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7 Steps to Write a Great Literary Analysis Essay

7 Steps to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

Writing an excellent literary analysis essay can be challenging, especially if you don't have much experience writing formal essays. However, with the right guidance and structure, students can unlock the secrets to writing a great literary analysis essay that will prepare them for not only high school, but also college writing. Let’s dive deeper into understanding what a literary analysis essay is, and then review step-by-step guidelines to writing one.
1. What is a Literary Analysis Essay?

There are 5 common types of high school essays you will encounter: Descriptive, Narrative, Expository, Argumentative, and Analytical. We have provided a general guideline to help you get started with writing any high school essay types. Literary analysis essays fall under the umbrella of analytical essays. An analytical essay is a writing genre that provides an in-depth analysis of a topic, ranging from art, music, literary text to politics, science and philosophy, etc. The purpose of this type of essay is not to persuade readers to a certain point of view, but to provide a well-rounded and comprehensive analysis of your topic.
Similarly, literary analysis essays provide an in-depth analysis of literary work, such as fiction, novels, poems, etc. The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to provide an examination and interpretation of the literary work’s meaning, characters, and literary devices. Even when the author is trying to prove their arguments, their evidence and reasoning should be based on fact and logic rather than personal feelings.

2. How to structure a literary analysis essay

Every essay should follow this essay structure: Introduction, Body and Conclusion.

Once you have identified your topic and focus, you can start writing your literary analysis essay by introducing the literary work, your argument and the reason why you chose this work and this argument. Overall, the introduction should provide enough context for the reader to understand your general argument and be excited to read on.

Every paragraph in the body should focus on your theory or argument, with each paragraph diving deeper into a specific point or perspective to support your thesis using evidence and analysis.

Finally, the conclusion should be the summary of your theory/argument and a summary of the analysis that you conducted in the body. You can also use this space to discuss the implications of your argument to the literary work as a whole.

3. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay
Step 1: Choose the right literary work based on the assignment prompt.

Depending on your assignment prompt, you may or may not have the freedom to choose the literary work that you want to analyze. In the case that you have the option to choose, make sure that you read through the entirety of the piece you’re analyzing carefully. Don’t forget to highlight important passages or interesting points, write down any questions that come to mind. Annotating and highlighting texts will help you build up a strong foundation for your analysis.

Step 2: Do a lot of research

Before writing a literary analysis essay, please make sure that you do foundational research beforehand. A solid foundation of research using both primary and secondary sources will not only enrich your understanding of the literary work, but also empower you to develop the most compelling and well-supported arguments for your essay. When conducting research for your literary analysis essay, don’t limit yourself to just the text you’re analyzing. Seek out primary sources like the author’s biographical information, historical context, or letters and journals that provide insights into their creative process. Additionally, explore secondary sources such as critical essays, scholarly articles, and literary analysis written by experts in the field. Organize your findings with meticulous notes, and keep track of your sources for accurate citations. These sources can offer valuable perspectives and context that can enhance your analysis.

Step 3: Develop a Strong Thesis Statement

After reading the literary work thoroughly, you should be able to develop a thesis statement. We recommend that you follow the Triple-C rule: Concise, Clear, and Consistent.

Concise: Your thesis statement should get straight to the point you want to make.

Clear: The thesis statement should be clear and should not leave the reader with ambiguity or confusion.

Consistent: The thesis statement should be consistent in its approach and not contradict itself or present conflicting ideas. This consistency helps to maintain coherence and logical flow in your essay.

In addition, your thesis statement should not state an obvious fact but present an arguable perspective that merits discussion in your essay and among your readers.

Overall, a well-crafted thesis statement not only summarizes the main points of the essay but also gives the readers a roadmap of the central points in your essay.

Step 4: Focus on one point for each body paragraph

A good rule of thumb when writing a literary analysis essay is to limit your arguments to 3 main points, then dedicate each body paragraph to one point only. This approach ensures that you will have a topic sentence that summarizes the main points of that paragraph, then provides readers with evidence and analysis from research to support that point. Remember to provide contrasting opinions to have a well-rounded analysis, and strengthen your argument through refuting the contrasting argument with additional evidence and reasoning.

Step 5: Revise and Edit

Completing the first draft of your essay is a significant achievement, but you’ll want to polish the draft to craft a completed essay. Some common revisions you should consider include grammar and spelling check, sentence cohesion, and thesis and analysis alignment.

Step 6: Seek Feedback and Final Proofreading

When revising your essay, don’t forget to seek feedback from other people like a teacher, parent, or peer. Since they haven’t read the essay, they will be able to bring fresh perspectives to make your literary analysis essay stronger. After revising and seeking feedback, conduct a final proofreading pass. Take your time and don’t rush the process.

Step 7: Citation

Giving proper credit to the authors you’ve referenced in your essay is of utmost importance to avoid plagiarism and uphold academic integrity. Please make sure that your citations and references are accurate and consistent with the required citation style (such as MLA, APA, or Chicago).

If you need guidance on how to write a great literary analysis essay, we hope that this article has provided you with a detailed step-by-step guide. As the last takeaway, we hope that you will not be afraid to experiment out of your comfort zone in terms of thesis statements, arguments and evidence. Every great writer was once a student, so don’t be afraid!

Further Your Literary Analysis Skills with Aralia

Aralia is also offering various year-round writing competition preparation programs and writing courses for middle and high school students worldwide. Our teachers are more than regular tutors because we are committed to bringing the best personalized support for students’ growth.

Writing Competition Aralia Education
Writing Competition

This class is offered in the summer every year. Students from 13 to 18 years old wanting to learn how to shape their written English into effective and publishable creative pieces will find this particular Writing Competition course very exciting. The class will be shown a range of tools to learn the nuances of controlled, purposeful writing, including: figurative language, effective structuring and specific forms that they will apply to their own pieces.

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