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Literary analysis involves examining all the parts of a novel, play, short story, or poem—elements such as character, setting, tone, and imagery—and thinking about how the author uses those elements to create certain effects.A literary essay isn’t a book review: you’re not being asked whether or not you liked a book or whether you’d recommend it to another reader.A thesis is a claim about a work of literature that needs to be supported by evidence and arguments.
Maybe the title Happy Days totally disagrees with the book’s subject matter (hungry orphans dying in the woods).
Maybe the main character acts one way around his family and a completely different way around his friends and associates.
” “Why do pigs keep showing up in Lord of the Flies ? ” “How does Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter remind me of my sister?
” Once you know what question you want to answer, it’s time to scour the book for things that will help you answer the question.
A literary essay also isn’t like the kind of book report you wrote when you were younger, where your teacher wanted you to summarize the book’s action.
A high school- or college-level literary essay asks, “How does this piece of literature actually work? ” and, “Why might the author have made the choices he or she did?
If it fascinated you, chances are you can draw on it to write a fascinating essay. Maybe you were surprised to see a character act in a certain way, or maybe you didn’t understand why the book ended the way it did.
Confusing moments in a work of literature are like a loose thread in a sweater: if you pull on it, you can unravel the entire thing.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to say yet—right now you’re just collecting ideas and material and letting it all percolate.
Keep track of passages, symbols, images, or scenes that deal with your topic.