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HOW TO WRITE A LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY

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HOW TO WRITE A LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to examine carefully and sometimes evaluate a work of literature or an aspect of a work of literature. As with any analysis, this requires you to break the subject down into its component parts. A literary analysis is NOT a summary of plot. The Thesis Statement
A. Start with an essential question - a specific question that you want to answer for your audience about the literary work you are analyzing.
a. For example:
i. How does JD Salinger's character development help create theme in The Catcher in the Rye?
ii. How are fate and excessive pride connected in the play Antigone?
iii. How does Dylan Thomas use literary elements in his poem "Fern Hill"?
iv. How does Paul Fleishman define community in his novel Seedfolks?
B. Then answer your essential question. That will be your thesis; it will require two to three components.
a. The thesis statement tells the reader what to expect: it is a restricted, precisely worded declarative sentence that states the purpose of your essay -- the point the essay is making. b. For example:
i. JD Salinger's characterization of Holden Caulfield, Ackley, and James Castle helps develop the theme of the alienation of the outsider in The Catcher in the Rye.
ii. The fate of the main characters - Antigone, Creon, and Ismene - in Antigone illustrates the danger of excessive pride.
iii. The imagery, rhyme scheme, and expressive language in Dylan Thomas' poem "Fern Hill" reveal the uncertainty of an individual's relationship with nature.
iv. Throughout Seedfolks, the meaning of community is demonstrated through the willingness, cooperation, and dedication of the gardeners.
The Introduction
The introduction to your literary analysis essay should try to arouse interest in your reader. * To bring immediate focus to your subject, you may want to start the introduction with a "hook":
o a quotation
o a provocative question
o a startling statement
o background information relevant to your thesis
* Then, begin to connect the "hook" to the literary work.
o Include the title of the work of literature, the name of the author, and the work's genre (TAG).
* The thesis is usually the last sentence of the introduction and is the most specific statement in the introduction.
The following is a satisfactory introductory paragraph which includes an appropriate thesis statement:
"The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds." This statement, by Abraham Lincoln, expresses his far-reaching vision of America as a true melting pot, where people of various backgrounds come together for one common purpose. This is the very definition of community, a group of people who are able to work together, despite their differences, for one united vision. Seedfolks, by Paul Fleishman, is a novel that illustrates the power that a community brings to its individuals. Throughout Seedfolks, the meaning of community is demonstrated through the willingness, cooperation, and dedication of the gardeners. The Body Paragraphs
* Purpose:
o To present the paragraphs (at least 3 paragraphs for a 500-750 word essay) that support the thesis statement in the order in which they are presented in the thesis.
* Organization
o Topic Sentence
* States main idea of paragraph * Relates to one of the three points mentioned in thesis. o Concrete Example
* This is a specific action or statement by a character from the literary work that clearly shows the topic sentence. Usually one to two sentences. When citing an example from a novel, include the page numbers in parentheses at the end of the citation.
o Explanation
* This is two to three sentences that clearly show how the example is an example of the topic sentence and how it is related to the thesis.
o Transition (You have lists of these.)
* This is a word or phrase that connects from example one to example two.
o Concrete Example
* This is a second specific action or statement by a character from the literary work that clearly shows the topic sentence. Usually one to two sentences. When citing an example from a novel, include the page numbers in parentheses at the end of the citation.
o Explanation
* This is two to three sentences that clearly show how the example is an example of the topic sentence and how it is related to the thesis.
o Closing * This is a sentence that ties the whole paragraph to the thesis and transitions to the next body paragraph.
The Conclusion
* Purpose
o Restate the thesis.
o Give a finished feel to the essay.
o Leave the reader with a final thought.
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