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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay: Full Guide

19 Nov 2018

The aim of a literary analysis essay is to push the student to examine a piece of literature, understand the links between small parts of the text and the whole work, and put it onto the paper. By composing this kind of paper students can better grasp the meaning of the literary work. It involves decomposition of a book into parts and considering each part separately, but it isn't so hard as good book reports. You will need to use different approaches. In this article, we suggest several useful tips for your attention.

How to Write a Literary Analysis?

As a rule, this is a very chaotic process if you don’t have enough experience. In this case, we would strongly recommend making a research on your chosen issue before starting to write. At least, read this article to the end to have a basic understanding.

First, you should remember that the choice of a topic is very important, so try to choose something you are really interested in. You will be inspired more if you discuss something that truly is meaningful for you. This way, it’s easier to capture readers’ attention. The topic should reflect the main idea. In addition, it should express your point of view on the chosen problem.

For example, if you’re going to discuss the process of development of a personality and the factors influencing this process, you may wish to choose the following topic: “A Catcher in the Rye: Factors Influencing the Development of a Personality” as an option. A catchy topic provides 50% of the success of your work. Try to make it meaningful and informative to capture attention and evoke interest in readers. The choice of the topic is important because your further discussion will revolve around it.

Second, you need to write a literary analysis essay outline. This will help you to define the main idea of a piece of literature and divide the text into several parts for further discussion.

For example, you can collect information from the texts written by literary critics to have an idea of how to start your paper. Most probably, literary critics are more experienced than you and you can take their opinions into account when developing your arguments. However, this doesn’t mean you have to support these opinions, follow them or use them as a starting point of your discussion. 

Now you can start writing the first lines of your paper according to the outline. Make a short writing plan, ask questions that could help to disclose the main idea and write the issues you would like to discuss under the subheadings. Use your outline or a writing plan as a skeleton of your paper.

Then start developing your ideas under each subheading using your analytical skills. 

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay - Edubirdie.com

Different Types of Literary Analysis Essays  

There are different types of this kind of paper. How you would write it will depend on the discipline as literary essays cover a great number of disciplines. History, social studies, communication, literature, marketing, management are only several disciplines among many others.

We selected several types of literary analysis paper and added their descriptions to give you insight regarding paper writing patterns. Here, we present the characteristics of every type of these papers to help you choose your own pattern to analyze the work.

  • close reading – this is a writing method which involves attentive reading and further interpretation of the text. It’s important to address the details and explain how the parts of the text form the entire paper and discuss core ideas. 
  • theoretical – you need to employ the theories related to the main idea and topic. For example, if you discuss the way social opinions are formed, you need to apply the agenda-setting theory.
  • comparative (synergistic)comparative essay writing is based on a comparison of two or more alternatives in one work. For example, if the topic is the comparison of socialist and democratic systems, the analysis is supposed to show the differences between the two systems based on the decomposition of their core elements. 
  • historical (contextual) – this type of paper may concern various disciplines. History is one of these disciplines. Sometimes in-depth historical analysis is needed to explain various events. In this analysis, you can rely on the critical sources available in libraries or the internet. 
  • applied – applied paper requires the analysis of the issue from a practical perspective. 

You can choose from these types of essays depending on the discipline you’re learning. The correct choice of the paper type will help make a strong paper with a clear focus.

Typical Structure 

How do you write a literary analysis? Typically, the answer on the question how to structure an essay is simple, because this type of paper includes the following sections: introduction, body, and conclusion.


Introduction aims at establishing the context for the readers. Also, you can briefly discuss the background to give insights to the issue under the discussion. The introduction should contain the full name of the author of the literary work and its title. Think well about the first lines as their function is to draw the attention of the readers and encourage them to follow you through the whole work. This is an essential rule in academic writing.

For example, if you discuss the role of internet media in the Arab Spring revolution, you may wish to start your paper like this: “In general, people don’t like to think and analyze. In addition, they tend to consume the ready-made media products rather than analyze the issue considering the facts and justifications”.


In the body of your paper, you should retell the story narrated by the writer. Writing a brief summary is a good idea to show you can synthesize that is why it is one of the literary analysis tips. Further, you need to develop your ideas and disclose your observations regarding the issue. An ideal size for this type of essay is up to 1,000 words, but only you decide how many overuse them as well. It’s better to paraphrase and rewrite the story to show your analytical skills to your professor. Follow your own style and make your personal observations based on the critical articles examined in the process of writing. It would be nice if the body of your essay will consist of three paragraphs. Make an argument and its justification that relate to the thesis statement in each paragraph. The paragraphs should focus on a particular issue that relates to the main subject of discussion.

For example, if you’re discussing the main character from a book, you should emphasize its temper and behavior, relationship or conflicts with other characters. 


You can summarize the main points of your essay in the conclusion when writing a literature analysis. It’s important to compose a short, but strong conclusion to strengthen the final impression of your essay. The conclusion should not contain any new information of statements, only a brief summary of your own developments. It’s essential to give a sense of completion to the readers by restating the thesis and then adding a short description of your arguments and justifications.

In your conclusion, you need to explain why this book is important and describe the means used by the author to convey his/her point of view on a certain issue. 

Literary Analysis Essay Example

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