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Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

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Dana Linde

on 26 November 2012

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Transcript of Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

How to Write a
Literary Analysis Essay...... The literary analysis essay is NOT a book report where you simply summarize the plot or provide your opinion of a novel. The purpose of a literary analysis is to carefully examine a work of literature or an aspect of the work of literature. Start by developing a thesis statement that indicates a relevant or critical observation made about the text. A thesis statement is not a question! A thesis statement is expressed as a complete sentence and is a single idea. A thesis statement, for a literary analysis essay, will often include the the title of the work and its author. However, if you don't include these items in the thesis, you must make mention of them somewhere in your introduction. Toni Morrison mirrors the fragmentation of her characters' lives through the structure of her novel, Beloved. Then, provide three ways to support the main idea which will be presented in the individual body paragraphs Flashback, stream of consciousness, and shifts in point of view are structural techniques which highlight this character fragmentation. The introduction is the head of the essay; now you're ready for the body. In the body of the essay you will discuss each of the three aspects you introduced to support your thesis statement. A good literary analysis essay contains an explanation of your ideas and evidence from the text that supports those ideas. Textual evidence consists of ......... SUMMARY PARAPHRASE SPECIFIC DETAILS DIRECT QUOTATIONS A good body paragraph will consist of a topic sentence with several of these supporting details. The topic sentence is the first sentence of the paragraph. It ties the details of your paragraph to your thesis statement and it ties the details of the paragraph together. The topic sentences for each body paragraph come from the aspects you introduced in your introduction. So your first body paragraph will deal with flashback, your second with stream of consciousness, and your third will address shifts in point of view. Here is an example of a body paragraph which opens with a topic sentence followed by supporting details. The reader can identify with the uniformity Sammy describes because all have been in a chain store at one time or another. The fluorescent light is as blandly cool as the "checkerboard green-and-cream tile floor" (486). The "usual traffic in the store moves in one direction" (except for the swim suited girls, who move against it), and everything is neatly organized and categorized in tidy aisles. The dehumanizing routine of this environment is suggested by Sammy's offhand references to the typical shoppers as "sheep," "house slaves," and "pigs." These regular customers seem to walk through the store in a stupor; as Sammy tells the reader, not even dynamite could move them out of their routine (485). Don't forget....if you use the exact words from the text- not a paraphrase- you MUST use quotation marks and provide page numbers!!!!! Sammy's descriptions of the A&P present a setting that is ugly, monotonous, and rigidly regulated. Now, let's look at the remainder of the paragraph filled with supporting details to prove this topic sentence. Your literary analysis essay should include a conclusion that lets readers know they have come to the end of your paper. Do NOT introduce a new topic in your conclusion!!! Your concluding paragraph should restate the thesis in different words, summarize the main points you have made, and perhaps make a relevant comment about the literary work you are analyzing- but from a different perspective. It is sometimes helpful to think of the conclusion as a reversal of your introduction. A paraphrase is when you need the details of the original but not necessarily the words of the original. Paraphrase means to put someone else's words into your own words. ORIGINAL: "I was twelve and in junior high school and something happened that we didn't have a name for, but it was nonetheless like a lion, and roaring, roaring that way that biggest things do." PARAPHRASE: Early in the story, the narrator tells the reader that when he turned twelve and started junior high school, life changed in a significant way that he and his friends couldn't quite find a name for. Various types of details from the text will lend concrete support to the development of the central idea of your literary analysis essay. A summary is when information is presented in a condensed, concise form. Quotations can support the ideas you are trying to develop to make your points clearer and more convincing. As with all textual evidence, make sure you explain how the quotation is relevant--let the reader know what you make of the quotation you cite. On your mark, get set, let's WRITE . Of course, that will be after you start with something to attract the attention of your reader!
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