Our writers are ready to help! Get 15% OFF your first paper

Hire our writerHire writer

Literary Analysis Essay

A literary analysis essay studies and sometimes assesses a piece of literature. As with any analysis, you must break down the subject into its constituent elements. Examining the various aspects of a work of literature is not a goal in and of itself but rather a means to fully understand and interpret the work as a whole. An analysis of a poem, for example, can focus on the various kinds of imagery in the poem or the correlation between the work's structure and content.

Stage 1: Study the text and spot literary devices

The process of literary analysis begins with a close reading of the material. You should concentrate on the work while reading. That means eliminating any distractions and committing to the task at hand for a set amount of time.

It is also key that you do not read quickly. While skimming through texts can be a valuable talent, it is not relevant in literary analysis at this step. Literary analysis is the process of identifying different elements in a work of literature. There are several key aspects on which you can focus your analysis to get started.

A list of topics

Take notes while you read the text on any literary aspects or devices that you notice along the way. You should capture your thoughts and the elements of the text to which they correspond, whether you highlight the text, use index tabs to mark pages and paragraphs or annotate your observations in a notebook.

These annotations should help you remember whatever portions of the story piqued your interest later on when writing this essay. The chosen topic should always be centered on the author's intent as interpreted by you. When reading the text for a literary analysis, here are some ideas to think about:

  • Characters: Individuals who are a part of the story. The protagonist is the work's lead character (usually the good guy), and the antagonist is his/her opponent (usually the villain).
  • Setting: The work's overall context, such as the political and social environment in which it was written or the author's own background. Internal context and the narrator's comments can also be included.
  • Theme: A repeating topic or message in work, usually a remark on greater society's cultural issues.
  • Plot: A series of events in which each one influences the next through the cause-and-effect principle.
  • Imagery: Descriptive or metaphorical language is used to develop a conceptual image of the plot, characters, and setting in the reader's imagination.
  • Metaphor: A figure of speech in which two dissimilar objects are compared for dramatic or aesthetic effect.
  • Narrator: The individual who narrates the story. They can be a character in the story, but they can also be omniscient and detached from the plot.
  • Point of view: This literary device is used to express the viewpoint or perspective from which a story is narrated.

Stage 2: Choose your thesis

Think of your thesis statement as the foundation of a building. If the foundation is fragile and badly constructed, the building will surely collapse. The thesis statement announces the critical argument you want to make and support during the course of your work.

It serves as a guide for the rest of the essay, letting the reader know what to expect. It should be included anywhere in your essay`s introduction—many people choose to include it as the last sentence of their introduction, which is great. Effective thesis statements should elicit thought and read well. Your thesis needs to answer two questions: what? and why?

  • What point do you want to make regarding the text?
  • Why is it important to the reader?


If your essay has a prompt, your thesis must respond to it. For instance:

Essay prompt example

✔️ How does the author introduce the main character in "The Scarlet Letter"?

You should build your thesis statement as a response to this question—not just a simple yes or no, but a detailed explanation:

Thesis statement example

✔️ As Hawthorne introduces the character Pearl, who symbolizes the supposed threat of female sexuality in a traditionalist society, the author's use of symbolism in The Scarlet Letter declines and eventually disappears.

Use textual evidence

Your essay will build a case to support your thesis statement using textual proof—specific elements of the text that prove your argument. To support your ideas, you should quote this evidence.

Before you begin writing, you might want to go over the material and identify applicable quotes. You will not be able to use everything you find, but obtaining written proof early on will help you build your arguments and assess whether they are compelling.

It is important to remember that you can edit your thesis statement during the creative process, so it does not have to be flawless at this point. The goal is to keep you concentrated on the text as you study it.

Stage 3: Write an introduction and a title

You will need two components to open your literary analysis essay: a strong title and an introduction.


Choose a particular topic. The topic should be an analysis of a particular aspect of a literary text, such as racism in “East of Eden” or foreshadowing in “Macbeth.” The whole essay is set up by your introduction. In the first sentence, mention the title and author of the work of literature you are studying. Make it obvious what you are looking at in the essay. Prepare the reader for the analysis, but leave the actual analysis to the body.

In the last sentence(s) of the introduction, write your thesis statement.

Example introduction for a literary analysis essay

Amazing technological breakthroughs like the artificial satellite and the hydrogen bomb, terrifying political maneuvering fueled by America's feeling of control and the Cold War, and ongoing social conflicts like racial discrimination were all witnessed by twentieth-century Americans. Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles was definitely affected by these technological, political, and social events. (The first sentence of the introduction begins by explaining the context surrounding the book.)

Despite the novel's treatment of a wide range of social and political issues, which are frequently weirdly juxtaposed, a clear plotline unfolds on the relationship between prosperous civilizations, living in peace with the environment, and cautious technological management. (The thesis goes against popular belief and summarizes the major argument that will be presented in the essay.)

This essay will focus on the second chapter, "Ylla," which portrays a normal Martian couple's lifestyle in a way that defies the benchmark for living in sync with nature and technology. (The last sentence informs the reader about what to expect from the next paragraphs of the essay.)


The title should make it apparent what your essay will be about. It should include the author's name and/or the title of the literary work being discussed in the essay, as well as an idea of the essay's topic. Giving your essay a "working title" will help you remember your focus (thesis) as you outline the essay.

Example title for a literary analysis essay

Duality of guilt in "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare.

Stage 4: Write the body of your analysis essay

The body should include your arguments as well as the textual proof that backs them up.

Topic Sentence

It is usually the opening sentence of each body paragraph and informs the reader of the paragraph's primary argument. It should be intriguing and connect each part of the essay.


A body paragraph analysis is used to state and strengthen your point. When studying a text, for example, a student can offer their interpretation of why the writer included a certain character or metaphor.

Wrap-Up Sentence

Each body paragraph should end with a final sentence that explains how the knowledge offered in the paragraph contributes to the essay's overarching purpose.

Stage 5: Write the conclusion

Include a quick overview of the essay's main ideas, but do not just restate what you said in the essay. Tell your reader how the arguments you presented, as well as the evidence and examples you provided, all fit together.

Rephrase your thesis

A literature essay conclusion should start with a paraphrasing of your thesis statement, which is your key point.

Look at the future

Do not introduce wholly new concepts; instead, draw on your thesis statement and tie it to a level of dedication that you have elicited in your audience.

More interesting articles