Easy Guide on How to Write a Literary Analysis

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It’s easy to define the concept of writing a literary analysis: you analyze a piece of literature. Since it’s something that’s not easy to do in practice, we decided to provide a detailed guide on how to analyze literature.

Is It Easy to Learn How to Write a Literary Analysis?

No, it’s not! You would be surprised to find out you’re not the only student who doesn’t quite know how to write a literary analysis essay. Your goal is to read a piece of literature, understand all its details, and analyze it from different aspects. The process demands close attention to the author’s style, the elements of the story, and the characters’ personalities. As it turns out, you’ll have to make an effort to learn how to write a literary analysis paper.

Before going any further, you need to understand the concept of analyzing a piece of literature. You’re not criticizing it; that’s a whole different thing. You’re not writing a plot summary, either. Many students misunderstand the literary analysis paper for a critic or a plot summary.

Through this type of paper, you explore how the characters act and feel in different situations, and you discuss the writer’s point of view. Depending on your professor’s instructions, you may also analyze the setting, theme, style, symbolism, or structure of the piece. A literary analysis can focus on a single of these aspects or combine few in a single essay.

Your Step-By-Step Guide to Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

We’ll explain what exactly a literary analysis essay should include, so you’ll know how to tackle the project. Here is a step-by-step guide that will lead you to success:

1. Understand the Assignment

What does your professor want you to focus on? The structure, style, symbolism, or another aspect of the story? Maybe he wants a combined analysis of various aspects. If they didn’t clarify the instructions, don’t hold back and ask. You need a clear understanding of the assignment before you even start reading the book.

2. Read the Literature

You would be surprised to see how many students try to analyze a piece of literature without even reading it. “Well, there’s plenty of info on Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, online. Why should I bother reading it?” That’s their reasoning and it’s completely wrong.

Don’t rely on Goodreads or blogs that discuss the literature. Yes, those resources can help you understand it, but you’ll still have to write a unique analysis. There’s no way of analyzing that excludes reading the actual literature first.

3. Keep Taking Notes as You Read

Write down details that help you understand the story and its characters, and highlight important information. Note the style and pace of the writer and note down your impressions.

Pay attention to symbolism as well. The bell in For Whom the Bell Tolls clearly means something. What?

4. Start Writing. Include All the Right Stuff!

When you’ve read the piece and you’re well-prepared with notes, the literary analysis is not a huge challenge. Here are the most important things to do when writing the paper:

  • Include a thesis statement in the introduction. This part will express your clear understanding of the piece in a clear, engaging way. Then, you’ll focus on that thesis statement as you continue writing. Here’s an example: “For Whom the Bell Tolls is a story about belonging to a community. The death of any human disturbs the balance in that community. When the bell tolls, it tolls for everyone in the human race.”
  • Discuss how that story relates to larger social, political, religious, or economic concepts.
  • What movement does that literature belong to? Is it romanticism, realism, naturalism, existentialism, or any other? Discuss how well the work fits within that classification.
  • Is there a story within a story? That’s an important concept in literature. If you noticed it, discuss it and you’ll leave your professor impressed.

Now That You Know How to Write a Literary Analysis Thesis, Are You Ready for It?

Of course, you’re ready! The most important thing to know is how to write a thesis statement for a literary analysis. Once you’re done with that part, it will be easy to write the entire paper. Remember: in a literature analysis, you need to observe the characters, style, author’s point of view, structure, theme, setting, and symbolism. Focus on the elements your professor wants you to emphasize. That’s why it’s important to get clear instructions. Otherwise, you’ll end up confused by all elements you should observe and discuss.

It’s important not to confuse the analysis with a book review. When you’re writing a literary analysis, you’re not focused on the emotions you experience while reading the book. Of course, they matter, but they are not the matter of focus.

Even after this detailed guide, the literary analysis assignment may leave you confused. How do you write a literary analysis essay when you don’t have time for it or you don’t understand the book? Keep this in mind: if you get stuck at any point, you can get help at We’re always here to give you the boost you need.

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