 

Now, if that sounds fun, it should , because it is. Here, we’ll lay the groundwork for performing literary analysis, including when writing analytical essays, to help you read books like a critic. 

What Is Literary Analysis?

As the name suggests, literary analysis is an analysis of a work, whether that’s a novel, play, short story, or poem. Any analysis requires breaking the content into its component parts and then examining how those parts operate independently and as a whole. In literary analysis, those parts can be different devices and elements—such as plot, setting, themes, symbols, etcetera—as well as elements of style, like point of view or tone. 

When performing analysis, you consider some of these different elements of the text and then form an argument for why the author chose to use them. You can do so while reading and during class discussion, but it’s particularly important when writing essays. 

Literary analysis is notably distinct from summary. When you write a summary , you efficiently describe the work’s main ideas or plot points in order to establish an overview of the work. While you might use elements of summary when writing analysis, you should do so minimally. You can reference a plot line to make a point, but it should be done so quickly so you can focus on why that plot line matters . In summary (see what we did there?), a summary focuses on the “ what ” of a text, while analysis turns attention to the “ how ” and “ why .”

While literary analysis can be broad, covering themes across an entire work, it can also be very specific, and sometimes the best analysis is just that. Literary critics have written thousands of words about the meaning of an author’s single word choice; while you might not want to be quite that particular, there’s a lot to be said for digging deep in literary analysis, rather than wide. 

Although you’re forming your own argument about the work, it’s not your opinion . You should avoid passing judgment on the piece and instead objectively consider what the author intended, how they went about executing it, and whether or not they were successful in doing so. Literary criticism is similar to literary analysis, but it is different in that it does pass judgement on the work. Criticism can also consider literature more broadly, without focusing on a singular work. 

Once you understand what constitutes (and doesn’t constitute) literary analysis, it’s easy to identify it. Here are some examples of literary analysis and its oft-confused counterparts: 

Summary: In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the narrator visits his friend Roderick Usher and witnesses his sister escape a horrible fate.  

Opinion: In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Poe uses his great Gothic writing to establish a sense of spookiness that is enjoyable to read. 

Literary Analysis: “Throughout ‘The Fall of the House of Usher,’ Poe foreshadows the fate of Madeline by creating a sense of claustrophobia for the reader through symbols, such as in the narrator’s inability to leave and the labyrinthine nature of the house. 

In summary, literary analysis is:

  • Breaking a work into its components
  • Identifying what those components are and how they work in the text
  • Developing an understanding of how they work together to achieve a goal 
  • Not an opinion, but subjective 
  • Not a summary, though summary can be used in passing 
  • Best when it deeply, rather than broadly, analyzes a literary element

Literary Analysis and Other Works

As discussed above, literary analysis is often performed upon a single work—but it doesn’t have to be. It can also be performed across works to consider the interplay of two or more texts. Regardless of whether or not the works were written about the same thing, or even within the same time period, they can have an influence on one another or a connection that’s worth exploring. And reading two or more texts side by side can help you to develop insights through comparison and contrast.

For example, Paradise Lost is an epic poem written in the 17th century, based largely on biblical narratives written some 700 years before and which later influenced 19th century poet John Keats. The interplay of works can be obvious, as here, or entirely the inspiration of the analyst. As an example of the latter, you could compare and contrast the writing styles of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Edgar Allan Poe who, while contemporaries in terms of time, were vastly different in their content. 

Additionally, literary analysis can be performed between a work and its context. Authors are often speaking to the larger context of their times, be that social, political, religious, economic, or artistic. A valid and interesting form is to compare the author’s context to the work, which is done by identifying and analyzing elements that are used to make an argument about the writer’s time or experience. 

For example, you could write an essay about how Hemingway’s struggles with mental health and paranoia influenced his later work, or how his involvement in the Spanish Civil War influenced his early work. One approach focuses more on his personal experience, while the other turns to the context of his times—both are valid. 

Why Does Literary Analysis Matter? 

Sometimes an author wrote a work of literature strictly for entertainment’s sake, but more often than not, they meant something more. Whether that was a missive on world peace, commentary about femininity, or an allusion to their experience as an only child, the author probably wrote their work for a reason, and understanding that reason—or the many reasons—can actually make reading a lot more meaningful. 

Performing literary analysis as a form of study unquestionably makes you a better reader. It’s also likely that it will improve other skills, too, like critical thinking, creativity, debate, and reasoning. 

At its grandest and most idealistic, literary analysis even has the ability to make the world a better place. By reading and analyzing works of literature, you are able to more fully comprehend the perspectives of others. Cumulatively, you’ll broaden your own perspectives and contribute more effectively to the things that matter to you. 

Literary Terms to Know for Literary Analysis 

There are hundreds of literary devices you could consider during your literary analysis, but there are some key tools most writers utilize to achieve their purpose—and therefore you need to know in order to understand that purpose. These common devices include: 

  • Characters: The people (or entities) who play roles in the work. The protagonist is the main character in the work. 
  • Conflict: The conflict is the driving force behind the plot, the event that causes action in the narrative, usually on the part of the protagonist
  • Context : The broader circumstances surrounding the work political and social climate in which it was written or the experience of the author. It can also refer to internal context, and the details presented by the narrator 
  • Diction : The word choice used by the narrator or characters 
  • Genre: A category of literature characterized by agreed upon similarities in the works, such as subject matter and tone
  • Imagery : The descriptive or figurative language used to paint a picture in the reader’s mind so they can picture the story’s plot, characters, and setting 
  • Metaphor: A figure of speech that uses comparison between two unlike objects for dramatic or poetic effect
  • Narrator: The person who tells the story. Sometimes they are a character within the story, but sometimes they are omniscient and removed from the plot. 
  • Plot : The storyline of the work
  • Point of view: The perspective taken by the narrator, which skews the perspective of the reader 
  • Setting : The time and place in which the story takes place. This can include elements like the time period, weather, time of year or day, and social or economic conditions 
  • Symbol : An object, person, or place that represents an abstract idea that is greater than its literal meaning 
  • Syntax : The structure of a sentence, either narration or dialogue, and the tone it implies
  • Theme : A recurring subject or message within the work, often commentary on larger societal or cultural ideas
  • Tone : The feeling, attitude, or mood the text presents

How to Perform Literary Analysis

Step 1: read the text thoroughly.

Literary analysis begins with the literature itself, which means performing a close reading of the text. As you read, you should focus on the work. That means putting away distractions (sorry, smartphone) and dedicating a period of time to the task at hand. 

It’s also important that you don’t skim or speed read. While those are helpful skills, they don’t apply to literary analysis—or at least not this stage. 

Step 2: Take Notes as You Read  

As you read the work, take notes about different literary elements and devices that stand out to you. Whether you highlight or underline in text, use sticky note tabs to mark pages and passages, or handwrite your thoughts in a notebook, you should capture your thoughts and the parts of the text to which they correspond. This—the act of noticing things about a literary work—is literary analysis. 

Step 3: Notice Patterns 

As you read the work, you’ll begin to notice patterns in the way the author deploys language, themes, and symbols to build their plot and characters. As you read and these patterns take shape, begin to consider what they could mean and how they might fit together. 

As you identify these patterns, as well as other elements that catch your interest, be sure to record them in your notes or text. Some examples include: 

  • Circle or underline words or terms that you notice the author uses frequently, whether those are nouns (like “eyes” or “road”) or adjectives (like “yellow” or “lush”).
  • Highlight phrases that give you the same kind of feeling. For example, if the narrator describes an “overcast sky,” a “dreary morning,” and a “dark, quiet room,” the words aren’t the same, but the feeling they impart and setting they develop are similar. 
  • Underline quotes or prose that define a character’s personality or their role in the text.
  • Use sticky tabs to color code different elements of the text, such as specific settings or a shift in the point of view. 

By noting these patterns, comprehensive symbols, metaphors, and ideas will begin to come into focus.  

Step 4: Consider the Work as a Whole, and Ask Questions

This is a step that you can do either as you read, or after you finish the text. The point is to begin to identify the aspects of the work that most interest you, and you could therefore analyze in writing or discussion. 

Questions you could ask yourself include: 

  • What aspects of the text do I not understand?
  • What parts of the narrative or writing struck me most?
  • What patterns did I notice?
  • What did the author accomplish really well?
  • What did I find lacking?
  • Did I notice any contradictions or anything that felt out of place?  
  • What was the purpose of the minor characters?
  • What tone did the author choose, and why? 

The answers to these and more questions will lead you to your arguments about the text. 

Step 5: Return to Your Notes and the Text for Evidence

As you identify the argument you want to make (especially if you’re preparing for an essay), return to your notes to see if you already have supporting evidence for your argument. That’s why it’s so important to take notes or mark passages as you read—you’ll thank yourself later!

If you’re preparing to write an essay, you’ll use these passages and ideas to bolster your argument—aka, your thesis. There will likely be multiple different passages you can use to strengthen multiple different aspects of your argument. Just be sure to cite the text correctly! 

If you’re preparing for class, your notes will also be invaluable. When your teacher or professor leads the conversation in the direction of your ideas or arguments, you’ll be able to not only proffer that idea but back it up with textual evidence. That’s an A+ in class participation. 

Step 6: Connect These Ideas Across the Narrative

Whether you’re in class or writing an essay, literary analysis isn’t complete until you’ve considered the way these ideas interact and contribute to the work as a whole. You can find and present evidence, but you still have to explain how those elements work together and make up your argument. 

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

When conducting literary analysis while reading a text or discussing it in class, you can pivot easily from one argument to another (or even switch sides if a classmate or teacher makes a compelling enough argument). 

But when writing literary analysis, your objective is to propose a specific, arguable thesis and convincingly defend it. In order to do so, you need to fortify your argument with evidence from the text (and perhaps secondary sources) and an authoritative tone. 

A successful literary analysis essay depends equally on a thoughtful thesis, supportive analysis, and presenting these elements masterfully. We’ll review how to accomplish these objectives below. 

Step 1: Read the Text. Maybe Read It Again. 

Constructing an astute analytical essay requires a thorough knowledge of the text. As you read, be sure to note any passages, quotes, or ideas that stand out. These could serve as the future foundation of your thesis statement. Noting these sections now will help you when you need to gather evidence. 

The more familiar you become with the text, the better (and easier!) your essay will be. Familiarity with the text allows you to speak (or in this case, write) to it confidently. If you only skim the book, your lack of rich understanding will be evident in your essay. Alternatively, if you read the text closely—especially if you read it more than once, or at least carefully revisit important passages—your own writing will be filled with insight that goes beyond a basic understanding of the storyline. 

Step 2: Brainstorm Potential Topics 

Because you took detailed notes while reading the text, you should have a list of potential topics at the ready. Take time to review your notes, highlighting any ideas or questions you had that feel interesting. You should also return to the text and look for any passages that stand out to you. 

When considering potential topics, you should prioritize ideas that you find interesting. It won’t only make the whole process of writing an essay more fun, your enthusiasm for the topic will probably improve the quality of your argument, and maybe even your writing. Just like it’s obvious when a topic interests you in a conversation, it’s obvious when a topic interests the writer of an essay (and even more obvious when it doesn’t). 

Your topic ideas should also be specific, unique, and arguable. A good way to think of topics is that they’re the answer to fairly specific questions. As you begin to brainstorm, first think of questions you have about the text. Questions might focus on the plot, such as: Why did the author choose to deviate from the projected storyline? Or why did a character’s role in the narrative shift? Questions might also consider the use of a literary device, such as: Why does the narrator frequently repeat a phrase or comment on a symbol? Or why did the author choose to switch points of view each chapter? 

Once you have a thesis question , you can begin brainstorming answers—aka, potential thesis statements . At this point, your answers can be fairly broad. Once you land on a question-statement combination that feels right, you’ll then look for evidence in the text that supports your answer (and helps you define and narrow your thesis statement). 

For example, after reading “ The Fall of the House of Usher ,” you might be wondering, Why are Roderick and Madeline twins?, Or even: Why does their relationship feel so creepy?” Maybe you noticed (and noted) that the narrator was surprised to find out they were twins, or perhaps you found that the narrator’s tone tended to shift and become more anxious when discussing the interactions of the twins.

Once you come up with your thesis question, you can identify a broad answer, which will become the basis for your thesis statement. In response to the questions above, your answer might be, “Poe emphasizes the close relationship of Roderick and Madeline to foreshadow that their deaths will be close, too.” 

Step 3: Gather Evidence 

Once you have your topic (or you’ve narrowed it down to two or three), return to the text (yes, again) to see what evidence you can find to support it. If you’re thinking of writing about the relationship between Roderick and Madeline in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” look for instances where they engaged in the text. 

This is when your knowledge of literary devices comes in clutch. Carefully study the language around each event in the text that might be relevant to your topic. How does Poe’s diction or syntax change during the interactions of the siblings? How does the setting reflect or contribute to their relationship? What imagery or symbols appear when Roderick and Madeline are together? 

By finding and studying evidence within the text, you’ll strengthen your topic argument—or, just as valuably, discount the topics that aren’t strong enough for analysis. 

how to write a literary essay video

Step 4: Consider Secondary Sources 

In addition to returning to the literary work you’re studying for evidence, you can also consider secondary sources that reference or speak to the work. These can be articles from journals you find on JSTOR, books that consider the work or its context, or articles your teacher shared in class. 

While you can use these secondary sources to further support your idea, you should not overuse them. Make sure your topic remains entirely differentiated from that presented in the source. 

Step 5: Write a Working Thesis Statement

Once you’ve gathered evidence and narrowed down your topic, you’re ready to refine that topic into a thesis statement. As you continue to outline and write your paper, this thesis statement will likely change slightly, but this initial draft will serve as the foundation of your essay. It’s like your north star: Everything you write in your essay is leading you back to your thesis. 

Writing a great thesis statement requires some real finesse. A successful thesis statement is: 

  • Debatable : You shouldn’t simply summarize or make an obvious statement about the work. Instead, your thesis statement should take a stand on an issue or make a claim that is open to argument. You’ll spend your essay debating—and proving—your argument. 
  • Demonstrable : You need to be able to prove, through evidence, that your thesis statement is true. That means you have to have passages from the text and correlative analysis ready to convince the reader that you’re right. 
  • Specific : In most cases, successfully addressing a theme that encompasses a work in its entirety would require a book-length essay. Instead, identify a thesis statement that addresses specific elements of the work, such as a relationship between characters, a repeating symbol, a key setting, or even something really specific like the speaking style of a character. 

Example: By depicting the relationship between Roderick and Madeline to be stifling and almost otherworldly in its closeness, Poe foreshadows both Madeline’s fate and Roderick’s inability to choose a different fate for himself. 

Step 6: Write an Outline 

You have your thesis, you have your evidence—but how do you put them together? A great thesis statement (and therefore a great essay) will have multiple arguments supporting it, presenting different kinds of evidence that all contribute to the singular, main idea presented in your thesis. 

Review your evidence and identify these different arguments, then organize the evidence into categories based on the argument they support. These ideas and evidence will become the body paragraphs of your essay. 

For example, if you were writing about Roderick and Madeline as in the example above, you would pull evidence from the text, such as the narrator’s realization of their relationship as twins; examples where the narrator’s tone of voice shifts when discussing their relationship; imagery, like the sounds Roderick hears as Madeline tries to escape; and Poe’s tendency to use doubles and twins in his other writings to create the same spooky effect. All of these are separate strains of the same argument, and can be clearly organized into sections of an outline. 

Step 7: Write Your Introduction

Your introduction serves a few very important purposes that essentially set the scene for the reader: 

  • Establish context. Sure, your reader has probably read the work. But you still want to remind them of the scene, characters, or elements you’ll be discussing. 
  • Present your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the backbone of your analytical paper. You need to present it clearly at the outset so that the reader understands what every argument you make is aimed at. 
  • Offer a mini-outline. While you don’t want to show all your cards just yet, you do want to preview some of the evidence you’ll be using to support your thesis so that the reader has a roadmap of where they’re going. 

Step 8: Write Your Body Paragraphs

Thanks to steps one through seven, you’ve already set yourself up for success. You have clearly outlined arguments and evidence to support them. Now it’s time to translate those into authoritative and confident prose. 

When presenting each idea, begin with a topic sentence that encapsulates the argument you’re about to make (sort of like a mini-thesis statement). Then present your evidence and explanations of that evidence that contribute to that argument. Present enough material to prove your point, but don’t feel like you necessarily have to point out every single instance in the text where this element takes place. For example, if you’re highlighting a symbol that repeats throughout the narrative, choose two or three passages where it is used most effectively, rather than trying to squeeze in all ten times it appears. 

While you should have clearly defined arguments, the essay should still move logically and fluidly from one argument to the next. Try to avoid choppy paragraphs that feel disjointed; every idea and argument should feel connected to the last, and, as a group, connected to your thesis. A great way to connect the ideas from one paragraph to the next is with transition words and phrases, such as: 

  • Furthermore 
  • In addition
  • On the other hand
  • Conversely 

how to write a literary essay video

Step 9: Write Your Conclusion 

Your conclusion is more than a summary of your essay's parts, but it’s also not a place to present brand new ideas not already discussed in your essay. Instead, your conclusion should return to your thesis (without repeating it verbatim) and point to why this all matters. If writing about the siblings in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” for example, you could point out that the utilization of twins and doubles is a common literary element of Poe’s work that contributes to the definitive eeriness of Gothic literature. 

While you might speak to larger ideas in your conclusion, be wary of getting too macro. Your conclusion should still be supported by all of the ideas that preceded it. 

Step 10: Revise, Revise, Revise

Of course you should proofread your literary analysis essay before you turn it in. But you should also edit the content to make sure every piece of evidence and every explanation directly supports your thesis as effectively and efficiently as possible. 

Sometimes, this might mean actually adapting your thesis a bit to the rest of your essay. At other times, it means removing redundant examples or paraphrasing quotations. Make sure every sentence is valuable, and remove those that aren’t. 

Other Resources for Literary Analysis 

With these skills and suggestions, you’re well on your way to practicing and writing literary analysis. But if you don’t have a firm grasp on the concepts discussed above—such as literary devices or even the content of the text you’re analyzing—it will still feel difficult to produce insightful analysis. 

If you’d like to sharpen the tools in your literature toolbox, there are plenty of other resources to help you do so: 

  • Check out our expansive library of Literary Devices . These could provide you with a deeper understanding of the basic devices discussed above or introduce you to new concepts sure to impress your professors ( anagnorisis , anyone?). 
  • This Academic Citation Resource Guide ensures you properly cite any work you reference in your analytical essay. 
  • Our English Homework Help Guide will point you to dozens of resources that can help you perform analysis, from critical reading strategies to poetry helpers. 
  • This Grammar Education Resource Guide will direct you to plenty of resources to refine your grammar and writing (definitely important for getting an A+ on that paper). 

Of course, you should know the text inside and out before you begin writing your analysis. In order to develop a true understanding of the work, read through its corresponding SuperSummary study guide . Doing so will help you truly comprehend the plot, as well as provide some inspirational ideas for your analysis.

how to write a literary essay video

Literary Analysis Essay

Literary Analysis Essay Writing

Last updated on: May 21, 2023

Literary Analysis Essay - Ultimate Guide By Professionals

By: Cordon J.

Reviewed By: Rylee W.

Published on: Dec 3, 2019

Literary Analysis Essay

A literary analysis essay specifically examines and evaluates a piece of literature or a literary work. It also understands and explains the links between the small parts to their whole information.

It is important for students to understand the meaning and the true essence of literature to write a literary essay.

One of the most difficult assignments for students is writing a literary analysis essay. It can be hard to come up with an original idea or find enough material to write about. You might think you need years of experience in order to create a good paper, but that's not true.

This blog post will show you how easy it can be when you follow the steps given here.Writing such an essay involves the breakdown of a book into small parts and understanding each part separately. It seems easy, right?

Trust us, it is not as hard as good book reports but it may also not be extremely easy. You will have to take into account different approaches and explain them in relation with the chosen literary work.

It is a common high school and college assignment and you can learn everything in this blog.

Continue reading for some useful tips with an example to write a literary analysis essay that will be on point. You can also explore our detailed article on writing an analytical essay .

Literary Analysis Essay

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What is a Literary Analysis Essay?

A literary analysis essay is an important kind of essay that focuses on the detailed analysis of the work of literature.

The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to explain why the author has used a specific theme for his work. Or examine the characters, themes, literary devices , figurative language, and settings in the story.

This type of essay encourages students to think about how the book or the short story has been written. And why the author has created this work.

The method used in the literary analysis essay differs from other types of essays. It primarily focuses on the type of work and literature that is being analyzed.

Mostly, you will be going to break down the work into various parts. In order to develop a better understanding of the idea being discussed, each part will be discussed separately.

The essay should explain the choices of the author and point of view along with your answers and personal analysis.

How To Write A Literary Analysis Essay

So how to start a literary analysis essay? The answer to this question is quite simple.

The following sections are required to write an effective literary analysis essay. By following the guidelines given in the following sections, you will be able to craft a winning literary analysis essay.


The aim of the introduction is to establish a context for readers. You have to give a brief on the background of the selected topic.

It should contain the name of the author of the literary work along with its title. The introduction should be effective enough to grab the reader’s attention.

In the body section, you have to retell the story that the writer has narrated. It is a good idea to create a summary as it is one of the important tips of literary analysis.

Other than that, you are required to develop ideas and disclose the observed information related to the issue. The ideal length of the body section is around 1000 words.

To write the body section, your observation should be based on evidence and your own style of writing.

It would be great if the body of your essay is divided into three paragraphs. Make a strong argument with facts related to the thesis statement in all of the paragraphs in the body section.

Start writing each paragraph with a topic sentence and use transition words when moving to the next paragraph.

Summarize the important points of your literary analysis essay in this section. It is important to compose a short and strong conclusion to help you make a final impression of your essay.

Pay attention that this section does not contain any new information. It should provide a sense of completion by restating the main idea with a short description of your arguments. End the conclusion with your supporting details.

You have to explain why the book is important. Also, elaborate on the means that the authors used to convey her/his opinion regarding the issue.

For further understanding, here is a downloadable literary analysis essay outline. This outline will help you structure and format your essay properly and earn an A easily.


Types of Literary Analysis Essay

  • Close reading - This method involves attentive reading and detailed analysis. No need for a lot of knowledge and inspiration to write an essay that shows your creative skills.
  • Theoretical - In this type, you will rely on theories related to the selected topic.
  • Historical - This type of essay concerns the discipline of history. Sometimes historical analysis is required to explain events in detail.
  • Applied - This type involves analysis of a specific issue from a practical perspective.
  • Comparative - This type of writing is based on when two or more alternatives are compared

Examples of Literary Analysis Essay

Examples are great to understand any concept, especially if it is related to writing. Below are some great literary analysis essay examples that showcase how this type of essay is written.





If you do not have experience in writing essays, this will be a very chaotic process for you. In that case, it is very important for you to conduct good research on the topic before writing.

There are two important points that you should keep in mind when writing a literary analysis essay.

First, remember that it is very important to select a topic in which you are interested. Choose something that really inspires you. This will help you to catch the attention of a reader.

The selected topic should reflect the main idea of writing. In addition to that, it should also express your point of view as well.

Another important thing is to draft a good outline for your literary analysis essay. It will help you to define a central point and division of this into parts for further discussion.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Literary analysis essays are mostly based on artistic works like books, movies, paintings, and other forms of art. However, generally, students choose novels and books to write their literary essays.

Some cool, fresh, and good topics and ideas are listed below:

  • Role of the Three Witches in flaming Macbeth’s ambition.
  • Analyze the themes of the Play Antigone,
  • Discuss Ajax as a tragic hero.
  • The Judgement of Paris: Analyze the Reasons and their Consequences.
  • Oedipus Rex: A Doomed Son or a Conqueror?
  • Describe the Oedipus complex and Electra complex in relation to their respective myths.
  • Betrayal is a common theme of Shakespearean tragedies. Discuss
  • Identify and analyze the traits of history in T.S Eliot’s ‘Gerontion’.
  • Analyze the theme of identity crisis in The Great Gatsby.
  • Analyze the writing style of Emily Dickinson.

If you are still in doubt then there is nothing bad in getting professional writers’ help.

We at can help you get a custom paper as per your specified requirements with our do essay for me service.

Our essay writers will help you write outstanding literary essays or any other type of essay. Such as compare and contrast essays, descriptive essays, rhetorical essays. We cover all of these.

So don’t waste your time browsing the internet and place your order now to get your well-written custom paper.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should a literary analysis essay include.

A good literary analysis essay must include a proper and in-depth explanation of your ideas. They must be backed with examples and evidence from the text. Textual evidence includes summaries, paraphrased text, original work details, and direct quotes.

What are the 4 components of literary analysis?

Here are the 4 essential parts of a literary analysis essay;

No literary work is explained properly without discussing and explaining these 4 things.

How do you start a literary analysis essay?

Start your literary analysis essay with the name of the work and the title. Hook your readers by introducing the main ideas that you will discuss in your essay and engage them from the start.

How do you do a literary analysis?

In a literary analysis essay, you study the text closely, understand and interpret its meanings. And try to find out the reasons behind why the author has used certain symbols, themes, and objects in the work.

Why is literary analysis important?

It encourages the students to think beyond their existing knowledge, experiences, and belief and build empathy. This helps in improving the writing skills also.

What is the fundamental characteristic of a literary analysis essay?

Interpretation is the fundamental and important feature of a literary analysis essay. The essay is based on how well the writer explains and interprets the work.

Cordon J.

Law, Finance Essay

Cordon. is a published author and writing specialist. He has worked in the publishing industry for many years, providing writing services and digital content. His own writing career began with a focus on literature and linguistics, which he continues to pursue. Cordon is an engaging and professional individual, always looking to help others achieve their goals.

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The Subtle Art of Writing an Literary Analysis Essay

29 July, 2020

12 minutes read

Author:  Tomas White

When studying at school, college, or university, you get dozens of writing tasks, and a literary analysis essay is one of them. You have to study a piece of literature and write about the core idea, characters, or the author’s intentions. In some cases, it’s necessary to explore style, plot, structure, and other elements to explain how they complement or weaken each other.

Literary Analysis Essay

Although it’s an interesting task, students often don’t have enough time or writing skills to craft a literary analysis essay excellently. Our article will help you cope with the assignment and compose a flawless paper. Discover how to craft an outline, start a literary analysis essay, and many more.

how to write a literary essay video

What is a Literary Analysis Essay?

Paper quality depends not only on the writer’s skills or the presence of fresh ideas in a text but also on their understanding of what is a literary analysis essay. Many students make the same mistake and compose reviews or just describe what they’ve read, but it’s not the purpose of this task. Take a look at the explanation of a literary analysis below to avoid the confusion:

Literary analysis essay definition

A literary analysis essay involves studying the text, evaluating the plot, analyzing characters, and determining devices used by the author to engage and influence readers. A novel, tale, poem, play, or another piece of literature can become the object of your research. When composing a literary analysis essay, a writer explores the text form, style, perspective, and characters.

What is the purpose of a literary analysis essay?

An excellently composed literary analysis essay demonstrates that you’ve looked at the events described in the literature piece from different perspectives. Examination of all the major elements, including a text structure, plot, author’s style, characters’ qualities, main theme, and form is an essential stage of the writing process. After you study all the important components, provide a conclusion on how they interact with each other and influence your overall impression.

How to Start a Literary Analysis Essay?

Now that you know a literary analysis essay definition, you’re ready to move further and discover the secrets of writing the paper. When reading the text, you must be very attentive. Notice the tricks the author uses to engage the reader, surprising details, and uncommon character’s features. Use these elements for your analysis.

It’s also necessary to answer a few important questions to discover the essence of the literature piece you’ve just read:

  • Which parts are the most essential ones?
  • What literary devices did the author use, and why did they choose them?
  • Do characters change somehow?

After you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have to determine the relationships between the ideas and storyline, the characters’ behavior, and how their roles change in a piece. Conduct comprehensive research to get information about the text, its background, and the author. These materials will help you understand the writer’s intentions and ideas better.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

Crafting a literary analysis essay outline is an efficient method to organize your materials and structure a paper. An outline will contain all the core thoughts of your research. It helps an essay writer figure out whether they’ve studied all the essential elements and mentioned all the points.

Before you design an outline, it’s necessary to write a thesis statement that shortly describes your paper’s content. Usually, it contains one sentence and presents the entire sense of the essay. Crafting an outline is the next step after composing a thesis statement. Traditionally, it consists of 3 sections:

  • Introduction . This part is the most important one, as it should explain the main points of the body text and grab the reader’s attention. However, it’s not only a brief description of the essay’s content – you have to compose a catchy introduction that engages the audience. It’s necessary to use a hook to grab the reader’s attention and make them wonder what happens in the next literary analysis essay’s section. You can add a quote, an interesting fact connected with the book or the author, or write a question and promise to provide the answer in the next part.
  • Body text . After you’ve composed the introduction, it’s necessary to move to the next step in your writing. Body text will contain all your statements, arguments, and important details supporting your analysis. Usually, this section has 3 paragraphs, but you can extend it depending on the task complexity and the professor’s requirements. When designing an outline, use the columns or bullet points to present the main ideas. These lists will help you figure out which details are unnecessary in your essay.
  • Conclusion . Your final thoughts will shape the entire paper and influence the reader’s impression. At this point, the audience gets the overall impression of your analysis and decides whether you’re right or wrong. Name the paper’s core thoughts and write your final statement. You can write a sentence or two about the significance of the author’s idea or the impact made by the piece.

Literary Analysis Essay Examples

Check this short list of literary analysis essay example to get the idea:


20 Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Sometimes professors allow students to pick topics themselves, and it’s a lucky ticket in the academic world. You can choose your favorite book or novel, research it, and provide excellent analysis. If you’ve written about the piece you love before or want to impress the professor, we recommend you to check our list of literary analysis essay topics for more ideas:

  • Examining the structure of Kurt Vonnegut’s “ Slaughterhouse-Five. ”
  • Explaining the importance of Ray Bradbury’s “ Fahrenheit 451. ”
  • Analyzing the changes in Ebenezer Scrooge’s character over the course of “ A Christmas Carol. ”
  • The importance of symbolism in “ Wuthering Heights .”
  • Examining Ernest Hemingway’s writing style.
  • The connection of plot lines in “ Froth of Days ” by Boris Vian.
  • The lasting influence of “ The Catcher in the Rye .”
  • Literary devices used by George Orwell in “ 1984. ”
  • The use of humor in Mark Twain’s short stories.
  • The impact of “ To Kill a Mockingbird .”
  • Analyzing the allegory in William Golding’s “ Lord of the Flies .”
  • “ Pride and Prejudice ” character analysis.
  • “ Love in the Time of Cholera ”: Florentino Ariza character analysis.
  • The significance of Herman Melville’s “ Moby-Dick .”
  • Plot analysis of William Shakespeare’s “ Hamlet. ”
  • The influence of Jack London’s life on his works.
  • The analysis of Jane Eyre’s personality.
  • Mysticism in Edgar Allan Poe’s novels.
  • Language analysis in Haper Lee’s “ To Kill  Mockingbird .”
  • Stylistic analysis of “ The Great Gatsby .”

Useful Tips for Literary Analysis Essay

A literary analysis essay requires time, patience, and attentiveness. When reading a piece, don’t be lazy to write down all the important details connected with characters, plot, author’s style, ideas, etc. You also must be very attentive to notice important elements. However, attentiveness isn’t the only thing that will help you craft a paper. Read our tips to learn how to write a literary analysis essay flawlessly and get the best grade:

1. Read carefully

Choose a cozy place for reading – it’s where no one will disturb you, and noise won’t interrupt the process. Only in this case, you’ll notice the most important details. If you pick the right environment, you’ll be able to concentrate on a story. You can choose a quiet place in a park, stay in your room, or go to a library.

2. Take notes

Do characters have specific features? What makes the writer’s style special? How does symbolism influence text comprehension? Write down all the interesting or intriguing details you notice. You can use this information in your literary analysis essay.

3. Determine literary devices

Writers use literary devices to create special effects that help readers understand their intentions, interpret their works, and analyze them. Besides, these elements often become the author’s identifying feature that helps them stand out from the crowd. Here’s the list of literary devices you have to know:

  • Personification
  • Alliteration
  • Foreshadowing

4. Consider language style

It’s necessary to pay attention to the length of sentences, terminology, descriptions, presence of metaphors, etc. Does the writer use simple words to describe an object or go poetic? Is it easy to understand the text? Does the author use slang or conventional terms?

The writer’s style tells a lot about their piece – even more than you can imagine. Besides, the characters’ language style is one of their most important features. It helps readers understand their personalities. If your topic is connected with the character analysis, taking notes about language is a must for you.

5. Determine the narrator

Who’s telling the story? It can be told by a character or by an author watching the course of events from a distant perspective. You have to determine the role of the narrator in a story. Do they know everything about other characters? Is their role important for story development? Of course, if an author is a narrator, you won’t have to wonder whether they influence the piece somehow. If a character tells the story, the chances are that they hide some information or don’t know much about different events. In this case, some details may become evident in the end.

Write a Literary Analysis Essay with HandmadeWriting

If you need someone to help you craft a literary analysis essay, it’s necessary to choose a reputable service. You can rely on HandmadeWriting whenever assignments seem too difficult to cope with solely. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have enough time for the task completion because a professional writer will compose a flawless paper within the tightest timeframes.

HandmadeWriting has over 700 experienced writers specializing in different fields. They cope even with the most complicated tasks and deliver original papers in time. Writers at HandmadeWriting do their best to help students compose excellent essays. They’re passionate researchers who use many credible sources where they get the necessary information from. All the papers are also checked for plagiarism and edited.

Writing a literary analysis essay is an exciting yet time-consuming process. It’s necessary to read the piece of literature carefully to notice all the essential details. Composing a thesis statement, outlining an essay, and writing a meaningful paper are the next steps. If you aren’t sure about your skills or simply don’t have time because of the academic overload, you can address HandmadeWriting for professional help.

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Interesting Literature

How to Write a Good English Literature Essay

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

How do you write a good English Literature essay? Although to an extent this depends on the particular subject you’re writing about, and on the nature of the question your essay is attempting to answer, there are a few general guidelines for how to write a convincing essay – just as there are a few guidelines for writing well in any field.

We at Interesting Literature  call them ‘guidelines’ because we hesitate to use the word ‘rules’, which seems too programmatic. And as the writing habits of successful authors demonstrate, there is no  one way to become a good writer – of essays, novels, poems, or whatever it is you’re setting out to write. The French writer Colette liked to begin her writing day by picking the fleas off her cat.

Edith Sitwell, by all accounts, liked to lie in an open coffin before she began her day’s writing. Friedrich von Schiller kept rotten apples in his desk, claiming he needed the scent of their decay to help him write. (For most student essay-writers, such an aroma is probably allowed to arise in the writing-room more organically, over time.)

We will address our suggestions for successful essay-writing to the average student of English Literature, whether at university or school level. There are many ways to approach the task of essay-writing, and these are just a few pointers for how to write a better English essay – and some of these pointers may also work for other disciplines and subjects, too.

Of course, these guidelines are designed to be of interest to the non-essay-writer too – people who have an interest in the craft of writing in general. If this describes you, we hope you enjoy the list as well. Remember, though, everyone can find writing difficult: as Thomas Mann memorably put it, ‘A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.’ Nora Ephron was briefer: ‘I think the hardest thing about writing is writing.’ So, the guidelines for successful essay-writing:

1. Planning is important, but don’t spend too long perfecting a structure that might end up changing.

This may seem like odd advice to kick off with, but the truth is that different approaches work for different students and essayists. You need to find out which method works best for you.

It’s not a bad idea, regardless of whether you’re a big planner or not, to sketch out perhaps a few points on a sheet of paper before you start, but don’t be surprised if you end up moving away from it slightly – or considerably – when you start to write.

Often the most extensively planned essays are the most mechanistic and dull in execution, precisely because the writer has drawn up a plan and refused to deviate from it. What  is a more valuable skill is to be able to sense when your argument may be starting to go off-topic, or your point is getting out of hand,  as you write . (For help on this, see point 5 below.)

We might even say that when it comes to knowing how to write a good English Literature essay,  practising  is more important than planning.

2. Make room for close analysis of the text, or texts.

Whilst it’s true that some first-class or A-grade essays will be impressive without containing any close reading as such, most of the highest-scoring and most sophisticated essays tend to zoom in on the text and examine its language and imagery closely in the course of the argument. (Close reading of literary texts arises from theology and the analysis of holy scripture, but really became a ‘thing’ in literary criticism in the early twentieth century, when T. S. Eliot, F. R. Leavis, William Empson, and other influential essayists started to subject the poem or novel to close scrutiny.)

Close reading has two distinct advantages: it increases the specificity of your argument (so you can’t be so easily accused of generalising a point), and it improves your chances of pointing up something about the text which none of the other essays your marker is reading will have said. For instance, take In Memoriam  (1850), which is a long Victorian poem by the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson about his grief following the death of his close friend, Arthur Hallam, in the early 1830s.

When answering a question about the representation of religious faith in Tennyson’s poem  In Memoriam  (1850), how might you write a particularly brilliant essay about this theme? Anyone can make a general point about the poet’s crisis of faith; but to look closely at the language used gives you the chance to show  how the poet portrays this.

For instance, consider this stanza, which conveys the poet’s doubt:

A solid and perfectly competent essay might cite this stanza in support of the claim that Tennyson is finding it increasingly difficult to have faith in God (following the untimely and senseless death of his friend, Arthur Hallam). But there are several ways of then doing something more with it. For instance, you might get close to the poem’s imagery, and show how Tennyson conveys this idea, through the image of the ‘altar-stairs’ associated with religious worship and the idea of the stairs leading ‘thro’ darkness’ towards God.

In other words, Tennyson sees faith as a matter of groping through the darkness, trusting in God without having evidence that he is there. If you like, it’s a matter of ‘blind faith’. That would be a good reading. Now, here’s how to make a good English essay on this subject even better: one might look at how the word ‘falter’ – which encapsulates Tennyson’s stumbling faith – disperses into ‘falling’ and ‘altar’ in the succeeding lines. The word ‘falter’, we might say, itself falters or falls apart.

That is doing more than just interpreting the words: it’s being a highly careful reader of the poetry and showing how attentive to the language of the poetry you can be – all the while answering the question, about how the poem portrays the idea of faith. So, read and then reread the text you’re writing about – and be sensitive to such nuances of language and style.

The best way to  become attuned to such nuances is revealed in point 5. We might summarise this point as follows: when it comes to knowing how to write a persuasive English Literature essay, it’s one thing to have a broad and overarching argument, but don’t be afraid to use the  microscope as well as the telescope.

3. Provide several pieces of evidence where possible.

Many essays have a point to make and make it, tacking on a single piece of evidence from the text (or from beyond the text, e.g. a critical, historical, or biographical source) in the hope that this will be enough to make the point convincing.

‘State, quote, explain’ is the Holy Trinity of the Paragraph for many. What’s wrong with it? For one thing, this approach is too formulaic and basic for many arguments. Is one quotation enough to support a point? It’s often a matter of degree, and although one piece of evidence is better than none, two or three pieces will be even more persuasive.

After all, in a court of law a single eyewitness account won’t be enough to convict the accused of the crime, and even a confession from the accused would carry more weight if it comes supported by other, objective evidence (e.g. DNA, fingerprints, and so on).

Let’s go back to the example about Tennyson’s faith in his poem  In Memoriam  mentioned above. Perhaps you don’t find the end of the poem convincing – when the poet claims to have rediscovered his Christian faith and to have overcome his grief at the loss of his friend.

You can find examples from the end of the poem to suggest your reading of the poet’s insincerity may have validity, but looking at sources beyond the poem – e.g. a good edition of the text, which will contain biographical and critical information – may help you to find a clinching piece of evidence to support your reading.

And, sure enough, Tennyson is reported to have said of  In Memoriam : ‘It’s too hopeful, this poem, more than I am myself.’ And there we have it: much more convincing than simply positing your reading of the poem with a few ambiguous quotations from the poem itself.

Of course, this rule also works in reverse: if you want to argue, for instance, that T. S. Eliot’s  The Waste Land is overwhelmingly inspired by the poet’s unhappy marriage to his first wife, then using a decent biographical source makes sense – but if you didn’t show evidence for this idea from the poem itself (see point 2), all you’ve got is a vague, general link between the poet’s life and his work.

Show  how the poet’s marriage is reflected in the work, e.g. through men and women’s relationships throughout the poem being shown as empty, soulless, and unhappy. In other words, when setting out to write a good English essay about any text, don’t be afraid to  pile on  the evidence – though be sensible, a handful of quotations or examples should be more than enough to make your point convincing.

4. Avoid tentative or speculative phrasing.

Many essays tend to suffer from the above problem of a lack of evidence, so the point fails to convince. This has a knock-on effect: often the student making the point doesn’t sound especially convinced by it either. This leaks out in the telling use of, and reliance on, certain uncertain  phrases: ‘Tennyson might have’ or ‘perhaps Harper Lee wrote this to portray’ or ‘it can be argued that’.

An English university professor used to write in the margins of an essay which used this last phrase, ‘What  can’t be argued?’

This is a fair criticism: anything can be argued (badly), but it depends on what evidence you can bring to bear on it (point 3) as to whether it will be a persuasive argument. (Arguing that the plays of Shakespeare were written by a Martian who came down to Earth and ingratiated himself with the world of Elizabethan theatre is a theory that can be argued, though few would take it seriously. We wish we could say ‘none’, but that’s a story for another day.)

Many essay-writers, because they’re aware that texts are often open-ended and invite multiple interpretations (as almost all great works of literature invariably do), think that writing ‘it can be argued’ acknowledges the text’s rich layering of meaning and is therefore valid.

Whilst this is certainly a fact – texts are open-ended and can be read in wildly different ways – the phrase ‘it can be argued’ is best used sparingly if at all. It should be taken as true that your interpretation is, at bottom, probably unprovable. What would it mean to ‘prove’ a reading as correct, anyway? Because you found evidence that the author intended the same thing as you’ve argued of their text? Tennyson wrote in a letter, ‘I wrote In Memoriam  because…’?

But the author might have lied about it (e.g. in an attempt to dissuade people from looking too much into their private life), or they might have changed their mind (to go back to the example of  The Waste Land : T. S. Eliot championed the idea of poetic impersonality in an essay of 1919, but years later he described  The Waste Land as ‘only the relief of a personal and wholly insignificant grouse against life’ – hardly impersonal, then).

Texts – and their writers – can often be contradictory, or cagey about their meaning. But we as critics have to act responsibly when writing about literary texts in any good English essay or exam answer. We need to argue honestly, and sincerely – and not use what Wikipedia calls ‘weasel words’ or hedging expressions.

So, if nothing is utterly provable, all that remains is to make the strongest possible case you can with the evidence available. You do this, not only through marshalling the evidence in an effective way, but by writing in a confident voice when making your case. Fundamentally, ‘There is evidence to suggest that’ says more or less the same thing as ‘It can be argued’, but it foregrounds the  evidence rather than the argument, so is preferable as a phrase.

This point might be summarised by saying: the best way to write a good English Literature essay is to be honest about the reading you’re putting forward, so you can be confident in your interpretation and use clear, bold language. (‘Bold’ is good, but don’t get too cocky, of course…)

5. Read the work of other critics.

This might be viewed as the Holy Grail of good essay-writing tips, since it is perhaps the single most effective way to improve your own writing. Even if you’re writing an essay as part of school coursework rather than a university degree, and don’t need to research other critics for your essay, it’s worth finding a good writer of literary criticism and reading their work. Why is this worth doing?

Published criticism has at least one thing in its favour, at least if it’s published by an academic press or has appeared in an academic journal, and that is that it’s most probably been peer-reviewed, meaning that other academics have read it, closely studied its argument, checked it for errors or inaccuracies, and helped to ensure that it is expressed in a fluent, clear, and effective way.

If you’re serious about finding out how to write a better English essay, then you need to study how successful writers in the genre do it. And essay-writing is a genre, the same as novel-writing or poetry. But why will reading criticism help you? Because the critics you read can show you how to do all of the above: how to present a close reading of a poem, how to advance an argument that is not speculative or tentative yet not over-confident, how to use evidence from the text to make your argument more persuasive.

And, the more you read of other critics – a page a night, say, over a few months – the better you’ll get. It’s like textual osmosis: a little bit of their style will rub off on you, and every writer learns by the examples of other writers.

As T. S. Eliot himself said, ‘The poem which is absolutely original is absolutely bad.’ Don’t get precious about your own distinctive writing style and become afraid you’ll lose it. You can’t  gain a truly original style before you’ve looked at other people’s and worked out what you like and what you can ‘steal’ for your own ends.

We say ‘steal’, but this is not the same as saying that plagiarism is okay, of course. But consider this example. You read an accessible book on Shakespeare’s language and the author makes a point about rhymes in Shakespeare. When you’re working on your essay on the poetry of Christina Rossetti, you notice a similar use of rhyme, and remember the point made by the Shakespeare critic.

This is not plagiarising a point but applying it independently to another writer. It shows independent interpretive skills and an ability to understand and apply what you have read. This is another of the advantages of reading critics, so this would be our final piece of advice for learning how to write a good English essay: find a critic whose style you like, and study their craft.

If you’re looking for suggestions, we can recommend a few favourites: Christopher Ricks, whose  The Force of Poetry is a tour de force; Jonathan Bate, whose  The Genius of Shakespeare , although written for a general rather than academic audience, is written by a leading Shakespeare scholar and academic; and Helen Gardner, whose  The Art of T. S. Eliot , whilst dated (it came out in 1949), is a wonderfully lucid and articulate analysis of Eliot’s poetry.

James Wood’s How Fiction Works  is also a fine example of lucid prose and how to close-read literary texts. Doubtless readers of  Interesting Literature will have their own favourites to suggest in the comments, so do check those out, as these are just three personal favourites. What’s your favourite work of literary scholarship/criticism? Suggestions please.

Much of all this may strike you as common sense, but even the most commonsensical advice can go out of your mind when you have a piece of coursework to write, or an exam to revise for. We hope these suggestions help to remind you of some of the key tenets of good essay-writing practice – though remember, these aren’t so much commandments as recommendations. No one can ‘tell’ you how to write a good English Literature essay as such.

But it can be learned. And remember, be interesting – find the things in the poems or plays or novels which really ignite your enthusiasm. As John Mortimer said, ‘The only rule I have found to have any validity in writing is not to bore yourself.’

Finally, good luck – and happy writing!

And if you enjoyed these tips for how to write a persuasive English essay, check out our advice for how to remember things for exams  and our tips for becoming a better close reader of poetry .

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30 thoughts on “How to Write a Good English Literature Essay”

You must have taken AP Literature. I’m always saying these same points to my students.

I also think a crucial part of excellent essay writing that too many students do not realize is that not every point or interpretation needs to be addressed. When offered the chance to write your interpretation of a work of literature, it is important to note that there of course are many but your essay should choose one and focus evidence on this one view rather than attempting to include all views and evidence to back up each view.

Reblogged this on SocioTech'nowledge .

Not a bad effort…not at all! (Did you intend “subject” instead of “object” in numbered paragraph two, line seven?”

Oops! I did indeed – many thanks for spotting. Duly corrected ;)

That’s what comes of writing about philosophy and the subject/object for another post at the same time!

Reblogged this on Scribing English .

  • Pingback: Recommended Resource: Interesting & how to write an essay | Write Out Loud

Great post on essay writing! I’ve shared a post about this and about the blog site in general which you can look at here:

All of these are very good points – especially I like 2 and 5. I’d like to read the essay on the Martian who wrote Shakespeare’s plays).

Reblogged this on Uniqely Mustered and commented: Dedicate this to all upcoming writers and lovers of Writing!

I shall take this as my New Year boost in Writing Essays. Please try to visit often for corrections,advise and criticisms.

Reblogged this on Blue Banana Bread .

Reblogged this on worldsinthenet .

All very good points, but numbers 2 and 4 are especially interesting.

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Reblogged this on rainniewu .

Reblogged this on pixcdrinks .

  • Pingback: How to Write a Good English Essay? Interesting Literature | EngLL.Com

Great post. Interesting infographic how to write an argumentative essay

Reblogged this on DISTINCT CHARACTER and commented: Good Tips

Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented: This could be applied to novel or short story writing as well.

Reblogged this on rosetech67 and commented: Useful, albeit maybe a bit late for me :-)

  • Pingback: How to Write a Good English Essay | georg28ang

such a nice pieace of content you shared in this write up about “How to Write a Good English Essay” going to share on another useful resource that is

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A well rounded summary on all steps to keep in mind while starting on writing. There are many new avenues available though. Benefit from the writing options of the 21st century from here, i loved it!

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4.2: The Writing Process for Literary Essays

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  • Heather Ringo & Athena Kashyap
  • City College of San Francisco via ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative

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Why Follow the Writing Process?

Even the most talented writers rarely get a piece right in their first draft. What's more, few writers create a first draft through a single, sustained effort. Instead, the best writers understand that writing is a process: it takes time; sustained attention; and a willingness to change, expand, and even delete words as one writes. Good writing also takes a willingness to seek feedback from peers and mentors and to accept and use the advice they give. In this book, we will refer to and model the writing process , showing how student writers like yourself worked toward compelling papers about literary works. Watch the video below where author Salman Rushdie talks about some misconceptions new writers sometimes have about what it takes to write effectively. Though he is discussing novels specifically, the same concepts apply to literary essays.

The following are a few famous writers' pieces of advice when it comes to following the writing process:

  • "For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts"—Anne Lamott
  • "The key to writing is concentration, not inspiration"—Salman Rushdie
  • "By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this." —Roald Dahl (Vander Hook)
  • "I don't write easily or rapidly. My first draft usually has only a few elements worth keeping. I have to find what those are and build from them and throw out what doesn't work, or what simply is not alive." —Susan Sontag (Lee)

Take it from the writing experts: following the writing process is the key to writing success. Following this process can be liberatory in the sense that you don't have to feel an immense pressure to write brilliantly. The best writing takes time, incremental effort, and resilience.

As I often tell my students:

"There is no such thing as bad writers, only writers who give up too soon. There is no such thing as bad writing, just writing in need of revision." This means anyone can write a strong essay if they follow the writing process!

Your process

  • How do you typically approach writing assignments in your classes? When do you start working? Do you employ any prewriting techniques?
  • Have you ever been given the chance to revise your writing after receiving feedback from your peers or your instructor? How did the act of revising change your relationship to your paper?

Good writing takes, above all, planning and organization. If you wait until the night before a written assignment is due to begin, your hurrying will supersede the necessary steps of prewriting, researching, outlining, drafting, revising, seeking feedback, and re-revising. Those stages look something like this:

The Writing Process Steps

First, read the work of literature you plan to write about. This may seem like an obvious step, but some students think they can write an effective essay by just reading the SparkNotes or Shmoop. While some students may be able to get away with writing a passing essay this way, most cannot. Besides, by completing the readings, you actually learn!

Many of the questions and activities peppered throughout sections of this book will be prewriting activities. We'll ask you to reflect on your reading, to make connections between your experiences and our text, and to jot down ideas spurred by your engagement with the theories presented here. It's from activities like these that writers often get their ideas for writing. The more engaged you are as a reader, the more engaged you'll be when the time comes to write.


This book will also help you start the research process, in which you hone in on those aspects of a given literary text that interest you and seek out a deeper understanding of those aspects. Literary researchers read not only literary texts but also the work of other literary scholars and even sources that are indirectly related to literature, such as primary historical documents and biographies. In other words, they seek a wide range of texts that can supplement their understanding of the story, poem, play, or other text they want to write about. As you research, you should keep prewriting, keeping a record of what you agree with, what you disagree with, and what you feel needs further exploration in the texts you read.

To write well, you should have a plan. As you write, that plan may change while you learn more about your topic and begin to fully understand your own ideas. However, papers are easier to tackle when you first sketch out the broad outline of your ideas, a general arc or path you want your paper to follow. Committing those ideas to paper will help you see how different ideas relate to one another (or don't relate to one another). Don't be afraid to revise your outline — play around with the sequence of your ideas and evidence until you find the most logical progression.

The most important way to improve your writing is to start writing! Because you’re treating writing as a process, it's not important that every word you type be perfectly chosen, or that every sentence be exquisitely crafted. When you're drafting, the most important thing is that you get words on paper. Follow your outline and write. If ideas come to you as you're writing, but do not quite fit in that section of the paper, make note of it! You don't have to use it, but few things are more frustrating than forgetting an idea that might work perfectly for your paper.

After you've committed words to paper (or, more accurately, to your computer screen), you can go back and shape them more deliberately through revision . Cognitive research has shown that a significant portion of reading is actually remembering. As a result, if you read your work immediately after writing it, you probably won't notice any of the potential problems with it. Your brain will "fill in the gaps" of poor grammar, misspelling, or faulty reasoning. Because of this, you should give yourself some time in between drafting and revising—the more time the better. As you revise, try to approach your text as your readers will. Ask yourself skeptical questions (e.g., Are there clear connections between the different claims I'm making in this paper? Do I provide enough evidence to convince someone to believe my claims?). Revisions can often be substantial: you may need to rearrange your points, delete significant portions of what you've written, or rewrite sentences and paragraphs to better reflect the ideas you have developed while writing. Don't be afraid to cut the parts of your paper that aren't working, even if you like a particular fact or anecdote. Don't be afraid to, as they say, "Kill your darlings." Everything in your paper should, on some level, work towards the purpose of your claim. Most importantly, you should revise your introduction several times. Writers often work into their strongest ideas, which then appear in their conclusions but not (if they do not revise) their introductions. Make sure that your introduction reflects the more nuanced claims that appear in the body and conclusion of your paper.

Seeking Feedback

Even after years of practice revising your writing, you'll never be able to see it in an entirely objective light. To really improve your writing, you need feedback from others who can identify where your ideas are not as clear as they should be. You can seek feedback in a number of ways: you can make an appointment in your college's writing center, you can participate in class peer-review workshops, or you can talk to your instructor during his or her office hours. If you will have a chance to revise your paper after your instructor grades it, his or her comments on that graded draft should be considered essential feedback as you revise.


Once you've garnered feedback on your writing, you should use that feedback to revise your paper yet again. You should not, however, simply make every change that your colleagues or instructor recommended. You should think about the suggestions they've made and ensure that their suggestions will help you make the argument you want to make. You may decide to incorporate some suggestions and not others. Not all feedback is helpful or applicable. It takes some critical thinking to determine whether the feedback will improve the essay. When you treat writing as a process, it should become a genuine dialogue between you and your readers.

Finally, you will submit your paper to an audience for review. As college students, this primarily means the paper you turn in to your instructor for evaluation.

Writing Process Not Linear, But a Cycle

The preceding categories suggest that writing is a linear process — that is, that you will follow these steps in the following order:


The reality of the writing process, however, is that as you write you shuttle back and forth in these stages. For example, as you begin writing your thesis paragraph, the beginning of your essay, you will write and revise many times before you are satisfied with your opening; once you have a complete draft, you will more than likely return to the introduction to revise it again to better match the contents of the completed essay. This shuttling highlights the recursive nature of the writing process and can be diagrammed as follows:


This is a good thing. If you are too rigid in your process, it's easier to get stuck on insisting an idea or claim that might not be working, rather than discovering one or coming to an informed, well-reasoned conclusion. Furthermore, you should be aware that each writer has a unique writing process: some will be diligent outliners, while others may discover ideas as they write. There is no right way to write (so to speak), but the key is the notion of process — all strong writers engage in the writing process and recognize the importance of feedback and revision in the process.

  • Describe your current writing process.
  • Do you normally engage in the stages listed previously?
  • If not, why? If so, what part of the process do you find most helpful?

Share your process with the class to discover the variety of approaches writers take. Always be willing to try new methods of approaching the writing process. You might find a new tool or habit that works well for you!

Works Cited

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life . Random House, 1994.

Lee, Martin. Telling Stories: The Craft of Narrative and Writing Life . University of Nebraska Press, 2012.

Rushdie, Salman. "Inspiration is Nonsense." The Big Think, 2011.

Vander Hook, Sue. Writing Notable Narrative Nonfiction . Lerner Publishing Group, 2016.

Contributors and Attributions

  • Adapted from "What is the Writing Process?" from Creating Literary Analysis by Ryan Cordell and John Pennington, CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0

how to write a literary essay video

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay: An Insightful Guide

how to write a literary essay video

Welcome to the fascinating world of writing a literary analysis essay – where words come alive, stories unravel, and your insights take center stage. Have you ever wondered how to decode the deeper meanings of your favorite books or express your thoughts in a way that captivates your reader? Well, you're in the right place. In this article, we're diving headfirst into essays writing, breaking down the complexities, and showing you how to craft an essay that not only impresses your teacher but also makes you appreciate literature in a whole new light.

What Is Literary Analysis Essay

According to a literary analysis essay definition, it is a written examination and interpretation of a literary work, typically dissecting its elements such as plot, characters, themes, and symbolism. Going beyond summarization, this type of essay delves into the intricacies of a text, aiming to uncover deeper meanings, explore the author's intentions, and critically evaluate the literary techniques employed. It requires the writer to engage in thoughtful analysis, supported by evidence from the text, to unveil the layers of significance within the work. Through this process, the essay not only offers a nuanced understanding of the literature but also encourages readers to appreciate the artistry and complexity inherent in written narratives. Those students who are not ready to work on such an assignment can simply say, ‘ write my papers ,’ and our experts will handle the task shortly. 

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What Is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay

The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to delve deeply into a literary work, examining its various elements and uncovering layers of meaning beyond the surface narrative. Through critical analysis and interpretation, this type of essay aims to illuminate the themes, characters, settings, and literary devices employed by the author, offering insights into their intentions and the broader significance of the text. By dissecting the nuances of the work, a literary analysis encourages readers to engage with literature on a deeper level, fostering a richer understanding of the human experience, societal issues, and the complexities of language and storytelling. Ultimately, the essay serves as a platform for readers to explore and appreciate the artistry and impact of literature while honing their analytical and critical thinking skills. When you have time, study our guide regarding how to write an analytical essay , which will shed light on more important academic writing aspects.

literary analysis vs summary

Literary Analysis Outline

Here's a basic outline for this type of essay:


  • Hook: Engage the reader with a compelling quote, question, or anecdote related to the literary work.
  • Background Information: Provide relevant information about the author, the title, and the context of the work.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state the main point or argument of your analysis.

Body Paragraph 1: Analysis of the Plot

  • Provide a brief summary of the plot.
  • Analyze key events, plot twists, and their significance.
  • Discuss the structure of the narrative and how it contributes to the overall theme.

Body Paragraph 2: Character Analysis

  • Introduce and describe the main characters.
  • Analyze their traits, motivations, and relationships.
  • Discuss how the characters contribute to the development of the story.

Body Paragraph 3: Theme Exploration

  • Identify and discuss the major themes in the literary work.
  • Provide examples and evidence from the text to support your analysis.
  • Explore the deeper meanings and messages conveyed through the themes.

Body Paragraph 4: Literary Devices and Techniques

  • Identify and analyze literary devices such as symbolism, imagery, metaphors, and foreshadowing.
  • Discuss how these elements enhance the overall impact of the work.
  • Summarize the main points discussed in the body paragraphs.
  • Restate the thesis in a fresh way.
  • Offer final insights or reflections on the literary work's significance and enduring relevance.

Optional: Additional Considerations

  • Discuss the cultural or historical context that may influence the interpretation of the work.
  • Address any alternative perspectives or counterarguments.
  • Offer recommendations for further reading or exploration related to the literary work.

We recommend analyzing this article about how to start a reflection paper to gain extra competence in the domain of school and college writing.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Before you commence the assignment, it’s important to find a great topic. For your inspiration, our writers shared 20 literary analysis essay ideas that you can develop in a written form within the framework of your current task.

  • Symbolism in "The Great Gatsby."
  • Character development in "Hamlet."
  • Themes in "To Kill a Mockingbird."
  • The significance of the southern setting in "The Sound and the Fury."
  • Foreshadowing in "Of Mice and Men."
  • Point of view in "The Catcher in the Rye."
  • Irony in "Othello."
  • Social class in "Pride and Prejudice."
  • The motif of light and dark in "Romeo and Juliet."
  • Archetypes in "The Hero’s Journey" in "The Hobbit."
  • The tragic flaw of Macbeth in "Macbeth."
  • The use of nature imagery in "Wuthering Heights."
  • The symbolism of the green light in "The Great Gatsby."
  • The role of technology in "Fahrenheit 451."
  • Character motivations in "The Scarlet Letter."
  • The exploration of identity in "The Invisible Man."
  • The impact of war on characters in "All Quiet on the Western Front."
  • The role of dreams in "A Raisin in the Sun."
  • The representation of women in "Jane Eyre."
  • The symbolism of the mockingbird in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Step by Step

In this section, we're ditching the jargon and breaking down the process into simple, actionable steps. Whether you're a wordsmith in the making or someone feeling a bit lost in the world of dissecting literature, we've got your back. Think of this as your roadmap, helping you navigate through characters, themes, and all the juicy stuff that makes a story tick. So, grab your metaphorical magnifying glass and let's dive into the art of making sense of written words without the unnecessary fuss!

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Step by Step

Step 1: Choose Your Text and Topic

Before actually writing a literary analysis essay, select a literary work that piques your interest or aligns with your academic requirements. Whether it's a novel, play, or poem, opt for a piece that offers rich content for analysis. Once you've chosen your text, narrow down a specific topic or theme within it that you find compelling. This initial step sets the stage for a focused and meaningful exploration. Use our analytical essay writing service to gain the upper hand when tackling this assignment.

Step 2: Create a Strong Thesis Statement

Write a clear and concise literary analysis essay introduction with a thesis statement that outlines the main argument or interpretation you'll be presenting in your essay. This statement should encapsulate your perspective on the chosen topic, providing a roadmap for both you and your readers. A well-defined thesis serves as the backbone of your literary analysis, guiding your analysis and ensuring a cohesive and purposeful essay. In this guide on how to write an essay introduction , you will find more information on this matter.

Step 3: Conduct Textual Analysis

Delve into the chosen literary work and conduct a thorough textual analysis. Pay attention to key elements such as characters, plot, setting, and literary devices employed by the author. Extract relevant quotes and passages that support your thesis, and consider how each element contributes to the overall meaning of the work. By the way, are you working on your capstone or dissertation at the moment? If yes, see our thesis writing service , which is especially helpful for students dealing with long-format scholarly documents.

Step 4: Set the Stage with Context

Establish the context of your literary analysis essay by providing relevant background information on the chosen work. Briefly introduce the author, the time period, and any significant historical or cultural factors that may impact the interpretation of the text. Creating this contextual framework helps orient your readers and prepares them for the nuanced exploration that follows. By offering a snapshot of the broader landscape in which the literary work exists, you set the stage for a more informed and insightful analysis.

Step 5: Construct Analytical Body Paragraphs

Organize your analysis into well-structured body paragraphs. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of your thesis, supported by evidence from the text. Analyze characters, themes, and literary devices individually, connecting each point back to your overarching argument. Use clear and concise language to convey your insights and interpretations effectively.

Step 6: Craft a Thoughtful Conclusion

Summarize your main points, restate your thesis in a new light, and offer final insights in a thoughtful conclusion. Avoid introducing new information in this section but rather emphasize the significance of your analysis and its broader implications. A well-written conclusion leaves a lasting impression and reinforces the value of your literary interpretation. At this point, you have everything you need to become a student who knows how to write a literary analysis essay from A to Z.

Literary Analysis Essay Do’s and Don’ts

  • Develop a clear thesis statement.
  • Use evidence from the text to support your analysis.
  • Organize your essay logically with coherent paragraphs.
  • Focus on specific elements like characters, themes, and literary devices.
  • Engage with the text critically, questioning and probing meanings.
  • Don't summarize the plot extensively; focus on analysis.
  • Avoid vague or generic statements without supporting evidence.
  • Don't introduce new ideas in the conclusion. Stick to summarizing.
  • Avoid excessive quoting; provide brief, relevant excerpts.
  • Don't rush; take the time to revise and edit for clarity.

Our college essay service can help you put the finger on any time-consuming or mind-boggling written assignment right now, so use it if you’re in writer’s block or desperately trying to fit into a schedule.

Literary Analysis Essay Writing Tips

Get ready to up your academic writing game! This section is packed with straightforward tips to help you sharpen your skills. Whether you're a senior year student or just a freshman, we've got you covered. From digging into themes to writing insightful interpretations, our tips are here to make your literary analyses shine. Let's dive in and boost your writing skills!

Maintain Consistent Tone and Style

  • Keep a consistent tone throughout your essay, aligning with the formality or informality required. Ensure that your writing style complements the nature of your analysis, creating a cohesive and engaging reading experience for your audience.

Focus on Analysis, Not Summary

  • Avoid lengthy plot summaries. Instead, delve into the 'why' and 'how' aspects of the text – analyzing characters, themes, and literary devices to uncover deeper meanings.

Provide Textual Evidence

  • Support your analysis with concrete examples from the text. This strengthens your argument and demonstrates a close engagement with the literary work.

Organize Coherently

  • Structure your essay logically with well-organized paragraphs. Each paragraph should explore a specific aspect of your analysis, contributing to the overall understanding of your thesis.

Critical Engagement

  • Approach the text with a critical mindset. Question the author's choices, explore alternative interpretations, and analyze the implications of various literary elements.

Concise and Clear Language

  • Express your ideas using clear and concise language. Avoid unnecessary jargon, and ensure that your analysis is easily understandable by a broader audience.

Revise and Edit

  • Take the time to revise your essay for clarity and coherence. Check for grammar and spelling errors, and ensure that each paragraph contributes meaningfully to your overall analysis.

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Literary Analysis Essay Example

Students might find a literary analysis essay example invaluable for several reasons. Firstly, it provides a practical demonstration of the theoretical concepts they learn in class, offering a tangible model of how to analyze and interpret literary elements effectively. Additionally, examples serve as templates, offering insights into the proper structure and organization of an essay. They help students grasp the application of critical thinking skills, showcasing how to dissect a text, identify themes, and support arguments with textual evidence.

Example 1: The Symbolism of Light and Darkness in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"

This literary analysis of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" explores the pervasive symbolism of light and darkness throughout the novel. Examining the journey of the protagonist, Marlow, and the character of Kurtz, the essay delves into the metaphorical implications of light and darkness as they represent moral ambiguity, the corrupting influence of power, and the ironic consequences of European imperialism.

Example 2: The Complex Portrait of Identity in Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake"

This literary analysis of Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake" explores the intricate layers of identity depicted in the novel, focusing on the protagonist Gogol Ganguli's navigation through the complexities of cultural assimilation and the immigrant experience. The essay delves into the symbolic significance of Gogol's name as a representation of the clash between his Bengali heritage and the American environment, examining the tension between tradition and modernity. 

Final Thought

To sum it up, getting the hang of how to write a literary analysis essay is an experience that benefits both new and experienced writers. Throughout this guide, we've tried to simplify the process, offering practical insights and tips. Analyzing literature isn't just an academic exercise – it's a way to dive deeper into the richness of written expression. Now armed with these tools, you're not only prepared to analyze literature effectively but also to bring your unique perspectives to the ongoing discussion about the stories we encounter. Happy writing!

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is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

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How to Write an Essay

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Essay Writing Fundamentals

How to prepare to write an essay, how to edit an essay, how to share and publish your essays, how to get essay writing help, how to find essay writing inspiration, resources for teaching essay writing.

Essays, short prose compositions on a particular theme or topic, are the bread and butter of academic life. You write them in class, for homework, and on standardized tests to show what you know. Unlike other kinds of academic writing (like the research paper) and creative writing (like short stories and poems), essays allow you to develop your original thoughts on a prompt or question. Essays come in many varieties: they can be expository (fleshing out an idea or claim), descriptive, (explaining a person, place, or thing), narrative (relating a personal experience), or persuasive (attempting to win over a reader). This guide is a collection of dozens of links about academic essay writing that we have researched, categorized, and annotated in order to help you improve your essay writing. 

Essays are different from other forms of writing; in turn, there are different kinds of essays. This section contains general resources for getting to know the essay and its variants. These resources introduce and define the essay as a genre, and will teach you what to expect from essay-based assessments.

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab

One of the most trusted academic writing sites, Purdue OWL provides a concise introduction to the four most common types of academic essays.

"The Essay: History and Definition" (ThoughtCo)

This snappy article from ThoughtCo talks about the origins of the essay and different kinds of essays you might be asked to write. 

"What Is An Essay?" Video Lecture (Coursera)

The University of California at Irvine's free video lecture, available on Coursera, tells  you everything you need to know about the essay.

Wikipedia Article on the "Essay"

Wikipedia's article on the essay is comprehensive, providing both English-language and global perspectives on the essay form. Learn about the essay's history, forms, and styles.

"Understanding College and Academic Writing" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This list of common academic writing assignments (including types of essay prompts) will help you know what to expect from essay-based assessments.

Before you start writing your essay, you need to figure out who you're writing for (audience), what you're writing about (topic/theme), and what you're going to say (argument and thesis). This section contains links to handouts, chapters, videos and more to help you prepare to write an essay.

How to Identify Your Audience

"Audience" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This handout provides questions you can ask yourself to determine the audience for an academic writing assignment. It also suggests strategies for fitting your paper to your intended audience.

"Purpose, Audience, Tone, and Content" (Univ. of Minnesota Libraries)

This extensive book chapter from Writing for Success , available online through Minnesota Libraries Publishing, is followed by exercises to try out your new pre-writing skills.

"Determining Audience" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This guide from a community college's writing center shows you how to know your audience, and how to incorporate that knowledge in your thesis statement.

"Know Your Audience" ( Paper Rater Blog)

This short blog post uses examples to show how implied audiences for essays differ. It reminds you to think of your instructor as an observer, who will know only the information you pass along.

How to Choose a Theme or Topic

"Research Tutorial: Developing Your Topic" (YouTube)

Take a look at this short video tutorial from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to understand the basics of developing a writing topic.

"How to Choose a Paper Topic" (WikiHow)

This simple, step-by-step guide (with pictures!) walks you through choosing a paper topic. It starts with a detailed description of brainstorming and ends with strategies to refine your broad topic.

"How to Read an Assignment: Moving From Assignment to Topic" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Did your teacher give you a prompt or other instructions? This guide helps you understand the relationship between an essay assignment and your essay's topic.

"Guidelines for Choosing a Topic" (CliffsNotes)

This study guide from CliffsNotes both discusses how to choose a topic and makes a useful distinction between "topic" and "thesis."

How to Come Up with an Argument

"Argument" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

Not sure what "argument" means in the context of academic writing? This page from the University of North Carolina is a good place to start.

"The Essay Guide: Finding an Argument" (Study Hub)

This handout explains why it's important to have an argument when beginning your essay, and provides tools to help you choose a viable argument.

"Writing a Thesis and Making an Argument" (University of Iowa)

This page from the University of Iowa's Writing Center contains exercises through which you can develop and refine your argument and thesis statement.

"Developing a Thesis" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This page from Harvard's Writing Center collates some helpful dos and don'ts of argumentative writing, from steps in constructing a thesis to avoiding vague and confrontational thesis statements.

"Suggestions for Developing Argumentative Essays" (Berkeley Student Learning Center)

This page offers concrete suggestions for each stage of the essay writing process, from topic selection to drafting and editing. 

How to Outline your Essay

"Outlines" (Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill via YouTube)

This short video tutorial from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows how to group your ideas into paragraphs or sections to begin the outlining process.

"Essay Outline" (Univ. of Washington Tacoma)

This two-page handout by a university professor simply defines the parts of an essay and then organizes them into an example outline.

"Types of Outlines and Samples" (Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab)

Purdue OWL gives examples of diverse outline strategies on this page, including the alphanumeric, full sentence, and decimal styles. 

"Outlining" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Once you have an argument, according to this handout, there are only three steps in the outline process: generalizing, ordering, and putting it all together. Then you're ready to write!

"Writing Essays" (Plymouth Univ.)

This packet, part of Plymouth University's Learning Development series, contains descriptions and diagrams relating to the outlining process.

"How to Write A Good Argumentative Essay: Logical Structure" ( via YouTube)

This longer video tutorial gives an overview of how to structure your essay in order to support your argument or thesis. It is part of a longer course on academic writing hosted on Udemy.

Now that you've chosen and refined your topic and created an outline, use these resources to complete the writing process. Most essays contain introductions (which articulate your thesis statement), body paragraphs, and conclusions. Transitions facilitate the flow from one paragraph to the next so that support for your thesis builds throughout the essay. Sources and citations show where you got the evidence to support your thesis, which ensures that you avoid plagiarism. 

How to Write an Introduction

"Introductions" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page identifies the role of the introduction in any successful paper, suggests strategies for writing introductions, and warns against less effective introductions.

"How to Write A Good Introduction" (Michigan State Writing Center)

Beginning with the most common missteps in writing introductions, this guide condenses the essentials of introduction composition into seven points.

"The Introductory Paragraph" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post from academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming focuses on ways to grab your reader's attention at the beginning of your essay.

"Introductions and Conclusions" (Univ. of Toronto)

This guide from the University of Toronto gives advice that applies to writing both introductions and conclusions, including dos and don'ts.

"How to Write Better Essays: No One Does Introductions Properly" ( The Guardian )

This news article interviews UK professors on student essay writing; they point to introductions as the area that needs the most improvement.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

"Writing an Effective Thesis Statement" (YouTube)

This short, simple video tutorial from a college composition instructor at Tulsa Community College explains what a thesis statement is and what it does. 

"Thesis Statement: Four Steps to a Great Essay" (YouTube)

This fantastic tutorial walks you through drafting a thesis, using an essay prompt on Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter as an example.

"How to Write a Thesis Statement" (WikiHow)

This step-by-step guide (with pictures!) walks you through coming up with, writing, and editing a thesis statement. It invites you think of your statement as a "working thesis" that can change.

"How to Write a Thesis Statement" (Univ. of Indiana Bloomington)

Ask yourself the questions on this page, part of Indiana Bloomington's Writing Tutorial Services, when you're writing and refining your thesis statement.

"Writing Tips: Thesis Statements" (Univ. of Illinois Center for Writing Studies)

This page gives plentiful examples of good to great thesis statements, and offers questions to ask yourself when formulating a thesis statement.

How to Write Body Paragraphs

"Body Paragraph" (Brightstorm)

This module of a free online course introduces you to the components of a body paragraph. These include the topic sentence, information, evidence, and analysis.

"Strong Body Paragraphs" (Washington Univ.)

This handout from Washington's Writing and Research Center offers in-depth descriptions of the parts of a successful body paragraph.

"Guide to Paragraph Structure" (Deakin Univ.)

This handout is notable for color-coding example body paragraphs to help you identify the functions various sentences perform.

"Writing Body Paragraphs" (Univ. of Minnesota Libraries)

The exercises in this section of Writing for Success  will help you practice writing good body paragraphs. It includes guidance on selecting primary support for your thesis.

"The Writing Process—Body Paragraphs" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

The information and exercises on this page will familiarize you with outlining and writing body paragraphs, and includes links to more information on topic sentences and transitions.

"The Five-Paragraph Essay" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post discusses body paragraphs in the context of one of the most common academic essay types in secondary schools.

How to Use Transitions

"Transitions" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains what a transition is, and how to know if you need to improve your transitions.

"Using Transitions Effectively" (Washington Univ.)

This handout defines transitions, offers tips for using them, and contains a useful list of common transitional words and phrases grouped by function.

"Transitions" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This page compares paragraphs without transitions to paragraphs with transitions, and in doing so shows how important these connective words and phrases are.

"Transitions in Academic Essays" (Scribbr)

This page lists four techniques that will help you make sure your reader follows your train of thought, including grouping similar information and using transition words.

"Transitions" (El Paso Community College)

This handout shows example transitions within paragraphs for context, and explains how transitions improve your essay's flow and voice.

"Make Your Paragraphs Flow to Improve Writing" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post, another from academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming, talks about transitions and other strategies to improve your essay's overall flow.

"Transition Words" (

This handy word bank will help you find transition words when you're feeling stuck. It's grouped by the transition's function, whether that is to show agreement, opposition, condition, or consequence.

How to Write a Conclusion

"Parts of An Essay: Conclusions" (Brightstorm)

This module of a free online course explains how to conclude an academic essay. It suggests thinking about the "3Rs": return to hook, restate your thesis, and relate to the reader.

"Essay Conclusions" (Univ. of Maryland University College)

This overview of the academic essay conclusion contains helpful examples and links to further resources for writing good conclusions.

"How to End An Essay" (WikiHow)

This step-by-step guide (with pictures!) by an English Ph.D. walks you through writing a conclusion, from brainstorming to ending with a flourish.

"Ending the Essay: Conclusions" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This page collates useful strategies for writing an effective conclusion, and reminds you to "close the discussion without closing it off" to further conversation.

How to Include Sources and Citations

"Research and Citation Resources" (Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab)

Purdue OWL streamlines information about the three most common referencing styles (MLA, Chicago, and APA) and provides examples of how to cite different resources in each system.

EasyBib: Free Bibliography Generator

This online tool allows you to input information about your source and automatically generate citations in any style. Be sure to select your resource type before clicking the "cite it" button.


Like EasyBib, this online tool allows you to input information about your source and automatically generate citations in any style. 

Modern Language Association Handbook (MLA)

Here, you'll find the definitive and up-to-date record of MLA referencing rules. Order through the link above, or check to see if your library has a copy.

Chicago Manual of Style

Here, you'll find the definitive and up-to-date record of Chicago referencing rules. You can take a look at the table of contents, then choose to subscribe or start a free trial.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

"What is Plagiarism?" (

This nonprofit website contains numerous resources for identifying and avoiding plagiarism, and reminds you that even common activities like copying images from another website to your own site may constitute plagiarism.

"Plagiarism" (University of Oxford)

This interactive page from the University of Oxford helps you check for plagiarism in your work, making it clear how to avoid citing another person's work without full acknowledgement.

"Avoiding Plagiarism" (MIT Comparative Media Studies)

This quick guide explains what plagiarism is, what its consequences are, and how to avoid it. It starts by defining three words—quotation, paraphrase, and summary—that all constitute citation.

"Harvard Guide to Using Sources" (Harvard Extension School)

This comprehensive website from Harvard brings together articles, videos, and handouts about referencing, citation, and plagiarism. 

Grammarly contains tons of helpful grammar and writing resources, including a free tool to automatically scan your essay to check for close affinities to published work. 

Noplag is another popular online tool that automatically scans your essay to check for signs of plagiarism. Simply copy and paste your essay into the box and click "start checking."

Once you've written your essay, you'll want to edit (improve content), proofread (check for spelling and grammar mistakes), and finalize your work until you're ready to hand it in. This section brings together tips and resources for navigating the editing process. 

"Writing a First Draft" (Academic Help)

This is an introduction to the drafting process from the site Academic Help, with tips for getting your ideas on paper before editing begins.

"Editing and Proofreading" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page provides general strategies for revising your writing. They've intentionally left seven errors in the handout, to give you practice in spotting them.

"How to Proofread Effectively" (ThoughtCo)

This article from ThoughtCo, along with those linked at the bottom, help describe common mistakes to check for when proofreading.

"7 Simple Edits That Make Your Writing 100% More Powerful" (SmartBlogger)

This blog post emphasizes the importance of powerful, concise language, and reminds you that even your personal writing heroes create clunky first drafts.

"Editing Tips for Effective Writing" (Univ. of Pennsylvania)

On this page from Penn's International Relations department, you'll find tips for effective prose, errors to watch out for, and reminders about formatting.

"Editing the Essay" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This article, the first of two parts, gives you applicable strategies for the editing process. It suggests reading your essay aloud, removing any jargon, and being unafraid to remove even "dazzling" sentences that don't belong.

"Guide to Editing and Proofreading" (Oxford Learning Institute)

This handout from Oxford covers the basics of editing and proofreading, and reminds you that neither task should be rushed. 

In addition to plagiarism-checkers, Grammarly has a plug-in for your web browser that checks your writing for common mistakes.

After you've prepared, written, and edited your essay, you might want to share it outside the classroom. This section alerts you to print and web opportunities to share your essays with the wider world, from online writing communities and blogs to published journals geared toward young writers.

Sharing Your Essays Online

Go Teen Writers

Go Teen Writers is an online community for writers aged 13 - 19. It was founded by Stephanie Morrill, an author of contemporary young adult novels. 

Tumblr is a blogging website where you can share your writing and interact with other writers online. It's easy to add photos, links, audio, and video components.

Writersky provides an online platform for publishing and reading other youth writers' work. Its current content is mostly devoted to fiction.

Publishing Your Essays Online

This teen literary journal publishes in print, on the web, and (more frequently), on a blog. It is committed to ensuring that "teens see their authentic experience reflected on its pages."

The Matador Review

This youth writing platform celebrates "alternative," unconventional writing. The link above will take you directly to the site's "submissions" page.

Teen Ink has a website, monthly newsprint magazine, and quarterly poetry magazine promoting the work of young writers.

The largest online reading platform, Wattpad enables you to publish your work and read others' work. Its inline commenting feature allows you to share thoughts as you read along.

Publishing Your Essays in Print

Canvas Teen Literary Journal

This quarterly literary magazine is published for young writers by young writers. They accept many kinds of writing, including essays.

The Claremont Review

This biannual international magazine, first published in 1992, publishes poetry, essays, and short stories from writers aged 13 - 19.

Skipping Stones

This young writers magazine, founded in 1988, celebrates themes relating to ecological and cultural diversity. It publishes poems, photos, articles, and stories.

The Telling Room

This nonprofit writing center based in Maine publishes children's work on their website and in book form. The link above directs you to the site's submissions page.

Essay Contests

Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards

This prestigious international writing contest for students in grades 7 - 12 has been committed to "supporting the future of creativity since 1923."

Society of Professional Journalists High School Essay Contest

An annual essay contest on the theme of journalism and media, the Society of Professional Journalists High School Essay Contest awards scholarships up to $1,000.

National YoungArts Foundation

Here, you'll find information on a government-sponsored writing competition for writers aged 15 - 18. The foundation welcomes submissions of creative nonfiction, novels, scripts, poetry, short story and spoken word.

Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest

With prompts on a different literary work each year, this competition from Signet Classics awards college scholarships up to $1,000.

"The Ultimate Guide to High School Essay Contests" (CollegeVine)

See this handy guide from CollegeVine for a list of more competitions you can enter with your academic essay, from the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Awards to the National High School Essay Contest by the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Whether you're struggling to write academic essays or you think you're a pro, there are workshops and online tools that can help you become an even better writer. Even the most seasoned writers encounter writer's block, so be proactive and look through our curated list of resources to combat this common frustration.

Online Essay-writing Classes and Workshops

"Getting Started with Essay Writing" (Coursera)

Coursera offers lots of free, high-quality online classes taught by college professors. Here's one example, taught by instructors from the University of California Irvine.

"Writing and English" (Brightstorm)

Brightstorm's free video lectures are easy to navigate by topic. This unit on the parts of an essay features content on the essay hook, thesis, supporting evidence, and more.

"How to Write an Essay" (EdX)

EdX is another open online university course website with several two- to five-week courses on the essay. This one is geared toward English language learners.

Writer's Digest University

This renowned writers' website offers online workshops and interactive tutorials. The courses offered cover everything from how to get started through how to get published.

Signing up for this online writer's community gives you access to helpful resources as well as an international community of writers.

How to Overcome Writer's Block

"Symptoms and Cures for Writer's Block" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue OWL offers a list of signs you might have writer's block, along with ways to overcome it. Consider trying out some "invention strategies" or ways to curb writing anxiety.

"Overcoming Writer's Block: Three Tips" ( The Guardian )

These tips, geared toward academic writing specifically, are practical and effective. The authors advocate setting realistic goals, creating dedicated writing time, and participating in social writing.

"Writing Tips: Strategies for Overcoming Writer's Block" (Univ. of Illinois)

This page from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Center for Writing Studies acquaints you with strategies that do and do not work to overcome writer's block.

"Writer's Block" (Univ. of Toronto)

Ask yourself the questions on this page; if the answer is "yes," try out some of the article's strategies. Each question is accompanied by at least two possible solutions.

If you have essays to write but are short on ideas, this section's links to prompts, example student essays, and celebrated essays by professional writers might help. You'll find writing prompts from a variety of sources, student essays to inspire you, and a number of essay writing collections.

Essay Writing Prompts

"50 Argumentative Essay Topics" (ThoughtCo)

Take a look at this list and the others ThoughtCo has curated for different kinds of essays. As the author notes, "a number of these topics are controversial and that's the point."

"401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing" ( New York Times )

This list (and the linked lists to persuasive and narrative writing prompts), besides being impressive in length, is put together by actual high school English teachers.

"SAT Sample Essay Prompts" (College Board)

If you're a student in the U.S., your classroom essay prompts are likely modeled on the prompts in U.S. college entrance exams. Take a look at these official examples from the SAT.

"Popular College Application Essay Topics" (Princeton Review)

This page from the Princeton Review dissects recent Common Application essay topics and discusses strategies for answering them.

Example Student Essays

"501 Writing Prompts" (DePaul Univ.)

This nearly 200-page packet, compiled by the LearningExpress Skill Builder in Focus Writing Team, is stuffed with writing prompts, example essays, and commentary.

"Topics in English" (Kibin)

Kibin is a for-pay essay help website, but its example essays (organized by topic) are available for free. You'll find essays on everything from  A Christmas Carol  to perseverance.

"Student Writing Models" (Thoughtful Learning)

Thoughtful Learning, a website that offers a variety of teaching materials, provides sample student essays on various topics and organizes them by grade level.

"Five-Paragraph Essay" (ThoughtCo)

In this blog post by a former professor of English and rhetoric, ThoughtCo brings together examples of five-paragraph essays and commentary on the form.

The Best Essay Writing Collections

The Best American Essays of the Century by Joyce Carol Oates (Amazon)

This collection of American essays spanning the twentieth century was compiled by award winning author and Princeton professor Joyce Carol Oates.

The Best American Essays 2017 by Leslie Jamison (Amazon)

Leslie Jamison, the celebrated author of essay collection  The Empathy Exams , collects recent, high-profile essays into a single volume.

The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate (Amazon)

Documentary writer Phillip Lopate curates this historical overview of the personal essay's development, from the classical era to the present.

The White Album by Joan Didion (Amazon)

This seminal essay collection was authored by one of the most acclaimed personal essayists of all time, American journalist Joan Didion.

Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace (Amazon)

Read this famous essay collection by David Foster Wallace, who is known for his experimentation with the essay form. He pushed the boundaries of personal essay, reportage, and political polemic.

"50 Successful Harvard Application Essays" (Staff of the The Harvard Crimson )

If you're looking for examples of exceptional college application essays, this volume from Harvard's daily student newspaper is one of the best collections on the market.

Are you an instructor looking for the best resources for teaching essay writing? This section contains resources for developing in-class activities and student homework assignments. You'll find content from both well-known university writing centers and online writing labs.

Essay Writing Classroom Activities for Students

"In-class Writing Exercises" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page lists exercises related to brainstorming, organizing, drafting, and revising. It also contains suggestions for how to implement the suggested exercises.

"Teaching with Writing" (Univ. of Minnesota Center for Writing)

Instructions and encouragement for using "freewriting," one-minute papers, logbooks, and other write-to-learn activities in the classroom can be found here.

"Writing Worksheets" (Berkeley Student Learning Center)

Berkeley offers this bank of writing worksheets to use in class. They are nested under headings for "Prewriting," "Revision," "Research Papers" and more.

"Using Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism" (DePaul University)

Use these activities and worksheets from DePaul's Teaching Commons when instructing students on proper academic citation practices.

Essay Writing Homework Activities for Students

"Grammar and Punctuation Exercises" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

These five interactive online activities allow students to practice editing and proofreading. They'll hone their skills in correcting comma splices and run-ons, identifying fragments, using correct pronoun agreement, and comma usage.

"Student Interactives" (Read Write Think)

Read Write Think hosts interactive tools, games, and videos for developing writing skills. They can practice organizing and summarizing, writing poetry, and developing lines of inquiry and analysis.

This free website offers writing and grammar activities for all grade levels. The lessons are designed to be used both for large classes and smaller groups.

"Writing Activities and Lessons for Every Grade" (Education World)

Education World's page on writing activities and lessons links you to more free, online resources for learning how to "W.R.I.T.E.": write, revise, inform, think, and edit.

  • PDFs for all 136 Lit Terms we cover
  • Downloads of 1927 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • Explanations and citation info for 40,619 quotes across 1927 books
  • Downloadable (PDF) line-by-line translations of every Shakespeare play

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Literary Analysis Essay

Cathy A.

Literary Analysis Essay - Step by Step Guide

15 min read

Published on: Aug 16, 2020

Last updated on: Jan 29, 2024

Literary Analysis Essay

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Literature is an art that can inspire, challenge, and transform us. But how do we analyze literature in a way that truly captures its essence? 

That's where a literary analysis essay comes in. 

Writing a literary analysis essay allows you to delve into the themes, characters, and symbols of a literary work. It's a chance to engage with literature on a deeper level and to discover new insights. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the process of writing a literary analysis essay, step by step. Plus, you’ll get to read some great examples to help you out!

So let’s dive in!

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What is a Literary Analysis Essay?

Literary analysis is a process of examining a literary work in detail to uncover its meaning and significance. 

It involves breaking down the various elements of a work, such as plot, character, setting, and theme. And then analyzing how they work together to create a specific effect on the reader.

In other words, literary analysis is an exercise in interpretation. The reader of a work asks questions about what the author means to say, how they are saying it, and why. 

A literary analysis essay is an essay where you explore such questions in depth and offer your own insights.

What is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay?

In general, the purpose of a literary analysis essay is as follows: 

  • To gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the work.
  • To be able to think critically and analytically about a text. 

Content of a Literary Analysis 

A literary analysis essay delves deep into the various aspects of a literary work to examine its meaning, symbolism, themes, and more. Here are the key elements to include in your literary analysis essay:

Plot Analysis 

Plot refers to the sequence of events that make up the storyline of a literary work. It encompasses the main events, conflicts, and resolutions that drive the narrative forward. 

Elements of Plot Analysis 

The elements of a plot typically include:

  • Exposition: The introduction of the story that establishes the setting, characters, and initial circumstances.
  • Rising action: A set of events or actions that sets the main conflict into motion, often occurring early in the story.
  • Conflict: The series of events that build tension and develop the conflict, leading to the story's climax.
  • Climax: The turning point of the story, where the conflict reaches its peak and the outcome hangs in the balance.
  • Falling Action: The events that occur after the climax, leading towards the resolution of the conflict.
  • Resolution: The point in the story where the conflict is resolved, providing closure to the narrative.

Character Analysis 

Character analysis involves studying the role, development, and motivations of the characters in a literary work. It explores how characters contribute to the overall narrative and themes of the story.

Elements of Character Analysis 

  • Identification of major and minor characters.
  • Examination of their traits, behaviors, and relationships.
  • Analysis of character development and changes throughout the story.
  • Evaluation of the character's role in advancing the plot or conveying themes.

Symbolism and Imagery Analysis 

Symbolism and imagery analysis focuses on the use of symbols, objects, or images in a work. It analyzes and explores the use of literary devices to convey deeper meanings and evoke emotions. 

Elements of Symbolism and Imagery Analysis 

  • Identification of key symbols or recurring motifs.
  • Interpretation of their symbolic significance.
  • Analysis of how imagery is used to create vivid mental pictures and enhance the reader's understanding and emotional experience.

Theme Analysis 

Analyzing the theme involves exploring the central ideas or messages conveyed in a literary work. It examines the underlying concepts, or messages that the author wants to convey through the story.

Elements of Theme Analysis 

  • Identification of the main themes or central ideas explored in the text.
  • Analysis of how the themes are developed and reinforced throughout the story.
  • Exploration of the author's perspective and the intended message behind the themes.

Setting Analysis 

The Setting of a story includes the time, place, and social context in which the story takes place. Analyzing the setting involves how the setting influences the characters, plot, and overall atmosphere of the work.

Elements of Setting Analysis 

  • Description and analysis of the physical, cultural, and historical aspects of the setting.
  • Examination of how the setting contributes to the mood, atmosphere, and themes of the work.
  • Evaluation of how the setting shapes the characters' actions and motivations.

Structure and Style Analysis 

Structure and style analysis involves studying the organization, narrative techniques, and literary devices employed by the author. It explores how the structure and style contribute to the overall impact and effectiveness of the work.

Elements of Structure and Style Analysis 

  • Analysis of the narrative structure, such as the use of flashbacks, nonlinear timelines, or multiple perspectives.
  • Examination of the author's writing style, including the use of language, tone, and figurative language.
  • Evaluation of literary devices, such as foreshadowing, irony, or allusion, and their impact on the reader's interpretation.

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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay?  

Writing a great literary analysis piece requires you to follow certain steps. Here’s what you need to do to write a literary essay:

Preparing for Your Essay 

The pre-writing process for writing a literary analysis essay includes the following:

  • Choosing a literary work to analyze
  • Reading and analyzing the work
  • Taking notes and organizing your thoughts
  • Creating an outline for your essay

Choosing a Work to Analyze 

As a student, you would most probably be assigned a literary piece to analyze. It could be a short story, a novel, or a poem.  However, sometimes you get to choose it yourself.

In such a case, you should choose a work that you find interesting and engaging. This will make it easier to stay motivated as you analyze the work and write your essay.

Moreover, you should choose a work that has some depth and complexity. This will give you plenty of material to analyze and discuss in your essay. Finally, make sure that your choice fits within the scope of the assignment and meets the expectations of your instructor.

Reading and Analyzing 

Once you’ve chosen a literary work, it's time to read the work with careful attention. There are several key elements to consider when reading and analyzing a literary work:

  • Plot - The sequence of events that make up the story. Analyzing the plot involves examining the structure of the story, including its exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
  • Characters - The people or entities that populate the story. Analyzing characters involves examining their motivations, personalities, relationships, and development over the course of the story.

Want to learn more about character analysis? Head to our blog about how to conduct character analysis and learn easy steps with examples.

  • Setting - The time, place, and environment in which the story takes place. Analyzing the setting involves examining how the atmosphere contributes to the story's overall meaning.
  • Theme - The underlying message or meaning of the story. Analyzing themes involves examining the work's central ideas and how they are expressed through the various elements of the story.

Moreover, it's important to consider the following questions while analyzing:

  • What is the central theme or main point the author is trying to make?
  • What literary devices and techniques has the author used?
  • Why did the author choose to write this particular work?
  • What themes and ideas are present in the work?

These questions will help you dive deeper into the work you are writing about.

Take Notes and Gather Material 

As you read and analyze the literary work, it's important to take notes so you don’t forget important details and ideas. This also helps you identify patterns and connections between different elements of the piece.

One effective way to take notes is to list important elements of the work, such as characters, setting, and theme. You can also use sticky notes, highlighters, or annotations to mark important passages and write down your ideas.

Writing Your Literary Analysis Essay 

Once you have read a piece of literature and taken notes, you have all the material you need to write an essay. Follow the simple steps below to write an effective literary analysis essay.

Create an Outline for Your Essay 

Firstly, creating an outline is necessary. This will help you to organize your thoughts and ideas and ensure that your essay flows logically and coherently.

This is what your literary essay outline would look like: 

Writing the Introduction 

Writing your essay introduction involves the three following parts:

  • Begin the introductory paragraph with an engaging hook statement that captures the readers' attention. An effective hook statement can take many different forms, such as a provocative quote, an intriguing question, or a surprising fact. 

Make sure that your hook statement is relevant to the literary work you are writing about. Here are a few examples of effective hooks:

  • Afterward, present the necessary background information and context about the literary work. For instance, 
  • Talk about the author of the work or when and where it was written. 
  • Give an overview of the work or why it is significant. 
  • Provide readers with sufficient context so they can know what the work is generally about.
  • Finally, end the introduction with a clear thesis statement . Your thesis statement should be a concise statement that clearly states the argument you will be making in your essay. It should be specific and debatable, and it should provide a roadmap for the rest of your essay.

For example, a thesis statement for an essay on "Hamlet" might be: 

Watch this video to learn more about writing an introduction for a literary analysis essay:

Writing the Body 

Here are the steps to follow when writing a body paragraph for a literary analysis essay:

  • Start with a topic sentence: 

The topic sentence should introduce the main point or argument you will be making in the paragraph. It should be clear and concise and should indicate what the paragraph is about.

  • Provide evidence: 

After you have introduced your main point, provide evidence from the text to support your analysis. This could include quotes, paraphrases, or summaries of the text.

  • Explain and discuss the evidence:

Explain how the evidence supports your main point or argument or how it connects back to your thesis statement.

  • Conclude the paragraph: 

End the paragraph by relating your main point to the thesis and discussing its significance. You should also use transitions to connect the paragraph to your next point or argument.

Writing the Conclusion 

The conclusion of a literary analysis essay provides closure to your analysis and reinforces your thesis statement. Here’s what a conclusion includes:

  • Restate your thesis statement: 

Start by restating your thesis statement in a slightly different way than in your introduction. This will remind the reader of the argument you made and the evidence you provided to support it.

  • Summarize your main points: 

Briefly summarize the main points you made in your essay's body paragraphs. This will help tie everything together and provide closure to your analysis.

  • Personal reflections:

The conclusion is the best place to provide some personal reflections on the literary piece. You can also explain connections between your analysis and the larger context. This could include connections to other literary works, your personal life, historical events, or contemporary issues.

  • End with a strong statement: 

End your conclusion with a strong statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. This could be a thought-provoking question, a call to action, or a final insight into the significance of your analysis.

Finalizing your Essay

You’ve completed the first draft of your literary analysis essay. Congratulations!

However, it’s not over just yet. You need some time to polish and improve the essay before it can be submitted. Here’s what you need to do:

Proofread and Revise your Essay 

After completing your draft, you should proofread your essay. You should look out for the following aspects:

  • Check for clarity: 

Make sure that your ideas are expressed clearly and logically. You should also take a look at your structure and organization. Rearrange your arguments if necessary to make them clearer.

  • Check for grammar and spelling errors: 

Use spelling and grammar check tools online to identify and correct any basic errors in your essay. 

  • Verify factual information:

You must have included information about the work or from within the work in your essay. Recheck and verify that it is correct and verifiable. 

  • Check your formatting: 

Make sure that your essay is properly formatted according to the guidelines provided by your instructor. This includes requirements for font size, margins, spacing, and citation style.

Helpful Tips for Revising a Literary Essay 

Here are some tips below that can help you proofread and revise your essay better:

  • Read your essay out loud:

Reading your essay out loud makes it easier to identify awkward phrasing, repetitive language, and other issues.

  • Take a break: 

It can be helpful to step away from your essay for a little while before starting the editing process. This can help you approach your essay with fresh eyes and a clearer perspective.

  • Be concise:

Remove any unnecessary words or phrases that do not add to your argument. This can help to make your essay more focused and effective.

  • Let someone else proofread and get feedback: 

You could ask a friend or a teacher to read your essay and provide feedback. This way, you can get some valuable insights on what you could include or catch mistakes that you might have missed.

Literary Analysis Essay Examples 

Reading a few good examples helps to understand literary analysis essays better. So check out these examples below and read them to see what a well-written essay looks like. 

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

Literary Analysis Essay Example

Sample Literary Analysis Essay

Lord of the Rings Literary Analysis

The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis

Literary Analysis Example for 8th Grade

Literary Analysis Essay Topics 

Need a topic for your literary analysis essay? You can pick any aspect of any work of literature you like. Here are some example topics that will help you get inspired:

  • The use of symbolism in "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • The theme of isolation in "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger.
  • The portrayal of social class in "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen.
  • The use of magical realism in "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  • The role of women in "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood.
  • The use of foreshadowing in "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding.
  • The portrayal of race and identity in "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison.
  • The use of imagery in "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy.
  • The theme of forgiveness in "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini.
  • The use of allegory in "Animal Farm" by George Orwell.

To conclude,

Writing a literary analysis essay can be a rewarding experience for any student or writer, But it’s not easy. However, by following the steps you learned in this guide, you can successfully produce a well-written literary analysis essay. 

Also, you have got some examples of essays to read and topic ideas to get creative inspiration. With these resources, you have all you need to craft an engaging piece. So don’t hesitate to start writing your essay and come back to this blog whenever you need.

The deadline is approaching, but you don’t have time to write your essay? No worries! Our analytical essay writing service is here to help you out!

At, we have a team of professional and experienced literature writers who can help you craft a compelling literary essay. Our affordable and reliable essay writing website focuses on providing high-quality essays and deliver them timely.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 4 components of literary analysis.

The four main components of literary analysis are: 

  • Conflict 
  • Characters 
  • Setting 

What is the fundamental characteristic of a literary analysis essay?

Interpretive is the fundamental characteristic of a literary analysis essay. 

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What Makes a Good Literature Paper?

An argument.

When you write an extended literary essay, often one requiring research, you are essentially making an argument. You are arguing that your perspective-an interpretation, an evaluative judgment, or a critical evaluation-is a valid one.

A debatable thesis statement

Like any argument paper you have ever written for a first-year composition course, you must have a specific, detailed thesis statement that reveals your perspective, and, like any good argument, your perspective must be one which is debatable.

You would not want to make an argument of this sort:

Shakespeare's Hamlet is a play about a young man who seeks revenge. That doesn't say anything-it's basically just a summary and is hardly debatable.

A better thesis would be this:

Hamlet experiences internal conflict because he is in love with his mother. That is debatable, controversial even. The rest of a paper with this argument as its thesis will be an attempt to show, using specific examples from the text and evidence from scholars, (1) how Hamlet is in love with his mother, (2) why he's in love with her, and (3) what implications there are for reading the play in this manner.

You also want to avoid a thesis statement like this:

Spirituality means different things to different people. King Lear , The Book of Romans , and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance each view the spirit differently. Again, that says nothing that's not already self-evident. Why bother writing a paper about that? You're not writing an essay to list works that have nothing in common other than a general topic like "spirituality." You want to find certain works or authors that, while they may have several differences, do have some specific, unifying point. That point is your thesis.
Lear , Romans , and Zen each view the soul as the center of human personality. Then you prove it, using examples from the texts that show that the soul is the center of personality.


  1. Literary Essay

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  2. Literary Essay

    how to write a literary essay video

  3. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Step by Step

    how to write a literary essay video

  4. 13+ Literary Essay Templates in Word

    how to write a literary essay video

  5. How do I write a literary essay?

    how to write a literary essay video

  6. How to Write a Literary Essay Step by Step Guide

    how to write a literary essay video


  1. Making Writing simple an essay by j.b.priestley

  2. How to Write Literary Analysis Explanation


  4. How to attempt a literary essay for CSS||structure of Essay||Boys will be Boys outline

  5. How Can I Easily Write a Basic Literary Analysis Essay?

  6. How Can I Effectively Write a Literary Analysis Essay?


  1. Literary Analysis: A Beginner's Guide to Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

    Learn how to write a literary essay in a few simple steps. Literary essays are part of any English curriculum, and knowing how to write them is vital for any...

  2. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

    Table of contents. Step 1: Reading the text and identifying literary devices. Step 2: Coming up with a thesis. Step 3: Writing a title and introduction. Step 4: Writing the body of the essay. Step 5: Writing a conclusion. Other interesting articles.

  3. How To Write A Literature (Literary) Essay

    In only 15 minutes I will teach you a simple technique to master the format and write great literature essays.Skip ahead:0:00 - Start00:09 - What not to do w...

  4. How do I write a literary essay?

    In this video students learn how to write a literary essay by stating a claim about the theme or a character in the book and providing three reasons. An simp...

  5. A Comprehensive Guide on How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

    A literary analysis essay typically consists of an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction should provide general information about the author and the text itself, while the body paragraphs should focus on specific points from the text that support your overall thesis statement.

  6. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay [Step By Step]

    Literary Analysis Essay Outline. Writing a literary analysis essay starts with understanding the information that fills an outline. This means that writing details that belong in how to write an analytical essay should come fairly easily. If it is a struggle to come up with the meat of the essay, a reread of the novel may be necessary.

  7. How to Write a Literary Analysis: 6 Tips for the Perfect Essay

    These 4 steps will help prepare you to write an in-depth literary analysis that offers new insight to both old and modern classics. 1. Read the text and identify literary devices. As you conduct your literary analysis, you should first read through the text, keeping an eye on key elements that could serve as clues to larger, underlying themes.

  8. Beginner's Guide to Literary Analysis

    Step 1: Read the Text Thoroughly. Literary analysis begins with the literature itself, which means performing a close reading of the text. As you read, you should focus on the work. That means putting away distractions (sorry, smartphone) and dedicating a period of time to the task at hand.


    Microsoft Word - Literary analysis.rtf. The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to carefully examine and sometimes evaluate a work of literature or an aspect of a work of literature. As with any analysis, this requires you to break the subject down into its component parts. Examining the different elements of a piece of literature is not an ...

  10. Literary Analysis Essay

    A literary analysis essay is an important kind of essay that focuses on the detailed analysis of the work of literature. The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to explain why the author has used a specific theme for his work. Or examine the characters, themes, literary devices, figurative language, and settings in the story.

  11. Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

    After you've read the text and collected information that you deem potentially helpful to your prompt, remember to organize that information. Take a look he...

  12. Tips and Tricks on Writing Literary Analysis Essay

    Read our tips to learn how to write a literary analysis essay flawlessly and get the best grade: 1. Read carefully. Choose a cozy place for reading - it's where no one will disturb you, and noise won't interrupt the process. Only in this case, you'll notice the most important details.

  13. How to Write a Good English Literature Essay

    3. Provide several pieces of evidence where possible. Many essays have a point to make and make it, tacking on a single piece of evidence from the text (or from beyond the text, e.g. a critical, historical, or biographical source) in the hope that this will be enough to make the point convincing.

  14. 4.2: The Writing Process for Literary Essays

    The preceding categories suggest that writing is a linear process — that is, that you will follow these steps in the following order: prewriting→researching→outlining→drafting→revising→feedback→re-revising→publishing. The reality of the writing process, however, is that as you write you shuttle back and forth in these stages.

  15. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay: An Insightful Guide

    Literary Analysis Outline. Here's a basic outline for this type of essay: Introduction. Hook: Engage the reader with a compelling quote, question, or anecdote related to the literary work. Background Information: Provide relevant information about the author, the title, and the context of the work. Thesis Statement: Clearly state the main point or argument of your analysis.

  16. How to Write an Essay

    How to Prepare to Write an Essay. Before you start writing your essay, you need to figure out who you're writing for (audience), what you're writing about (topic/theme), and what you're going to say (argument and thesis). This section contains links to handouts, chapters, videos and more to help you prepare to write an essay.

  17. A Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

    Writing the Body. Here are the steps to follow when writing a body paragraph for a literary analysis essay: Start with a topic sentence: The topic sentence should introduce the main point or argument you will be making in the paragraph. It should be clear and concise and should indicate what the paragraph is about.

  18. Introduction

    Lear, Romans, and Zen each view the soul as the center of human personality. Then you prove it, using examples from the texts that show that the soul is the center of personality. This handout provides examples and description about writing papers in literature. It discusses research topics, how to begin to research, how to use information, and ...

  19. Reading and Preparing to Write a Literary Analysis

    How does one write a literary analysis paper, the cornerstone of many English courses? Watch, listen, and learn from a master teacher.


    The term regularly used for the development of the central idea of a literary analysis essay is the body. In this section you present the paragraphs (at least 3 paragraphs for a 500-750 word essay) that support your thesis statement. Good literary analysis essays contain an explanation of your ideas and evidence from the text (short story,

  21. Opinion & Essays

    Low Culture Essay Low Culture Essay: Natasha Carthew on the Elephant Fayre. As festival season approaches, writer, memoirist and founder of the Class Festival of literature Natasha Carthew looks back to the 1980s and reflects on the influence of the anarchic Elephant Fayre on her life and work. Images courtesy of Port Eliot / Michael Barrett ...

  22. Creating a Thesis Statement: Literary Essay Video #1

    In this video, students learn how to create a thesis statement for a literary essay in a straightforward way. Great for flipping your classroom! Visit http:...

  23. Poetry Foundation

    From Poetry Off the Shelf March 2024. Monica Rico on cooking, grunt work, and the heat at General Motors. Submit poetry and letters to the editors of Poetry magazine. Poems, readings, poetry news and the entire 110-year archive of POETRY magazine.

  24. How to Write the PERFECT Literature Essay in 7 *Easy* Steps!

    Writing a literature essay can be difficult, but if you follow these steps, you'll be a pro in no time!This video explains how to write a literature essay to...

  25. How to Write a Great College Essay: Step-by-Step Guide

    Join us for a webinar hosted by EducationUSA, where expert adviser Umid Abidjanov will guide you through writing a strong essay for your undergraduate applic...