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Writing a Literary Analysis

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Bet Golson

on 9 September 2013

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Transcript of Writing a Literary Analysis

"Leiningen Versus the Ants"
Purpose- to provide a clear, detailed explanation of how the author uses literary elements to shape the piece
Analyze Your Story
Find a Focus and Develop a Thesis
Decide which element(s) will serve as the focus of your analysis. Next, draft a preliminary thesis, which identifies these elements and states your main idea.
Now you know how to write a basic five-paragraph essay
Let's practice!
Writing a Literary Analysis
Read and Respond
1. Form opinions

2. Judge the characters and plot

Read and Respond
3. Question things

4. Predict

Audience- they've already read the story, so don't retell it. Persuade them to see your point.
Tone- maintain a formal attitude by writing in third person (he, she, and they) and avoiding contractions and colloquialisms
What conflicts do the characters face?

Does the time and place cause a conflict or set a mood?
•What is the main character like? Motivations?

•Does he change throughout the story? How and why?

•How are his qualities revealed?

Who is speaking?

How does it affect your response?

Where or how does the author hint throughout the story?
Does the speaker say anything (verbal) or do anything (situational) that differ from your expectations?

Do you know more than the character at any point?

What important idea is revealed?

How is the theme developed?

1. Plot- the driving force behind the story. The characters face conflicts both internally and externally. The climax is the point in which they are resolved.
2. Setting- where and when the story occurs. It provides important background information for understanding people and events.
3. Characters- the individuals in a story. Characterization is how their qualities are revealed either directly (description) or indirectly (dialogue).
4. Point of view- the angle from which the story is told. It may shift from first to third person.
5. Foreshadowing- a hint or suggestion of upcoming events.
6. Irony- a surprising contrast between appearance or expectation and reality., the exact opposite of its literal meaning. Whether humorous or bitter, it always makes us think.
7. Theme- often left for the reader to discover. The theme is an important idea about life or human nature.
"What about the story is confusing?"
"What will happen next?"
"How do I feel about the story"
Make the elements your own!
"How do I feel about the characters, events, and situations in the story?"
Step 1:

Recall what went through your mind after you first read the story.
Ex. The main character is very confident...almost to a flaw.
Step 2

Review your answers to the analysis
questions about story elements
Ex. The most interesting information in my answers concerns the main character.
Step 3

Compare your responses. They will likely support your overall reaction.
Ex. Since my first reaction was to the main character and I have a lot of notes about him, I'll focus on characterization.
Step 4

Decide what you want to say about the element or elements you find most important. These thoughts will be your main idea or thesis.
Ex. The author's use of characterization shows how the main character displays examples of humanism throughout the story.
Step 5

Form your thesis by joining the literary element(s) with your main idea about them. Include the title, author, and literary element(s) in your sentence.
Ex. In the short story "Leiningen Versus the
Ants," Carl Stephenson depicts elements of humanism in his main character's battle to
outwit an "act of God."
Gather Support
Key Points Details Elaboration

Ask questions about the thesis.

Set up contrasts and freewrite about them.
Ex. At the beginning, the character was.... In the middle.... In the end....
Ex. What has to be in this essay to
reflect the thesis?

Map out your findings as they develop through the story.

When discussing events in a short story, always use the literary present tense. That is, always refer to the events as if they are presently happening.

You can include supporting details using three methods.
restating in your own words
"He couldn't die like that! And something outside him seemed to drag him to his feet," (pp.27).
Direct Quotations:
using the exact words from the story
"The human brain needs only to become fully aware of its powers to conquer even the elements," (p.13).
condense the main points of a story
"As the war between his brain and the "act of God" reached its climax, the very shadow of annihilation began to pale to Leiningen, who now felt like a champion in a new Olympic game...determined to emerge a victor."
Avoid Plagiarism!
Cite, Cite, Cite!
At least two introductory sentences + Thesis
Introductory Paragraph
Use an observation, question, or quotation related to your thesis to describe a connection you made to the story and grasp your reader's attention.
Create a hook!
State your first key point with support and elaboration.
Develop a paragraph for each of your other key points. Arrange them in a logical sense.
Support each point by quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing details from the story. Elaborate by explaining how the details connect to the points.
Leave your readers with something to remember. Close with a reiteration of your thesis and a summary of your main ideas.
Got all that?
No worries! All of the information is in your grammar book!
As you Read:
1. Watch for vocabulary words!
2. Think about questions on the Study Guide.
3. Think about possible MI projects.
Man vs Man
Leiningen vs the Ants
(Group vs Group)
*A plantation in Brazil
How are their problems resolved?
"The human brain needs only to become fully aware of its powers to conquer even the elements," (p.13).
Strange happenings or events that are least expected can be termed as coincidences but, when the exact opposite of what was being expected occurs or takes place, it is termed as ironic.

Two or more things occurring by chance.
8. Suspense-
a state or condition of mental uncertainty or excitement, as in awaiting a decision or outcome.

Do you feel apprehensive or anxious at any point during the story?
A comparison using like or as
A comparison to something that is not normally applicable
Step 1: Choose Your story
Full transcript