Literary Analysis Essay

Literary Analysis

Overview:  Write an essay analyzing the novel or the plays that we have read for class. Looking closely at what the literary work says and how it says it, and, using the elements of literary analysis, offer your readers a way of understanding the text that makes the text meaningful beyond simple plot summary.

In your analysis, you are encouraged to explore varied and diverse avenues of interpretation.  Remember, however, that your analysis must be grounded in the text; you must support your thesis by quoting selectively from the literary work(s).

Please do the following:

  • Organize the essay around a question you’re trying to answer about the text and its possible interpretations.
    • Use your question as a guide for reading the text selectively.
    • As you shape your answer to the question, rely mostly on passages and other information from the primary work as a source of evidence.

Purpose: To produce an interesting and detailed analysis of a literary work. Pose an interesting, problematic, or significant question about your chosen work.

Audience:  Although your targeted audience is your instructors and peers, who have read the works you’re writing about, you should still provide some context for your interpretation somewhere in the introduction of your essay. Context includes brief plot summary (no more than four sentences).

Format: MLA

Due Dates:

            Final Draft: April 25, 2021

Additional Guidelines for Literary Analysis Essay:

  • You must use at least one peer-reviewed scholarly source of literary criticism to support your argument.
  • Develop a clear, focused thesis that explicitly indicates your proposed interpretation of the work.
  • Provide an engaging introductory paragraph that includes the author’s name, title of the literary work, and the essay’s thesis.
  • Use substantial textual evidence (quotes from the literary work).
  • Always be sure to “unpack” your quotations.  All quotes and passages used as support must be adequately developed and explained.  A quote cannot stand alone in the essay.
  • Do not use first person (I, we, our, me).  When it comes to a personal interpretation of fiction, you are the authority; however, phrases that begin with “I believe” and “I think” detract from your authority and familiarity with the text and make your interpretation look like simple personal opinion rather than an informed, supported analysis.
  • A works cited page must accompany this essay; include a bibliographic citation on the works cited page for the literary work you analyze.
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