The main purpose in writing a literary analysis is not to write a book review. Your objective is to translate your interpretation of the literature into a cogent literary analysis essay. A literary analysis will follow the assigned required format, but also bear in mind these general guidelines:
1. Write in the present tense, as if the story is unfolding as you write.
2. Use the third person perspective, unless your instructor wants a more informal tone. The idea of an analysis usually requires an analytical, not personal, viewpoint.
3. Do not retell the story as you would in a book review. Instead, develop a thesis on the meaning the characters' actions or motivations. Then, use examples in the literature to support your thesis.
Similar to a book summary, you may use occurrences in the story as the sources to support your thesis. For example, if writing a literary analysis of "The Telltale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe, you might make the assertion that the narrator is insane. You can then use the fact that the narrator said he could hear "all things in the heaven and in the earth" to help support your claim.
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The terms used for a literary analysis essay consist of the building blocks of the story. You should use the terms below as the elements upon which your critical analysis is based.
- Point of view
- Figurative language
The use of these terms will create the proper analytical posture your instructor is looking for, and demonstrates your understanding of both the literature, and the literary analysis technique.
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