Literary Analysis Essay

The Purpose of a Literary Analysis: A literary analysis is not merely a summary of a literary
work. Instead, it is an argument about the work that expresses a writer’s personal
perspective, interpretation, judgment, or critical evaluation of the work. This is
accomplished by examining the literary devices, word choices, or writing structures the author
uses within the work. The purpose of a literary analysis is to demonstrate why the author used
specific ideas, word choices, or writing structures to convey his or her message.
Theme: What is the major idea or theme of the work? How does the author relay this theme? Is
there a greater meaning to the details given? How do the characters’ moods affect the theme?
Are there repeating patterns or symbols? What does the title say about the theme?
Thesis: a statement that provides the subject and overall opinion of your essay. For a
literary analysis your major thesis must
(1) relate to the theme of the work and
(2) suggest how this theme is revealed by the author. This is what you will spend the
essay proving. A good thesis may also suggest the organization of the paper.
Example: Through Paul’s experience behind the lines, at a Russian prisoner of war
camp, and especially under bombardment in the trenches, Erich Maria Remarque realistically
shows how war dehumanizes a man.
Think about what the author is trying to say. Why is this important? When viewing this work
as a piece of art, what might a writer’s response be? What might a writer’s reactions be to the
ideas presented in the work? Are these ideas truthful or relevant to today and how? If a writer
were asked what they thought of this work how might they respond? What points might a writer

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