LITERATURE ESSAY

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HOW TO WRITE A LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY

  • Introduction: Be Brief; give some suggestion of the direction you intend to take in your essay. Indicate the aspects of the book you intend to deal with.
  • Paragraphing: In your plan you should identify very clearly around six distinct points you intend to make and the specific parts of the text that you intend to examine in some detail. When writing your essay you should devote one or two paragraphs to each point. Try to make smooth links between paragraphs.
  • Evidence: When you make a point – you must prove it. Just as a lawyer in court must produce evidence to support his case, so you must produce evidence to prove the comments you make about characters, relationships, themes, style etc. When you make a point, refer to the text. give an example to support what you say. Better still, use a quote.
  • Quotes: Remember to lay out quotes correctly. Start a new line and indent like this:writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing:

    “quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote”

    writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing writing:

    Remember to introduce the quote with a colon and use quotation marks. It is important to lay out quotes correctly because it shows you are professional about what you are doing. Keep them short – no more than three or four lines each.

  • Selection: Avoid the trap of just re-telling the story. The important thing is to be selective in the way you use the text. Only refer to those parts of the book that help you to answer the question.
  • Answer the question: it sounds obvious, but it’s so easy to forget the question and go off at a tangent. When you have finished a paragraph read it through and ask yourself. “How does this contribute to answering the question?” If it doesn’t, change it so that it does address the question directly.
  • Conclusion: At the end, try to draw all the strands of your various points together. This should be the part of your essay, which answers the question most directly and forcefully.
  • Style: Keep it formal. Try to avoid making it chatty. If you imagine you are a lawyer in court trying to prove your point of view about a book, that might help to set the right tone.
  • Be creative: Remember you do not have to agree with other people’s points of view about literature. If your ideas are original or different, so long as you develop them clearly, use evidence intelligently and argue persuasively, your point of view will be respected. We want literature to touch you personally and it will often affect different people in different ways. Be creative.