Writing a Literary Analysis Paper
The Purpose of a Literary Analysis:
A literary analysis is not merely a summary of a literary work. Instead, it is an argument about the work that expresses a writer’s personal perspective, interpretation, judgment, or critical evaluation of the work. This is accomplished by examining the literary devices, word choices, or writing structures the author uses within the work. The purpose of a literary analysis is to demonstrate why the author used specific ideas, word choices, or writing structures to convey his or her message.
How to Create a Literary Analysis:
1. Read the text closely several times. Focus on the ideas that are being presented. Think about the characters’ development and the author’s writing technique. What might be considered interesting, unusual, or important? 2. Brainstorm a list of potential topics. Highlight important passages in the text and take notes on these passages. Later, when writing the paper, these notes should help a writer to remember which aspects of the story caught his/her attention. The topic chosen should always be based on a writer’s interpretation of the author’s message. Here are some things a writer may want to consider when brainstorming for a literary analysis. Character: What observations might a writer make about the characters? Are there discrepancies in what they think, say, or do? Are the observations a writer makes different from what other characters say? How does the author describe the characters? Are the characters “dynamic” (a dynamic character is a character that undergoes important changes throughout the work)? Are the characters “static” characters (a static character is a character that stays the same throughout the work)? Are the characters “flat” characters (a flat character is a character that does not have vivid character traits) or “round” characters (a round character is a character that has vivid character traits)? Are the characters symbolic or representative of some universal quality? Is it possible that two characters in the text might be compared or contrasted? Setting: Is there a relationship between the work’s setting and its mood? Does the setting reflect the work’s theme? How does the setting impact the characters? Does a change in the setting affect the mood, characters, or conflict? Plot: How might the beginning of the work be interpreted? How does the plot build suspense? Does the author use techniques such as foreshadowing or flashback? Are there patterns of cause-effect relationships? Do events occur in a logical order? Examine the events that lead to the climax and determine how the work ends? Provided by Tutoring Services
Writing a Literary Analysis Paper
Theme: What is the major idea or theme of the work? How does the author relay this theme? Is there a greater meaning to the details given? How do the characters’ moods affect the theme? What allusions are made throughout the work? Are there repeating patterns or symbols? What does the title say about the theme? Dialogue: What is the purpose of the dialogue? Is the dialogue appropriate in terms of word choice or sentence length? How does the dialogue impact the characterization? How does the author use the dialogue to show the mood of the characters? How does this aid the author’s message? How does the dialogue impact the plot? Imagery: In what way might a specific image or series of images be analyzed? How might the development of images throughout the work be explained? Are the images important to the meaning of the work? How are images interrelated with other literary elements? Figures of speech: How are figures of speech such as similes, metaphors, and hyperboles used throughout the text? How are these figures of speech important in relation to the meaning of the text? Are figures of speech interrelated between other literary elements? Tone: How might describe the attitude of the author or the tone of the work be described? Is...
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