Writing a Literary Essay

What Is a Literary Essay?

A literary analysis essay is an academic assignment that examines and evaluates a work of literature or a given aspect of a specific literary piece. It tells about the big idea or theme of a text you’ve read.

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You are not supposed to write about what the text is about, but to offer a personal response, a piece of literary criticism, a response to an essay question.

In the most basic form, these are the steps you should follow:

  • Understand the purpose of a literary analysis.
  • Plan
  • Write (make sure you answer the essay question)
  • Edit

What Is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay?

The main purpose of a literary analysis essay is to prove that you’ve carefully examined and evaluated a work of literature from various aspects. First of all, you must understand the term analysis. It means breaking something up to its essential components, and analyzing how their features contribute towards the overall impression.

Literary devices are things the author uses to tell the story or make a point. They could include alliteration, imagery, metaphors, allusions, allegories, repetition, flashback, foreshadowing, or any number of other devices the author employs to write the story or poem

When you’re reading for pleasure, you’re mainly focused on emotions and visualizations of the scenes and characters. You’ll still pay attention to those elements of the reading process, but you’ll also be analytical towards the book. You’ll consider these elements:

  • Subject
  • Form and Style
  • Main theme and tones
  • Characters’ strengths and flaws
  • Storyline strengths and flaws
  • Point of view
  • etc.

Structure to write an essay

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Inserting quotations

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Linkers and connectors are words that relate one idea or sentence of the text with another. They connect the ideas logically.
Why are they used?
They give direction to the writer. They are also used to guide the reader through his thoughts. They make the meaning specific.

Using connectors

Verbs we need to understand

Introducing quotations

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1. Planning

2. Relevant to the question asked

3. Use the author’s name

4. Synonyms for the word ‘suggest’

5. Introduction – don’t spend too long (3 sentences)

6. Isolate a good quote Make a point / embed Identify technique / broad analysis Zoom in / word level analysis Context Sound level analysis (sibilance) Reference to the form of text

7. Infer deeply

8. Structure

9. Sophisticated way of writing

10. Practice writing essays

11. Response – feminist, masculine, modern, contemporary

12. Point of view/voice

13. Summary – a new, short conclusion

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