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Tips on Writing Literary Analysis Essays

If you ask students to write a literary analysis, there are a number of things you will need to ensure they know. Students can find literary analysis assignments difficult if they are not familiar with these things.

Firstly, it is important the student knows what is meant by a literary analysis i.e. what this type of assignment is and what it entails.  

Definition of a Literary Analysis

Essentially, an essay involving literary analysis requires the writer to try to understand and evaluate the work of a given author. This can be just one work or a whole series of works. Critiquing a literary piece means analyzing, evaluating, describing, and/or interpreting a particular work or the entire works of an author.

Literary Analyses –Different Types 

  • Analysis of Character: A character analysis is about defining the qualities of one or more characters in terms of how they behave or react in certain conditions or how they try to shape or influence their particular circumstances or environments. Put another way, it is the writer’s task to attempt to explain how and/or why different characters think, act, or behave in certain ways. At times, it can help to compare and/or contrast two different characters, but focusing on one of the characters can provide a fuller analysis for some types of essay, especially the shorter type.
  • Analysis from the Author’s Point of View (POV): In the case of a POV analysis, the writer’s task is to explore why an author decided to take the point of view they have taken, and to show how this viewpoint impacts the way the reader and/or writer perceives the work.
  • Analysis of Setting: In this type of analysis, it is the writer’s job toexplore why and how the characters in a particular work are affected by the place and time in which the story is set. Very often, the reader and writer may want to think of the setting in another type of analysis, e.g., by extending a character analysis.  
    • Analysis of Work Theme: In this type of analysis, the writer will need to work through any thoughts, beliefs, opinions, or concepts expressed by the author. A common (and also very helpful) approach is to think about the theme when evaluation or analyzing other parts of a literary work rather than simply by itself. A work’s theme is, in essence, the central message, observation or insight put forward by the author.

It is possible to overestimate how important theme is in a literary piece. A fictional work involves much more than its theme. The theme, however, enables the author to put order on or control his or her perceptions of life.

  • Analysis of Work Structure: In this type of analysis, the writer should try to show how the way a work is organized can influence or be influenced by the work’s theme or plot.
  • Analysis of Work Imagery and Symbolism: Here, the writer’s task is to demonstrate why the author decided to use a single (or more than one) recurring and/or dominant image or symbol in their work. 
  • Analysis of the Style Used in a Work: With this type of analysis, the writer generally attempts to demonstrate why and how an author’s uses a specific choice of words, rhythm or sound to get their ideas across. In a work of prose, the reader and writer may examine an important passage with a view to analyzing its grammar, diction, sound, rhythm, and length of sentences.  



One of the first things you need to do in academic writing is choosing a topic. This is particularly difficult in literature classes. You will notice that almost every topic has been explored hundreds of times before you. As a result, you do not seem to be in a position to say something brand new. However, you can review the list of our recommended literature topics and look for literature inspiration here. Try to expand on or modify these recommendations to produce an outstanding essay and earn the highest grade. 

  • The Old and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway: the work remains one of the most fascinating and inspiring books ever read during school years. It captures the hearts and minds of its readers. Try to find something new in the message conveyed by the author. Try to link this message to your personal experiences.
  • The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde. This is a masterpiece of English literature. It combines sarcasm, humor, satire, and the reality of everyday issues. You can definitely explore its meaning in detail, against the cultural and historical context in which it was written.
  • Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche. No matter what book written by Nietzsche you decide to explore, you will stand out against the crowd of your fellow students. Every book is unique. Every book is desirable. Try to look deeper beyond the words and connect them into a cohesive message for the society in the 21st century.
  • The New Millennium and Its Literature. See what the current literature says about the world. What are the latest stories? How do they present the world of the new millennium? What is there that you think is missing? How could contemporary authors improve the style of writing?
  • E-books in the 21st century. How do they change the literary landscape?
  • I have a Dream by Martin Luther King. Explore the literary style and features of the best speech written by a historically prominent, unforgettable leader.
  • The most talented writers of the 20th century – who are they? How are they similar and different? What are the reasons for the humanity to believe in their prominence?
  • How do technologies change the reading and writing habits of people? Do you think that technologies have changed the messages sent by contemporary authors to society?
  • Language and its evolution in literature. How has the language of literary works changed during the 20th-21st centuries? Are these changes visible and pronounced?
  • How can a person become a writer? Is there anything that can make a person popular among thousands of other authors in the new millennium? 

 Free Literature Analysis PDF Sample: Everyday Use

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