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Learn the Basics of a Literary Analysis Essay
There are a lot of misconceptions that students have regarding essay writing, and considering literary analysis a useless exercise is certainly one of the major misconceptions. Literary analysis not only helps a student understand the underlying message that the piece of literature holds but it also helps him/her sharpen his/her writing skills and critical thinking abilities.
Literary analysis is a crucial part of a curriculum revolving around the study of literature, and if you are good at writing a literary analysis, congratulations! You stand a better chance of achieving great feats in your academics. But the problem is that most of the students do not really know how to start a literary analysis essay in the first place.
The good news is that you are about to learn how to draft a compelling literary analysis essay. But first, you need to learn what a literary analysis is. Well, as the name suggests, it's an analysis of a literature piece where your objective is to carefully evaluate the characters in the piece, their actions, the plot, the theme and the symbolism. It is way different than just a plot summary, and by the end of the blog, you will understand why it is so.
Let’s Begin with How to Write an Effective Literary Analysis Essay
Firstly, you need to understand that it’s an essay, so there’s a limited word count for that. And for those who don’t remember the basics of essay writing, it is still a five-paragraph long assignment containing an impressive introduction, an insightful body part (3 paragraphs) and a compelling conclusion. There are some additional components of the essay as well, but these three are the major blocks of the essay that you need to keep in mind. Here’s how you should approach your literary analysis essay.
- Go through the literature carefully
It's pretty basic. When you are assigned with a particular piece of literature or you pick one for your essay (when you have the liberty to choose the topic on your own), this should be the first step you should take. There might be a lot of summary of the piece that you could access on the internet, but it is always recommended that you should go through the material and not rely on the online sources in this particular matter. Remember, there is no alternate to the original content.
- Take notes and review the literary terms as you go through the content
The piece of literature can be a 500-word long short story or a 500-page long novel. So it is not possible for normal human beings to remember all the significant details of the content. However, in literary analysis, you need to stress on even the smallest yet significant details of the literature piece. Taking notes as you go on exploring the content can help you save some crucial time when you will be critically analyzing the piece. Also, take note of the literary terms as you progress through the piece.
For instance, if you are writing the literary analysis on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, you can understand that the "chamber of secrets" plays a crucial role in the story. So keep taking notes about the "chamber" as you read the novel. There are high chances that the "chamber" signifies something more than just a mere room. Note the page numbers as well since they will allow you to refer to the original content as well as understand the context of the mentioned statement.
- Get a better understanding of the assigned task
Before you start writing pages on how you conceive the whole piece of literature, you need to understand what kind of task you are assigned with. Students are usually asked to write literary analysis essay in two different ways. In the first type of essay, you are asked to conduct an analysis on your own which is your original work and doesn’t use any additional sources to support your argument.
In the second type of analysis essay, you are asked to conduct the research on your own, but you will require a separate analysis from an expert who possesses a considerable amount of knowledge in the particular field, to support the claims that you made in your essay. It would be embarrassing if you get to know that you needlessly spent hours behind the analysis while an expert analysis was all that you needed.
- The introduction and the thesis
Start your essay with an impressive introduction which should be able to grab the eye balls of the readers. As you might be aware, the essays are usually first read by the professors for evaluation, and since the professor usually has a number of essays to go through, it is absolutely necessary for you to impress your professor with your essay from the very beginning. If your essay is not impressive enough, the reader may not even read the whole essay.
The best way to start your essay is by throwing a question at the reader which you shall be answering throughout the essay. In fact, it is quite effective when you are not using the help of any outside sources to write the literary analysis. In case, you are using any outside research, opening with a shocking quote from the expert can be an impressive way to start the essay.
As you move towards the end of the paragraph (introduction), you need to wrap it up with a clear and precise thesis statement. For those who aren't aware of thesis statement, it is a single sentence that elucidates the whole idea of the arguments you want to establish through the essay. An appropriate thesis statement allows you to draft your analysis essay with more ease.
- Analyze the literary elements
Once you finish writing the introduction along with a thesis statement, it is time to go back to the notes that you have made while reading the particular piece of content. While you are at it, review all the observations you have made about the literary elements such as the plot, theme, characters, symbols, etc. In the body part, you need to break down the whole literature by evaluating those literary devices to understand what significance these elements hold. You can choose one single element for your analysis and justify your argument with solid evidence through the three paragraphs of the body part.
While an impressive introduction allows you to grab the attention of the reader, ending the essay with a compelling conclusion can also help you to leave a positive impression on the reader. When you are down to write the conclusion, make sure you have summed up your primary ideas along with the thesis in the particular paragraph. You can also include a few key findings of your analysis in conclusion.
It will be a good idea to conclude the essay by connecting the opening line with the closing line. It is generally used by expert writers as a concluding strategy. You can always try and experiment with these small things in your essay, but you need to keep the word limits in your mind as well.
You can take these useful tips into consideration and start preparing your own literary analysis essay. If you are looking for some reference, here’s a tiny piece of analysis essay that is written on the theme of the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. The movie is a lot different from the book with the same title, but this analysis will give you a brief idea of how a literary analysis essay can be drafted on a particular piece.
An analysis essay on “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (the movie)
We often look for happiness in the most difficult places while most of the time it remains right in front of us. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” draws the same message while it focuses on the adventures of Walter Mitty who is on the mission to find the perfect photograph for the final print issue. The protagonist of the movie, Walter Mitty is an ordinary guy who must find his own self and restore his dignity while the entire whole is collapsing. Here the desire of human being to escape the reality to attain the self of dignity has been portrayed quite beautifully through the character of Walter Mitty.
Every man goes through the highs and lows in his life, and that's a part of the life, but it often becomes necessary for people to escape the reality and surrender to the imaginary world to understand the quintessence of life. Mr Mitty here is an asset manager who is responsible for the photos that are store in the archive of the “Life” magazine. Although his job is in danger as the whole organization is transitioning into a digital platform, replacing the traditional print format. As the negative for the final print of the issue goes missing, it becomes Mitty’s duty to find the negative as well as his dignity which has been long lost from his life.
As the story progresses, we get to see how the daydreaming person starts to experience the adventures in real life. The quest to find the negative, he believes he has lost, turns into a journey of self-discovery. As he travels from one place to another trying to find the photographer who can tell him where to find the copy of the image, he learns to let go of his inhibitions and live the adventures which he has only dreamt of in his imagination. Finally, when he finally finds the photographer, he discovers that the photograph was with him all this while and he never even had thought to look for it in his wallet.
Here, the photograph has been used as a metaphor for the lost dignity of Mitty which he starts to recover as the story progresses. It has been quite proficiently scripted by the screenplay writers how a person regains his confidence and self-identity as he goes on a life-changing experience. It has also been depicted that the missing dignity was always with Mitty all the time, but it required him to go through the adventures to discover the photo which actually indicated his dignity.
The movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is a journey of self-discovery. The plot complements the theme of the screenplay quite effortlessly. The character of Walter Mitty signifies the average men in the society and quite beautifully portrays the challenges they face. The story also explores the desires of the average men through Mitty’s daydreaming sequences, and it has also been well-established that what we seek in the most difficult places often stays right there with us the entire time.
An analysis essay on a movie can be a bit different from the analysis essay done on a piece of literature. However, the structure of the essay remains quite the same. So you won’t have any problem deriving the idea of literary analysis essay by going through the aforementioned example as it covers almost every aspect of a literary analysis essay.
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