How to write a literary analysis essay: major concerns

How to write a literary analysis essay, college, essay, questions, personal, study, sources, words, story, academic

A word combination - a literary analysis - awakes fear among manystudents which is also mixed up with the feeling of confusion anddespair. College students tell that they are dismayed whenhearing these two words together and think they will scarcely beable to craft at least a third-rate essay of this type. Let’sdiscover whether it is so difficult to write a literary analysispaper as it seems to be at the first sight.

Frankly speaking, the analytical thinking is the ability of a fewpeople. However, high order thinking can be trained quiteeffectively provided that a teacher uses the right approach. Whyare we writing all this stuff? Our reply is to convince you thata skill to analyze things can be acquired by everyone only ifthey take a bit more effort and be diligent. So leave your fearsbehind and conquer you literary analysis with our helping hand.

In the literary analysis essay, you are supposed to demonstratethe ability to identify the issue based on associations, trendsand cause-effect relationships between the given options.

This type of paper serves the purpose to find out what the authorthinks about the plot, settings, theme, and characters of thestory. Sometimes, you are expected to discover how the message ofthe book is created through these components. Also, yourobjective might be to criticize the author’s message and themethods used to reveal it to the readers.

A great literary analysis explains how a plot, characters, andthemes are used by the writer. Sometimes, you may want to explorehow the author creates meaning through these elements; otherwise,you may want to criticize the author’s methods and ideas of theliterary piece analyzed.

A literary analysis helps improve your writing skills as well asdevelop your analytical thinking.

If you are going to master the art of analyzing literary works,you will surely complete your college literature coursesuccessfully. So that’s the point to start learning!

What you need to know about a literary analysis

Everyone who is assigned this essay type should know that themain goal of it is a careful examination of a literary work.While reading, your mind and eyes are to mention every smallestevent, comment or actions that make significance to the point ofyour essay. We do hope that you understand that an analysis hasnothing in common with a plot summary. The papers that deal witha summary are book reviews and reports while a literary analysisrequires much more than exposition.

A gentle reminder: you write a report or a summary to show thatyou have read the book. As for analysis, you make a thesis andkeep writing to support it. A literary analysis is more like anargumentative essay where you prove your own claim using theevidence collected during the research.

So the first rule says: do not retell but explain and analyze.

Now you are ready to absorb some more info on how to write aliterary analysis essay. Let’s get down to it!

How to analyze

How to write a literary analysis essay, college, essay, questions, personal, study, sources, words, story, academic

Your work begins as follows:

  • Read thoroughly. Let us clarify: you should read the originaltext. No cut-down versions, no summaries and no book-basedmovies. Even if your novel is 500 pages long.
  • Understand the instructions. Most often, an assignment toanalyze a book means to read it through and think analyticallyabout the conclusion without referring to additional sources.However, in rare cases, a professor may ask you to draw someoutside expert opinion on the book.
  • Take notes. Write down the details that seem important foryour analysis as it is impossible to keep everything in yourhead. So that to avoid pouring through the text again, you haveto uses all ways to highlight the significant information. Putdown or underline quotes, literary terms and devices. Save yourtime doing the same with the ideas that come to you whilereading.
  • Write a snappy introduction and a concise thesis statement. Agood decision for a catching introduction of your essay will be aquestion or a quote. By a question, you will sharpen the readers’attention to the topic and make them wonder what the answer willbe. By a quote, which might be either shocking or compelling, youcan hook the readers effectively. Finish the opening paragraphwith a clear thesis. A thesis is a must in your literary analysisas it shows what you are going to tell in the body paragraphs.More tips on writing a thesis statement you can easily find onour matchless paper writing service.

The pre-writing phase is over and it is time to start analyzing.

What to analyze

A literary analysis is mostly about dealing with the language ofthe text.

Your literary essay may discuss a bunch of concepts, for example:

  • How literary components interrelate
  • How some stylistic devices function in the story
  • How literary devices work for larger contexts, that means howthey serve to unveil certain aesthetic, social, religiouspolitical and other issues.

Not to miss a single literary device or technique, you shouldcheck basic terms in appropriate handbooks. Here is a prompt withthe most common literary terms:

  • Allegory
  • Character
  • Conflict
  • Context
  • Genre
  • Metaphor
  • Irony
  • Plot
  • Repetition
  • Setting
  • Symbol

Knowing how they function and how they look, you will easilyidentify them in the text. There is no need to explain the factthat if you are not familiar with something, you will never havea chance to spot it. In order to search for them effectively, youhad better break a literary work into smaller pieces. Analyzeeach part individually and then compose a larger picture andfinally put all elements together.

Along with style and language, you have to examine and evaluatethese important elements carefully.


Look more closely at this part as it may prompt the writer’sopinion through places or characters.


It is hard to imagine the analysis of a literary piece withoutits characters’ portrayal. You can examine everything: theirappearances, beliefs, backgrounds, clothes, manners, location,actions, etc. You are obliged to study the personages wellbecause writers almost always use them to express their personalopinions about gender, cultures, values, religion, history andother things.


A plot is a storyline of the literary composition. Most commonly,a literary analysis essay does not analyze the plot. However, ifthere is a need, you may include this information in your paper.


This is a component that an analysis essay cannot do without.Conflict can appear in different forms. Typically it is a “duel”between the antagonist and protagonist. There may be external orinternal conflicts or the struggle between natural and off-worldforces. A conflict can also come in the form of the writer’sopinion about the key issues of the day.

Other essentials for writing a smart analysis paper

Writing a literary analysis requires a meticulous criticalapproach. Also, this process needs to be properly planned andorganized. In this section, we have collected useful ideas andtips for conquering an analysis paper without rewriting it overagain.

Tip 1. Write your notes using this question-like formula:

  • Who wrote the book?
  • What are the main events of the story?
  • Where does the scene take place?
  • When does the story happen?
  • Why do you prove your claim? How do you justify it?

Tip 2. Compose the essay strictly in this order – introduction,body, and conclusion. The body paragraphs should be argumentativeand cohesive. Each paragraph must follow this scheme: a topicsentence, a context, an introduction of the quote, a quote, anexplanation and analysis.

Tip 3. Use MLA format. Observe the citing rules that this formatsuggests.

Tip 4. Use academic voice. Your entire paper should soundconfident, concise, logical and critical.

Tip 5. Review for accuracy. Ideal papers are flawless and that isa fact!

If you feel that your editing skills leave much to be desired, wewill competently finalize your paper. Want more constructivecomments? Contact us right here!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.