What Is a Literary Analysis Essay: Tips, Examples and Topics

How to Write
Dec 07, 2022 | 8 Minutes

When you are assigned academic essays on literature, you might wonder what a literary analysis essay is. As a rule, students are worried about a literary analysis essay, when they do not know where to start and where to find the required materials to prove the literary analysis essay thesis. In such a case, it is natural to be worried about the college literary analysis essay regardless of its complexity since it is decisive for the overall academic performance in the subject.

What Is a Literary Analysis Essay Definition?

It is a type of essay writing that requires one to provide detailed and clear characteristics and features of a specific literary work, i.e. a novel, an article, a narrative, a fiction book, a romantic story, a short story, etc.

What Is a Literary Analysis Essay
  • First of all, when reading through a literary analysis essay rubric, it is important to realize that you need to carefully read the literary work before writing an essay on it. However, reading the literary work just once is not the most challenging thing – what can be even worse is that you will need to read the literary work more than once in case it is confusing or difficult to understand.
  • Second, you need to care about the amount of time you devote to literary analysis writing and former reading. A literary analysis essay should include a brief summary of the literary work alongside analysis (critique) and evaluation.

What is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay?

When planning the writing process and looking through a literary analysis essay template, you need to question yourself, “What is the purpose of a literary analysis essay?” The core purpose is to demonstrate you have closely read the literary work and have also examined and evaluated the main ideas of the book in depth.

You need to be aware that the whole analysis process should be broken down into smaller sections (short-term goals) that can be achieved within short periods of time. Breaking up the analysis into short stages will ensure that you work on the paper consistently. Writing a literary analysis essay should comprise of the following steps:

  • read the assigned piece of literature and provide its brief overview;
  • write down a list of all sources that you plan to use for support and documentation of your ideas;
  • demonstrate your fluency and logical coherence of academic writing;
  • apply the available technological tools for better analysis and critique of the literary work.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

To make sure you develop your ideas and arguments without thinking long and to ensure you do not overlook to mention important information or facts about your assigned or chosen literary work, you need to devise a literary analysis essay outline. Even though some students claim that writing an outline takes much time, it actually saves your time during the actual process of writing and development of essay ideas since you already have a backbone for the essay you will write.

When writing an outline, you need to carefully formulate the thesis statement in detail. If you have no clear idea of what a strong thesis should be like, you can look through a literary analysis essay example found somewhere online. A thesis statement is a must in a literary essay just like in the other essay types. It has to convey the central idea of your paper and put forward a claim you intend to communicate across. Moreover, the essay’s objective should be clear from the thesis.

As a rule, a thesis statement is written at the end of the introductory paragraph. The very introduction should present background information on the piece of literary work. It should also contain a hook, which grabs readers’ attention. Therefore, feel free to include a controversial fact, a rhetorical question, a provocative question, an anecdote, or some surprising or impressive statement.

The main body should consist of body paragraphs, where you discuss specific ideas related to the essay question. Normally, you devote one paragraph to a single idea. In the body paragraphs, you need to explain the ideas properly. If you do not know how to properly support your facts with evidence, you can look through a sample literary analysis essay found online. You can use direct quotes or paraphrases. Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence, which includes the main idea/ message you intend to discuss and critique.

When composing the main body, make sure to fill it in with summaries, examples, illustrations, interpretations, details, and specific quotations from the literary text, critique, and analysis.

A literary analysis essay conclusion should make the paper logically complete. With the help of the conclusion, you need to bring into the paper a sense of unity and completeness. Your readers should get the signal that the essay is finished and that you have conveyed a specific thought.

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay: Writing Prompts

To be 100% sure that you do everything right, you need to carefully read the guidelines on how to write a literary analysis essay. Our company’s professionals have provided the following tips for writing:

  1. Make sure you provide brief background information in the introduction and further develop and elaborate the ideas in the body paragraphs.
  2. Make sure you focus on specific ideas, symbols, settings, characters, motifs, and topics within the literary work.
  3. Make sure the body paragraphs are structured and developed according to the central idea conveyed in the thesis statement.
  4. Make sure you adhere to one logical sequence of events.
  5. Use expert opinion in order to make your arguments stronger and more plausible.
  6. Make sure your paper is flawless in terms of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting.
  7. Use transitions between ideas and paragraphs to ensure the smooth flow of ideas.
  8. Present a well-developed conclusion that provides a comprehensive summation of the discussion and analysis.

Read more about How to Write a Literary Analysis Step-by-Step Guide

Outstanding Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Read on to get some fresh and creative ideas on brilliant literary analysis essay topics in our blog article. They deal with literary works of different epochs. Check them out and choose the most suitable for yourself.

Literary Analysis Essay on Shakespearean Works

If you study literature, you must probably deal with Shakespeare’s works, at least his sonnets and the most prominent larger works, such as Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, as well as Romeo and Juliet. Even though the Internet bursts with essay examples on Shakespeare’s works, the ideas found there are most probably not new at all. Therefore, we have decided to provide you with some fresh ideas and notions to help you successfully pass your paper.

Start with analyzing Romeo and Juliet and pay attention to the kind of society presented there. What are the relations between people? Why is there so much miscommunication? Do you agree that Shakespeare introduced the fundamentals for depicting lovers in books and movies? Or were there actually some predecessors who inspired Shakespeare to create such work on his own? What role does fate play in Shakespeare’s works?

Do you personally believe in fate? What characteristics do the main characters possess? What about the depiction of time and duration of events throughout the story? What does Shakespeare want to tell people about time by providing such a short timespan for so many events?

This is an example of what questions you should ask yourself when analyzing the works of Shakespeare. If you have some other piece of his work to analyze, that is to say, Hamlet or Macbeth, pay attention to similar aspects.

Essays on Ancient Greek Literature

There are people who find literature boring, especially the classics and literature of the Middle Ages. Still, most people are fond of mythology and ancient Greek literature. Even though this is one of the oldest examples of literature that people read now, it still maintains the interest of many people. There is definitely some mystery around it and when you delve deeper you will notice some recurring plots and storylines even in the modern works that were taken from the Ancient Greeks. The most prominent works for analysis are Sophocles’ Antigone and Plato’s The Republic.

Literary Analysis Essays on Race and Discrimination

This subject is still one of the most controversial and widely discussed even nowadays. Many authors choose this topic as the central one in their books. If you would also like to focus on this subject in your essay, make sure to read such books as To Kill a Mockingbird, Waiting for the Barbarians, Huckleberry Finn, Heart of Darkness, etc.

Literary Analysis Essay on Women’s Topics

Many works are dedicated to investigating the role of gender in society. Here one may find books about the equality between men and women, about difficulties that women face, about discrimination against women in society, as well as about the fight for women’s rights. To investigate this topic better and research how women’s rights were postulated in different epochs, please find the following books for reading: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, The Scarlet Letter, Everyday Use, A Rose for Emily, The Color Purple.

A Rose for Emily Literary Analysis

Literary Analysis Essay on Books from the 19th and 20th Centuries

Here the literary work is bright with different ideas, so you can take any book and focus on a single aspect that you think is worth consideration. Check out the following books:

  • Stories about Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle);

  • The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald);

  • Lord of the Flies (Golding);

  • Catcher in the Rye (Salinger);

  • Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck);

  • Animal Farm (Orwell).

List of Other Good Topics Related to Literature

  1. Explain the changes in your favorite character throughout the story.
  2. Investigate the importance of settings and their descriptions in Jane Eyre.
  3. Analyze the importance of irony in Mark Twain’s short stories.
  4. The importance of allegory in Animal Farm. How can an author convey the main message with the help of literary devices?
  5. The evolution of Hemingway’s stories. What are the similarities and differences between 2-3 of them (of your choice)?
  6. The importance of being aware of the historical and cultural context of the stories in the Decameron.
  7. Female characters in The Great Gatsby. Similarities and differences.
  8. The use of imagery in Fitzgerald’s stories.
  9. The depiction of the contrast between the rich and the poor in The Great Gatsby.
  1. Symbolism in The Great Gatsby. Provide specific examples from the text.
  2. How is the concept of the American Dream depicted throughout the story of The Great Gatsby? Provide specific examples from the book.
  3. What is the symbolism behind the green light behind Daisy’s window?
  4. The focus on alcoholic drinks in The Great Gatsby.
  5. What are the role, meanings, and symbols of time in The Great Gatsby novel?
  6. The role of secondary characters in the novel Fitzgerald.
  7. Investigate the central themes of the novel.
  8. Compare the book with the movie.
  9. Provide an in-depth literary analysis of Frankenstein.
  10. The topic of vampirism in literature.
  11. What atmosphere was intended to convey when authors decided to focus on vampire stories?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics on Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Literary Analysis Essay about Dracula by Bram Stoker

  1. What is the purpose of keeping the main character in the shadow for such a long time? What effect did the author intend to convey?
  2. Investigate the relation between the content of the story and its structure.
  3. What is the overall impression of the story as you read it?
  4. The role of setting and details in the story.
  5. What literary devices does the author use that help to communicate the central idea across?
  6. Investigate the core detective elements in the story.
  7. Provide examples and illustrations of how the gothic atmosphere is depicted.
  8. The role of a female character in Dracula when it comes to the representation of good and evil.
  9. Investigate the history behind writing Dracula.
  10. What Victorian-literature traits can you find out in Dracula?

Ideas for a Literary Analysis Essay on Beowulf

  1. Explore reality and myth and how they interact within this story.
  2. The use of allusions in Beowulf. What is their role? What is the intention?
  3. Explore the specifics of language in this literary work.
  4. Representation of the Nordic values and morality in the work.
  5. Compare and contrast Beowulf to one of your favorite modern heroes.

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