No matter your major, the chances are that at some point in your academic life you’ll be assigned a literary analysis essay. At first, this type of assignment may appear difficult and completely unclear. But if you invest enough time and effort in research, as well as planning and drafting your essay, you’ll manage to craft a strong paper that will impress your readers and get a decent grade. We’ve gathered some simple tips that will help you craft a successful literary analysis essay and become a more effective academic writer.
It begins with a story…
Lots of students groan under the weight of their homework, unable to spare a free minute for themselves. Still, being pressed for time doesn’t give you any right to skip assigned readings. If you think that familiarizing yourself with a short summary of a compulsory reading will be just enough to put together a decent literary analysis paper, you’re wrong. It’s critical that you read a short story, a poem, or even an entire novel till the end. Thus, you’ll get a good grasp of a literary piece at hand and increase your chances of creating a strong and well-structured essay.
Read the prompt carefully
Once your professor gives you an essay prompt, take your time to figure out what is expected of you. Ideally, you should identify the key words in your essay question and keep note of the particular points that must be covered in your future essay. Take care not to miss anything. Read and re-read your prompt until you fully understand it. Also, pay attention to other requirements, such as word count, the quantity of sources you need to use to support your point of view, etc.
Craft a strong thesis statement
Undoubtedly, you’ve been told dozens of times that a thesis is the heart of any essay. Therefore, a strong thesis is so critical for the success of your literary analysis paper.
To craft a good thesis, you should put together a precisely worded declarative sentence that not only states the purpose of your writing, but also clearly demonstrates your inferences about a particular topic. It’s also important to note that your thesis should be arguable and therefore will need substantial evidence to prove itself viable.
For example, for your Romeo and Juliet essays, the following theses would work:
‘Fate and fortune play a pivotal role in the life of Romeo and Juliet and their tragic demise.’
‘Friar Lawrence’s decision to marry Romeo and Juliet was spurred by his desire to put an end to blood feud but his lack of foresightedness and err of judgement bring the lovers closer to death.’
As with any introduction, in your literary essay, you should present your topic in a clear manner and try to capture your readers’ attention. You may start with an effective hook in the form of a rhetorical question or Shakespeare’s quote, or a combination of these. You may also include relevant context or background information to give your audience a better understanding of what you’re going to discuss in your essay.
The body is where you’re going to develop your central ideas of your literary analysis essay. If your essay shouldn’t exceed a 500-750 word limit, it’s a good rule of thumb to include three paragraphs, with each discussing a new idea and providing substantial evidence from both primary and secondary sources. Don’t forget to provide enough textual evidence in the form of direct quotes or paraphrases in order to back up your arguments and convince your audience of your credibility as an author.
The concluding paragraph should contain a detailed wrap-up of the most important ideas and points made in your essay. This final paragraph gives your paper a sense of completeness and allows your audience to synthesize everything you’ve previously stated. The easiest way to summarize your idea is to restate your thesis statement. But don’t do it verbatim. Use other words to repeat the same central claims and briefly remind your readers what evidence you used to shore up your arguments. It’s also a good idea to make a relevant comment about the literary work you are analyzing. But try to do this from a different perspective in your conclusion.