2658 Words Jan 8th, 2016 11 Pages
A Guide to Writing the Literary Analysis Essay
I. INTRODUCTION: the first paragraph in your essay. It begins creatively in order to
catch your reader’s interest, provides essential background about the literary work, and
prepares the reader for your major thesis. The introduction must include the author and
title of the work as well as an explanation of the theme to be discussed. Other
essential background may include setting, an introduction of main characters, etc. The
major thesis goes in this paragraph usually at the end. Because the major thesis
sometimes sounds tacked on, make special attempts to link it to the sentence that
precedes it by building on a key word or idea.
A) Creative Opening/Hook: the beginning sentences of
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Poverty reaches from the privileged families, like
the Finches, to the Negroes and “white trash” Ewells, who live on the outskirts of
town. Harper Lee paints a vivid picture of life in this humid Alabama town where
tempers and bigotry explode into conflict.

B) 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. 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.
Sometimes a thesis becomes too cumbersome to fit into one sentence. In such cases, you
may express the major thesis as two sentences.
 Example: In a Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens shows the process by which
a wasted life can be redeemed. Sidney Carton, through his love for Lucie Manette,
is transformed from a hopeless, bitter man into a hero whose life and death have

A) Body: the support paragraphs of your essay. These paragraphs contain supporting
Example: (concrete detail) and analysis/explanation (commentary) for your topic
sentences. Each paragraph in the body includes (1) a topic sentence, (2) textual evidence
(a.k.a. quotes from your…

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