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Literary Analysis

Sep 5, 2022

Literature can be any written piece of work generally, but it especially is an artistic or intellectual work of writing.   

Literature conveys sacred knowledge, teaches moral and social lessons, announces new ideas, records revolutions, tests the limits of cultural values, and shows us our best and worst selves.  

A literary analysis expresses an interpretation or critical evaluation of a novel, short story, poem, or play.   

Analysis of a literary text is a skill in which the elements that constitute a whole unit are inspected.   

The unit can be a poem, a short story, an essay, a novel, an advertisement, artwork, or a film.  


Elements of a Literary Analysis  

  • Theme – The message/es presented throughout a literary work.   
  • Motifs – Repeated patterns in the story, particularly the symbolic.   
  • Plot – The arrangement of events; consider chronology or use of flashback/flashforward.   
  • Setting – The time and place of the story. Three types of settings are historical, atmospheric, and physical.  
  • Character – It can be any person, animal, being or creature in a story. Writers use characters to perform the actions and deliver dialogues that help the story to progress along a plot line. Examples: antagonist, protagonist. 
  • Characterization – It is the process used by the writer to develop their characters throughout the story. The author uses details to teach us about a character. Characterization can be of two types: direct and indirect.   
  • Point of view – The vantage point from which the story is told. Who is the narrator? There are three points of view from which a story could be told; they are first person, second person, and third person.   
  • Diction – It refers to the choice of words and phrasing in any piece of spoken or written text. Diction can be of two types: formal and informal.   
  • Denotation – Dictionary definition of a word. Sometimes there can be multiple definitions of the same word. Consider the way the word is used in context to the story. 
  • Connotation – Feelings and images associated with a word or phrase.   
  • Tone – It is the author’s attitude towards the subject they are writing about.   
  • Mood – It is the atmosphere of the story. The reader determines the feel of the story.  

Writing an Analysis:  

  • Decide the author’s main idea. Sum up the author’s theme (main idea) in a single sentence. Use that information to create a thesis statement.   
  • Determine which elements (point of view, characters, plot, etc.) seem important and supportive of your thesis statement.   
  • Make an outline that includes your thesis and main ideas.   
  • Write an introduction: Include the full name of the literary work and author and the author’s purpose (your thesis).   
  • Write the paper: Each body paragraph can address one aspect (character, plot, etc.) of the work being analyzed. The topic sentence of each paragraph should state the aspect. Then give support, citing specific examples.   
  • Draw a conclusion: In the concluding paragraph, give your opinion of how successful the author has been in achieving his purpose. Include a summary of the elements discussed in your paper.  


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