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Literary analysis: sample essay.
We turn once more to Joanna Wolfe’s and Laura Wilder’s Digging into Literature: Strategies for Reading, Writing, and Analysis (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016) in order to show you their example of a strong student essay that has a strong central claim elucidated by multiple surface/depth arguments supported by patterns of evidence.
Sylvia Plath’s short poem “Morning Song” explores the conflicted emotions of a new mother. On the one hand, the mother recognizes that she is expected to treasure and celebrate her infant, but on the other hand, she feels strangely removed from the child. The poem uses a combination of scientific and natural imagery to illustrate the mother’s feelings of alienation. By the end of the poem, however, we see a shift in this imagery as the mother begins to see the infant in more human terms.
There are several references to scientific imagery in “Morning Song” that suggest that mother is viewing the baby in clinical, scientific terms rather than as a new life. The poem refers to magnification (4) and reflection (8), both of which are scientific methods. The word “distills” (8) refers to a scientific, chemical process for removing impurities from a substance. The baby’s cry is described as taking “its place among the elements” (3), which seems to refer to the periodic table of elements, the primordial matter of the universe. The watch in the first line is similarly a scientific tool and the gold the watch is made of is, of course, an element, like the baby’s cry. Even the balloons in the last line have a scientific connotation since balloons are often used for measurements and experiments in science. These images all serve to show how the speaker feels distanced from the baby, who is like a scientific experiment she is conducting rather than a human being.
Natural imagery also seems to further dehumanize the baby, reducing it to nothing more than its mouth. The baby’s breathing is compared to a moth in line 10, suggesting that the speaker feels the infant is fragile and is as likely to die as a moth dancing around candlelight. A few lines later, the baby’s mouth is compared to another animal—a cat—who greedily opens its mouth for milk. Not only does the speaker seem to feel that the baby is like an animal, but she herself is turned into an animal, as she arises “cow-heavy” (13) to feed the infant. These images show how the speaker sees both the baby and herself as dumb animals who exist only to feed and be fed. Even the morning itself seems to be reduced to another mouth to feed as she describes how the dawn “swallows its dull stars” (16). These lines suggest that just as the sun swallows up the stars, so the baby will swallow up this mother.
However, in the last few lines the poem takes a hopeful turn as the speaker begins to view the baby as a human being. The baby’s mouth, which has previously been greedy and animal-like, now becomes a source of music, producing a “handful of notes” (17) and “clear vowels” (18). Music is a distinctly human sound. No animals and certainly not the cats, cows, or moths mentioned earlier in the poem, make music. This change in how the speaker perceives the baby’s sounds—from animalistic cry to human song—suggest that she is beginning to relate the baby as an individual. Even the word “handful” in the phrase “handful of notes” (17) seems hopeful in this context since this is the first time the mother has referred to the baby as having a distinctly human body part. When the baby’s notes finally “rise like balloons” (18), the speaker seems to have arrived at a place where she can celebrate the infant. For the first time, the infant is giving something to the speaker rather than threatening to take something away. The mother seems to have finally accepted the child as an independent human being whose company she can celebrate.
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Dr. Sandi Van Lieu
**For a video overview of this essay, see further down on this page.
- Images and video created by Dr. Sandi Van Lieu and licensed under CC BY NC SA.
- Student essay example by Janelle Devin and used with permission.
The RoughWriter's Guide Copyright © 2020 by Dr. Sandi Van Lieu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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Literary Analysis Essay
Literary Analysis Essay - Step by Step Guide
15 min read
Published on: Aug 16, 2020
Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023
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Literary Analysis Essay Outline Guide with Samples
Interesting Literary Analysis Essay Topics & Ideas
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Literature is an art that can inspire, challenge, and transform us. But how do we analyze literature in a way that truly captures its essence?
That's where a literary analysis essay comes in.
Writing a literary analysis essay allows you to delve into the themes, characters, and symbols of a literary work. It's a chance to engage with literature on a deeper level and to discover new insights.
In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the process of writing a literary analysis essay, step by step. Plus, you’ll get to read some great examples to help you out!
So let’s dive in!
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What is a Literary Analysis Essay?
Literary analysis is a process of examining a literary work in detail to uncover its meaning and significance.
It involves breaking down the various elements of a work, such as plot, character, setting, and theme. And then analyzing how they work together to create a specific effect on the reader.
In other words, literary analysis is an exercise in interpretation. The reader of a work asks questions about what the author means to say, how they are saying it, and why.
A literary analysis essay is an essay where you explore such questions in depth and offer your own insights.
What is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay?
In general, the purpose of a literary analysis essay is as follows:
- To gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the work.
- To be able to think critically and analytically about a text.
Content of a Literary Analysis
A literary analysis essay delves deep into the various aspects of a literary work to examine its meaning, symbolism, themes, and more. Here are the key elements to include in your literary analysis essay:
Plot refers to the sequence of events that make up the storyline of a literary work. It encompasses the main events, conflicts, and resolutions that drive the narrative forward.
Elements of Plot Analysis
The elements of a plot typically include:
- Exposition: The introduction of the story that establishes the setting, characters, and initial circumstances.
- Rising action: A set of events or actions that sets the main conflict into motion, often occurring early in the story.
- Conflict: The series of events that build tension and develop the conflict, leading to the story's climax.
- Climax: The turning point of the story, where the conflict reaches its peak and the outcome hangs in the balance.
- Falling Action: The events that occur after the climax, leading towards the resolution of the conflict.
- Resolution: The point in the story where the conflict is resolved, providing closure to the narrative.
Character analysis involves studying the role, development, and motivations of the characters in a literary work. It explores how characters contribute to the overall narrative and themes of the story.
Elements of Character Analysis
- Identification of major and minor characters.
- Examination of their traits, behaviors, and relationships.
- Analysis of character development and changes throughout the story.
- Evaluation of the character's role in advancing the plot or conveying themes.
Symbolism and Imagery Analysis
Symbolism and imagery analysis focuses on the use of symbols, objects, or images in a work. It analyzes and explores the use of literary devices to convey deeper meanings and evoke emotions.
Elements of Symbolism and Imagery Analysis
- Identification of key symbols or recurring motifs.
- Interpretation of their symbolic significance.
- Analysis of how imagery is used to create vivid mental pictures and enhance the reader's understanding and emotional experience.
Analyzing the theme involves exploring the central ideas or messages conveyed in a literary work. It examines the underlying concepts, or messages that the author wants to convey through the story.
Elements of Theme Analysis
- Identification of the main themes or central ideas explored in the text.
- Analysis of how the themes are developed and reinforced throughout the story.
- Exploration of the author's perspective and the intended message behind the themes.
The Setting of a story includes the time, place, and social context in which the story takes place. Analyzing the setting involves how the setting influences the characters, plot, and overall atmosphere of the work.
Elements of Setting Analysis
- Description and analysis of the physical, cultural, and historical aspects of the setting.
- Examination of how the setting contributes to the mood, atmosphere, and themes of the work.
- Evaluation of how the setting shapes the characters' actions and motivations.
Structure and Style Analysis
Structure and style analysis involves studying the organization, narrative techniques, and literary devices employed by the author. It explores how the structure and style contribute to the overall impact and effectiveness of the work.
Elements of Structure and Style Analysis
- Analysis of the narrative structure, such as the use of flashbacks, nonlinear timelines, or multiple perspectives.
- Examination of the author's writing style, including the use of language, tone, and figurative language.
- Evaluation of literary devices, such as foreshadowing, irony, or allusion, and their impact on the reader's interpretation.
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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay?
Writing a great literary analysis piece requires you to follow certain steps. Hereâs what you need to do to write a literary essay:
Preparing for Your Essay
The pre-writing process for writing a literary analysis essay includes the following:
- Choosing a literary work to analyze
- Reading and analyzing the work
- Taking notes and organizing your thoughts
- Creating an outline for your essay
Choosing a Work to Analyze
As a student, you would most probably be assigned a literary piece to analyze. It could be a short story, a novel, or a poem. However, sometimes you get to choose it yourself.
In such a case, you should choose a work that you find interesting and engaging. This will make it easier to stay motivated as you analyze the work and write your essay.
Moreover, you should choose a work that has some depth and complexity. This will give you plenty of material to analyze and discuss in your essay. Finally, make sure that your choice fits within the scope of the assignment and meets the expectations of your instructor.
Reading and Analyzing
Once youâve chosen a literary work, it's time to read the work with careful attention. There are several key elements to consider when reading and analyzing a literary work:
- Plot - The sequence of events that make up the story. Analyzing the plot involves examining the structure of the story, including its exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
- Characters - The people or entities that populate the story. Analyzing characters involves examining their motivations, personalities, relationships, and development over the course of the story.
Want to learn more about character analysis? Head to our blog about how to conduct character analysis and learn easy steps with examples.
- Setting - The time, place, and environment in which the story takes place. Analyzing the setting involves examining how the atmosphere contributes to the story's overall meaning.
- Theme - The underlying message or meaning of the story. Analyzing themes involves examining the work's central ideas and how they are expressed through the various elements of the story.
Moreover, it's important to consider the following questions while analyzing:
- What is the central theme or main point the author is trying to make?
- What literary devices and techniques has the author used?
- Why did the author choose to write this particular work?
- What themes and ideas are present in the work?
These questions will help you dive deeper into the work you are writing about.
Take Notes and Gather Material
As you read and analyze the literary work, it's important to take notes so you donât forget important details and ideas. This also helps you identify patterns and connections between different elements of the piece.
One effective way to take notes is to list important elements of the work, such as characters, setting, and theme. You can also use sticky notes, highlighters, or annotations to mark important passages and write down your ideas.
Writing Your Literary Analysis Essay
Once you have read a piece of literature and taken notes, you have all the material you need to write an essay. Follow the simple steps below to write an effective literary analysis essay.
Create an Outline for Your Essay
Firstly, creating an outline is necessary. This will help you to organize your thoughts and ideas and ensure that your essay flows logically and coherently.
This is what your literary essay outline would look like:
Writing the Introduction
Writing your essay introduction involves the three following parts:
- Begin the introductory paragraph with an engaging hook statement that captures the readers' attention. An effective hook statement can take many different forms, such as a provocative quote, an intriguing question, or a surprising fact.
Make sure that your hook statement is relevant to the literary work you are writing about. Here are a few examples of effective hooks:
- Afterward, present the necessary background information and context about the literary work. For instance,
- Talk about the author of the work or when and where it was written.
- Give an overview of the work or why it is significant.
- Provide readers with sufficient context so they can know what the work is generally about.
- Finally, end the introduction with a clear thesis statement . Your thesis statement should be a concise statement that clearly states the argument you will be making in your essay. It should be specific and debatable, and it should provide a roadmap for the rest of your essay.
For example, a thesis statement for an essay on "Hamlet" might be:
Watch this video to learn more about writing an introduction for a literary analysis essay:
Writing the Body
Here are the steps to follow when writing a body paragraph for a literary analysis essay:
- Start with a topic sentence:
The topic sentence should introduce the main point or argument you will be making in the paragraph. It should be clear and concise and should indicate what the paragraph is about.
- Provide evidence:
After you have introduced your main point, provide evidence from the text to support your analysis. This could include quotes, paraphrases, or summaries of the text.
- Explain and discuss the evidence:
Explain how the evidence supports your main point or argument or how it connects back to your thesis statement.
- Conclude the paragraph:
End the paragraph by relating your main point to the thesis and discussing its significance. You should also use transitions to connect the paragraph to your next point or argument.
Writing the Conclusion
The conclusion of a literary analysis essay provides closure to your analysis and reinforces your thesis statement. Hereâs what a conclusion includes:
- Restate your thesis statement:
Start by restating your thesis statement in a slightly different way than in your introduction. This will remind the reader of the argument you made and the evidence you provided to support it.
- Summarize your main points:
Briefly summarize the main points you made in your essay's body paragraphs. This will help tie everything together and provide closure to your analysis.
- Personal reflections:
The conclusion is the best place to provide some personal reflections on the literary piece. You can also explain connections between your analysis and the larger context. This could include connections to other literary works, your personal life, historical events, or contemporary issues.
- End with a strong statement:
End your conclusion with a strong statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. This could be a thought-provoking question, a call to action, or a final insight into the significance of your analysis.
Finalizing your Essay
Youâve completed the first draft of your literary analysis essay. Congratulations!
However, itâs not over just yet. You need some time to polish and improve the essay before it can be submitted. Hereâs what you need to do:
Proofread and Revise your Essay
After completing your draft, you should proofread your essay. You should look out for the following aspects:
- Check for clarity:
Make sure that your ideas are expressed clearly and logically. You should also take a look at your structure and organization. Rearrange your arguments if necessary to make them clearer.
- Check for grammar and spelling errors:
Use spelling and grammar check tools online to identify and correct any basic errors in your essay.
- Verify factual information:
You must have included information about the work or from within the work in your essay. Recheck and verify that it is correct and verifiable.
- Check your formatting:
Make sure that your essay is properly formatted according to the guidelines provided by your instructor. This includes requirements for font size, margins, spacing, and citation style.
Helpful Tips for Revising a Literary Essay
Here are some tips below that can help you proofread and revise your essay better:
- Read your essay out loud:
Reading your essay out loud makes it easier to identify awkward phrasing, repetitive language, and other issues.
- Take a break:
It can be helpful to step away from your essay for a little while before starting the editing process. This can help you approach your essay with fresh eyes and a clearer perspective.
- Be concise:
Remove any unnecessary words or phrases that do not add to your argument. This can help to make your essay more focused and effective.
- Let someone else proofread and get feedback:
You could ask a friend or a teacher to read your essay and provide feedback. This way, you can get some valuable insights on what you could include or catch mistakes that you might have missed.
Literary Analysis Essay Examples
Reading a few good examples helps to understand literary analysis essays better. So check out these examples below and read them to see what a well-written essay looks like.
How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay
Literary Analysis Essay Example
Sample Literary Analysis Essay
Lord of the Rings Literary Analysis
The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis
Literary Analysis Example for 8th Grade
Literary Analysis Essay Topics
Need a topic for your literary analysis essay? You can pick any aspect of any work of literature you like. Here are some example topics that will help you get inspired:
- The use of symbolism in "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
- The theme of isolation in "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger.
- The portrayal of social class in "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen.
- The use of magical realism in "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
- The role of women in "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood.
- The use of foreshadowing in "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding.
- The portrayal of race and identity in "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison.
- The use of imagery in "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy.
- The theme of forgiveness in "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini.
- The use of allegory in "Animal Farm" by George Orwell.
Writing a literary analysis essay can be a rewarding experience for any student or writer, But itâs not easy. However, by following the steps you learned in this guide, you can successfully produce a well-written literary analysis essay.
Also, you have got some examples of essays to read and topic ideas to get creative inspiration. With these resources, you have all you need to craft an engaging piece. So donât hesitate to start writing your essay and come back to this blog whenever you need.
The deadline is approaching, but you donât have time to write your essay? No worries! Our analytical essay writing service is here to help you out!
At CollegeEssay.org, we have a team of professional and experienced literature writers who can help you craft a compelling literary essay. Our affordable and reliable paper writing service focuses on the high-quality and timely delivery of your essay.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are the 4 components of literary analysis.
The four main components of literary analysis are:
What is the fundamental characteristic of a literary analysis essay?
Interpretive is the fundamental characteristic of a literary analysis essay.
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Literary Analysis Essay
Literary Analysis Essay Writing
Last updated on: May 21, 2023
Literary Analysis Essay - Ultimate Guide By Professionals
By: Cordon J.
Reviewed By: Rylee W.
Published on: Dec 3, 2019
A literary analysis essay specifically examines and evaluates a piece of literature or a literary work. It also understands and explains the links between the small parts to their whole information.
It is important for students to understand the meaning and the true essence of literature to write a literary essay.
One of the most difficult assignments for students is writing a literary analysis essay. It can be hard to come up with an original idea or find enough material to write about. You might think you need years of experience in order to create a good paper, but that's not true.
This blog post will show you how easy it can be when you follow the steps given here.Writing such an essay involves the breakdown of a book into small parts and understanding each part separately. It seems easy, right?
Trust us, it is not as hard as good book reports but it may also not be extremely easy. You will have to take into account different approaches and explain them in relation with the chosen literary work.
It is a common high school and college assignment and you can learn everything in this blog.
Continue reading for some useful tips with an example to write a literary analysis essay that will be on point. You can also explore our detailed article on writing an analytical essay .
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What is a Literary Analysis Essay?
A literary analysis essay is an important kind of essay that focuses on the detailed analysis of the work of literature.
The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to explain why the author has used a specific theme for his work. Or examine the characters, themes, literary devices , figurative language, and settings in the story.
This type of essay encourages students to think about how the book or the short story has been written. And why the author has created this work.
The method used in the literary analysis essay differs from other types of essays. It primarily focuses on the type of work and literature that is being analyzed.
Mostly, you will be going to break down the work into various parts. In order to develop a better understanding of the idea being discussed, each part will be discussed separately.
The essay should explain the choices of the author and point of view along with your answers and personal analysis.
How To Write A Literary Analysis Essay
So how to start a literary analysis essay? The answer to this question is quite simple.
The following sections are required to write an effective literary analysis essay. By following the guidelines given in the following sections, you will be able to craft a winning literary analysis essay.
The aim of the introduction is to establish a context for readers. You have to give a brief on the background of the selected topic.
It should contain the name of the author of the literary work along with its title. The introduction should be effective enough to grab the reader’s attention.
In the body section, you have to retell the story that the writer has narrated. It is a good idea to create a summary as it is one of the important tips of literary analysis.
Other than that, you are required to develop ideas and disclose the observed information related to the issue. The ideal length of the body section is around 1000 words.
To write the body section, your observation should be based on evidence and your own style of writing.
It would be great if the body of your essay is divided into three paragraphs. Make a strong argument with facts related to the thesis statement in all of the paragraphs in the body section.
Start writing each paragraph with a topic sentence and use transition words when moving to the next paragraph.
Summarize the important points of your literary analysis essay in this section. It is important to compose a short and strong conclusion to help you make a final impression of your essay.
Pay attention that this section does not contain any new information. It should provide a sense of completion by restating the main idea with a short description of your arguments. End the conclusion with your supporting details.
You have to explain why the book is important. Also, elaborate on the means that the authors used to convey her/his opinion regarding the issue.
For further understanding, here is a downloadable literary analysis essay outline. This outline will help you structure and format your essay properly and earn an A easily.
DOWNLOADABLE LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY OUTLINE (PDF)
Types of Literary Analysis Essay
- Close reading - This method involves attentive reading and detailed analysis. No need for a lot of knowledge and inspiration to write an essay that shows your creative skills.
- Theoretical - In this type, you will rely on theories related to the selected topic.
- Historical - This type of essay concerns the discipline of history. Sometimes historical analysis is required to explain events in detail.
- Applied - This type involves analysis of a specific issue from a practical perspective.
- Comparative - This type of writing is based on when two or more alternatives are compared
Examples of Literary Analysis Essay
Examples are great to understand any concept, especially if it is related to writing. Below are some great literary analysis essay examples that showcase how this type of essay is written.
A ROSE FOR EMILY LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY
THE GREAT GATSBY LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY
THE YELLOW WALLPAPER LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY
If you do not have experience in writing essays, this will be a very chaotic process for you. In that case, it is very important for you to conduct good research on the topic before writing.
There are two important points that you should keep in mind when writing a literary analysis essay.
First, remember that it is very important to select a topic in which you are interested. Choose something that really inspires you. This will help you to catch the attention of a reader.
The selected topic should reflect the main idea of writing. In addition to that, it should also express your point of view as well.
Another important thing is to draft a good outline for your literary analysis essay. It will help you to define a central point and division of this into parts for further discussion.
Literary Analysis Essay Topics
Literary analysis essays are mostly based on artistic works like books, movies, paintings, and other forms of art. However, generally, students choose novels and books to write their literary essays.
Some cool, fresh, and good topics and ideas are listed below:
- Role of the Three Witches in flaming Macbeth’s ambition.
- Analyze the themes of the Play Antigone,
- Discuss Ajax as a tragic hero.
- The Judgement of Paris: Analyze the Reasons and their Consequences.
- Oedipus Rex: A Doomed Son or a Conqueror?
- Describe the Oedipus complex and Electra complex in relation to their respective myths.
- Betrayal is a common theme of Shakespearean tragedies. Discuss
- Identify and analyze the traits of history in T.S Eliot’s ‘Gerontion’.
- Analyze the theme of identity crisis in The Great Gatsby.
- Analyze the writing style of Emily Dickinson.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What should a literary analysis essay include.
A good literary analysis essay must include a proper and in-depth explanation of your ideas. They must be backed with examples and evidence from the text. Textual evidence includes summaries, paraphrased text, original work details, and direct quotes.
What are the 4 components of literary analysis?
Here are the 4 essential parts of a literary analysis essay;
No literary work is explained properly without discussing and explaining these 4 things.
How do you start a literary analysis essay?
Start your literary analysis essay with the name of the work and the title. Hook your readers by introducing the main ideas that you will discuss in your essay and engage them from the start.
How do you do a literary analysis?
In a literary analysis essay, you study the text closely, understand and interpret its meanings. And try to find out the reasons behind why the author has used certain symbols, themes, and objects in the work.
Why is literary analysis important?
It encourages the students to think beyond their existing knowledge, experiences, and belief and build empathy. This helps in improving the writing skills also.
What is the fundamental characteristic of a literary analysis essay?
Interpretation is the fundamental and important feature of a literary analysis essay. The essay is based on how well the writer explains and interprets the work.
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Cordon. is a published author and writing specialist. He has worked in the publishing industry for many years, providing writing services and digital content. His own writing career began with a focus on literature and linguistics, which he continues to pursue. Cordon is an engaging and professional individual, always looking to help others achieve their goals.
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Literary Analysis Essay Writing
Literary Analysis Essay - A Complete Guide With Examples
Published on: Sep 15, 2018
Last updated on: Dec 21, 2022
People also read
Interesting Literary Analysis Essay Topics & Ideas
Literary Analysis Essay Outline - A Step By Step Guide
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Writing a literary analysis essay is an essential part of academics. High school and college students often get assigned this type of paper. A literary essay is a form of academic writing that requires good analyzing and writing skills. Writing a literary essay helps develop good interpretive skills and strong analyzing abilities.
This article is written to give a complete understanding of how a literary analysis essay is drafted. Start writing your literary essay using the examples and tips provided below.
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Literary Analysis Essay Definition
In a literary analysis essay, students share their opinion about the theme and other literary elements. These views and opinions are then supported with evidence from the relevant work.
The literary piece of writing can be a short story, poem, or any other fictional or non-fictional work. It also has the same sections as different essay types. But it may not have a thesis statement, especially if it is just an informative essay type.
The method used to analyze literary work can differ depending upon the type of work being analyzed. It is essential to break down the work into various components to understand and study better.
The fundamental characteristics that make a literary analysis essay different from other essays are:
- A literary analysis essay includes a narrative
- It is interpretive
- It doesn’t have an arguable thesis
- It is a report
What is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay?
A literary analysis essay helps the students in finding and explaining the essential elements of fiction. It aims at presenting the details and all-sided analysis of a specific piece of literature work.
In this essay, the writer considers the content, language, effect on the audience, and the writing style in literature.
As a literature major, it is mandatory to learn literary elements and analyze them as per your understanding.
Elements of Literature
Elements of literature are the ideas or devices that make up a story. In other words, they are the elements that are used to develop the story. In a literary analysis essay, explaining these elements is essential, and without them, no literary essay is complete.
Some literature elements are more prominent, while others do not have any significant role in the chosen literary work.
The plot is one of the most significant elements of the literary essay. It provides insight into how the story unfolds and discusses the pattern of events that eventually make up a story.
Sometimes, the authors use a nonlinear plot, i.e., they include flashbacks or future events to make the story more captivating. You have to pay attention to this point while writing a literary analysis essay.
Having a point of view is essential in the work of literature. It communicates to the readers who is narrating the story. This section attempts to explain why the author has selected a particular perspective.
The setting highlights the specific period and the region in which the characters are moving and performing. Just like characters, settings are also essential to analyze. As the author expresses his/her opinion on a particular character, what they think about places can also be provocative.
Characters are the backbone of any piece of literature, and no story is complete without them. While writing the literary essay, you need to concentrate on how the characters develop and how they are portrayed.
In most literary works, there are three types of characters.
- Protagonist: Hero.
- Antagonist: Villain or the bad guy.
- Catalyst: An important character who is not the protagonist or antagonist.
Just stating what the characters are doing will be of no use. You have to think beyond and try to explain why the characters are the way they are.
The imagery is used as a symbol, and many of the story’s main elements are hidden in them. Therefore, it is an essential aspect of literary work. In it, the author attempts to draw a picture in the reader’s mind.
In the literary analysis essay, talk about the impact of the use of imagery on the story. Also, consider the work of literature, the development of the story, and its effect on the characters.
Symbolism is another aspect of literature. It is not explained in words but is hidden in the text and explained through different means. In simple words, it is used when an object is meant to represent an idea more significant than the object itself.
The irony is one of the most impactful elements that leave an impression on the readers’ memory. It is opposite to the expectations or even to the desires of some specific characters and readers.
The authors often try to hint at the future or the expected events through their descriptions. It is known as foreshadowing. The writer provides hints to the readers about what they can expect from the characters or the story’s plot. Impress your teacher by presenting your point of view and analysis of such an incident.
How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay?
Writing a literary analysis essay requires a writer to follow a proper process. The process includes planning as well as writing. If the planning of the essay is done correctly, the writing process gets easier and more effective.
To write your literary analysis essay successfully, follow the steps provided below:
1. Read Thoroughly
The first step in the writing process of a literary analysis essay is thoroughly read the chosen text. It is important to analyze and understand every little detail of the original text to effectively draft your literary essay.
Carefully read and understand the author’s view and the message he/she is providing through writing. A simple trick to analyzing the text is to answer the questions provided below:
- Which parts of the content are substantial?
- Which literary devices were used by the author?
- Why did the author choose those literary devices?
- How are the characters developed in the content?
Identify every detail, including the ideas, plot, characters, settings, etc., and analyze them attentively.
2. Choose A Topic
Once you have understood the text, come up with a topic for your literary analysis essay. Make sure to choose an interesting essay title to grab the reader’s interest in your work. Choosing a literary analysis essay topic can be a tricky business, but a good topic will ensure strong essay content.
3. Form A Thesis Statement
The next step is to form a thesis statement. A thesis statement is the writer’s stance on the chosen piece of work. After reading the entire content thoroughly, the writer will be clear about his/her claim on the text. Forming a strong thesis statement is important as it shapes the entire essay.
4. Collect Evidence
After forming a thesis statement, collect supporting information from the text to back up your stance. Collect strong evidence, facts, and expressions from work and present it in your essay. The evidence and data can be taken from other similar pieces of work to support the claim.
5. Form A Literary Analysis Essay Outline
Structure in literature work is fundamental. One should devote enough time to creating the essay structure/outline. Drafting an essay outline plays an important role in deciding the paper’s success. Generally, a literary analysis essay outline contains the following elements:
This section introduces the topic to the reader by including interesting information to catch their attention. Writing a good essay introduction is essential when drafting a strong essay.
Arrange your data in this section so that a reader gets an idea about the work and your stance on it. This is done by presenting background information on the text. In the end, close your introductory paragraphs with a thesis statement that you developed earlier.
5.2 Body Paragraphs
The body part of the essay contains all the details and explanations about the text. This is developed by proving the thesis statement. Arrange all the supporting data in this part of the outline to justify your stance.
It is the last and most important part of the essay. It presents the way your literary work reflects the plotline and ideas of the author. It is important to keep in mind the length when writing a conclusion of your essay.
The conclusion sums up the discussion, making the audience clear about the chosen text. it also provides the reasons behind the writer’s stance.
When moving from your outline to writing, focus on all the features of the literary work you will analyze. This might be difficult for you, so take the expert’s assistance. To make sure that the writing process is effective, seek help from an essay writing service.
Following is an example provided by our experts to help you draft an outline effectively.
Literary Essay Outline Example (PDF)
6. Start Writing
Once you have planned out the entire essay and have a concrete outline to follow, start writing it. A literary analysis essay is started by writing a hook statement that is a part of the introductory paragraph. This is a catchy opening statement that grabs the reader’s attention and motivates them to read the essay.
Present the background and brief information about the plot, ideas, and purpose of the original text. Following this comes a thesis statement that is presented at the end of the introduction section.
In the body paragraphs of a literary analysis essay, a writer takes references from the text to support his argument. This can be done using the quoting and paraphrasing method, depending on the writer’s choice.
Writing the body of your essay includes a topic sentence, sub-arguments, and supporting evidence. All of the arguments in the body paragraphs should collectively back the main idea of the essay.
For the conclusion of the literary analysis essay, restate the thesis statement. After that, provide a summary of the main ideas to prove your point. It is important to keep in mind that the conclusion’s length should not exceed the introduction’s length.
7. Proofread And Edit
After finishing the writing process, revise and proofread the essay to ensure that the work is free from errors. Check for mistakes and fix them right away before submitting your assignment.
Ensure that the language, tone, syntax, vocabulary, punctuation, grammar, and structure complement the content.
Literary Analysis Topics
Choosing a strong topic is important to draft a good literary essay. Following are some topic examples that you can use for your literary essays:
- Can inequality be avoided?
- Advantages and disadvantages of playing video games for children
- Is addiction a personal choice or disease?
- How does single parenting affect the physical and psychological well-being of a child?
- How are upbringing and personality-related?
- Effect of peer pressure on a child’s personality
- How can education standards be increased?
- Analyze the main character of a book
- Analyze the main plot of a novel
- The significance and analysis of a particular piece of literature.
Literary Analysis Essay Example
The main objective of a literary analysis paper is to examine and evaluate different parts of the text. Here you can find a literary analysis essay example to help you better understand the writing process.
Sample Literary Essay (PDF)
Literary Essay Rubric (PDF)
If you want expert help in drafting your literary essay, go through the free essay samples at MyPerfectWords.com. We are a professional essay writing service that offers top writing services at the best prices. You will get professionally written essays and papers on several literary analysis topics from our analytical essay writer .
You can place your order to get your customized essay written by professional essay writers at MyPerfectWords.com. Hire our analytical essay writing service today!
Frequently Asked Questions
What should a literary analysis essay include.
A good essay will have an explanation of the author's ideas and evidence from their text (short story, poem) to support those thoughts. Textual information includes a summary, paraphrase as well specific details like direct quotations in summaries or extracts where they are relevant for clarification on certain points.
Why literary analysis is important?
By analyzing literary work, students can see that successful art is more than just self-expression. It may serve a purpose beyond the creator's intent whether it be to inform or evoke empathy in its audience and even inspire them at times.
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How to Write an Essay Outline | Guidelines & Examples
Published on August 14, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.
An essay outline is a way of planning the structure of your essay before you start writing. It involves writing quick summary sentences or phrases for every point you will cover in each paragraph , giving you a picture of how your argument will unfold.
Table of contents
Organizing your material, presentation of the outline, examples of essay outlines, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about essay outlines.
At the stage where you’re writing an essay outline, your ideas are probably still not fully formed. You should know your topic and have already done some preliminary research to find relevant sources , but now you need to shape your ideas into a structured argument.
Look over any information, quotes and ideas you’ve noted down from your research and consider the central point you want to make in the essay—this will be the basis of your thesis statement . Once you have an idea of your overall argument, you can begin to organize your material in a way that serves that argument.
Try to arrange your material into categories related to different aspects of your argument. If you’re writing about a literary text, you might group your ideas into themes; in a history essay, it might be several key trends or turning points from the period you’re discussing.
Three main themes or subjects is a common structure for essays. Depending on the length of the essay, you could split the themes into three body paragraphs, or three longer sections with several paragraphs covering each theme.
As you create the outline, look critically at your categories and points: Are any of them irrelevant or redundant? Make sure every topic you cover is clearly related to your thesis statement.
Order of information
When you have your material organized into several categories, consider what order they should appear in.
Your essay will always begin and end with an introduction and conclusion , but the organization of the body is up to you.
Consider these questions to order your material:
- Is there an obvious starting point for your argument?
- Is there one subject that provides an easy transition into another?
- Do some points need to be set up by discussing other points first?
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Within each paragraph, you’ll discuss a single idea related to your overall topic or argument, using several points of evidence or analysis to do so.
In your outline, you present these points as a few short numbered sentences or phrases.They can be split into sub-points when more detail is needed.
The template below shows how you might structure an outline for a five-paragraph essay.
- Thesis statement
- First piece of evidence
- Second piece of evidence
- Importance of topic
- Strong closing statement
You can choose whether to write your outline in full sentences or short phrases. Be consistent in your choice; don’t randomly write some points as full sentences and others as short phrases.
Examples of outlines for different types of essays are presented below: an argumentative, expository, and literary analysis essay.
Argumentative essay outline
This outline is for a short argumentative essay evaluating the internet’s impact on education. It uses short phrases to summarize each point.
Its body is split into three paragraphs, each presenting arguments about a different aspect of the internet’s effects on education.
- Importance of the internet
- Concerns about internet use
- Thesis statement: Internet use a net positive
- Data exploring this effect
- Analysis indicating it is overstated
- Students’ reading levels over time
- Why this data is questionable
- Video media
- Interactive media
- Speed and simplicity of online research
- Questions about reliability (transitioning into next topic)
- Evidence indicating its ubiquity
- Claims that it discourages engagement with academic writing
- Evidence that Wikipedia warns students not to cite it
- Argument that it introduces students to citation
- Summary of key points
- Value of digital education for students
- Need for optimism to embrace advantages of the internet
Expository essay outline
This is the outline for an expository essay describing how the invention of the printing press affected life and politics in Europe.
The paragraphs are still summarized in short phrases here, but individual points are described with full sentences.
- Claim that the printing press marks the end of the Middle Ages.
- Provide background on the low levels of literacy before the printing press.
- Present the thesis statement: The invention of the printing press increased circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.
- Discuss the very high levels of illiteracy in medieval Europe.
- Describe how literacy and thus knowledge and education were mainly the domain of religious and political elites.
- Indicate how this discouraged political and religious change.
- Describe the invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg.
- Show the implications of the new technology for book production.
- Describe the rapid spread of the technology and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible.
- Link to the Reformation.
- Discuss the trend for translating the Bible into vernacular languages during the years following the printing press’s invention.
- Describe Luther’s own translation of the Bible during the Reformation.
- Sketch out the large-scale effects the Reformation would have on religion and politics.
- Summarize the history described.
- Stress the significance of the printing press to the events of this period.
Literary analysis essay outline
The literary analysis essay outlined below discusses the role of theater in Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park .
The body of the essay is divided into three different themes, each of which is explored through examples from the book.
- Describe the theatricality of Austen’s works
- Outline the role theater plays in Mansfield Park
- Introduce the research question : How does Austen use theater to express the characters’ morality in Mansfield Park ?
- Discuss Austen’s depiction of the performance at the end of the first volume
- Discuss how Sir Bertram reacts to the acting scheme
- Introduce Austen’s use of stage direction–like details during dialogue
- Explore how these are deployed to show the characters’ self-absorption
- Discuss Austen’s description of Maria and Julia’s relationship as polite but affectionless
- Compare Mrs. Norris’s self-conceit as charitable despite her idleness
- Summarize the three themes: The acting scheme, stage directions, and the performance of morals
- Answer the research question
- Indicate areas for further study
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You will sometimes be asked to hand in an essay outline before you start writing your essay . Your supervisor wants to see that you have a clear idea of your structure so that writing will go smoothly.
Even when you do not have to hand it in, writing an essay outline is an important part of the writing process . It’s a good idea to write one (as informally as you like) to clarify your structure for yourself whenever you are working on an essay.
If you have to hand in your essay outline , you may be given specific guidelines stating whether you have to use full sentences. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.
When writing an essay outline for yourself, the choice is yours. Some students find it helpful to write out their ideas in full sentences, while others prefer to summarize them in short phrases.
You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.
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beginner's guide to literary analysis
Understanding literature & how to write literary analysis.
Literary analysis is the foundation of every college and high school English class. Once you can comprehend written work and respond to it, the next step is to learn how to think critically and complexly about a work of literature in order to analyze its elements and establish ideas about its meaning.
If that sounds daunting, it shouldn’t. Literary analysis is really just a way of thinking creatively about what you read. The practice takes you beyond the storyline and into the motives behind it.
While an author might have had a specific intention when they wrote their book, there’s still no right or wrong way to analyze a literary text—just your way. You can use literary theories, which act as “lenses” through which you can view a text. Or you can use your own creativity and critical thinking to identify a literary device or pattern in a text and weave that insight into your own argument about the text’s underlying meaning.
Now, if that sounds fun, it should , because it is. Here, we’ll lay the groundwork for performing literary analysis, including when writing analytical essays, to help you read books like a critic.
What Is Literary Analysis?
As the name suggests, literary analysis is an analysis of a work, whether that’s a novel, play, short story, or poem. Any analysis requires breaking the content into its component parts and then examining how those parts operate independently and as a whole. In literary analysis, those parts can be different devices and elements—such as plot, setting, themes, symbols, etcetera—as well as elements of style, like point of view or tone.
When performing analysis, you consider some of these different elements of the text and then form an argument for why the author chose to use them. You can do so while reading and during class discussion, but it’s particularly important when writing essays.
Literary analysis is notably distinct from summary. When you write a summary , you efficiently describe the work’s main ideas or plot points in order to establish an overview of the work. While you might use elements of summary when writing analysis, you should do so minimally. You can reference a plot line to make a point, but it should be done so quickly so you can focus on why that plot line matters . In summary (see what we did there?), a summary focuses on the “ what ” of a text, while analysis turns attention to the “ how ” and “ why .”
While literary analysis can be broad, covering themes across an entire work, it can also be very specific, and sometimes the best analysis is just that. Literary critics have written thousands of words about the meaning of an author’s single word choice; while you might not want to be quite that particular, there’s a lot to be said for digging deep in literary analysis, rather than wide.
Although you’re forming your own argument about the work, it’s not your opinion . You should avoid passing judgment on the piece and instead objectively consider what the author intended, how they went about executing it, and whether or not they were successful in doing so. Literary criticism is similar to literary analysis, but it is different in that it does pass judgement on the work. Criticism can also consider literature more broadly, without focusing on a singular work.
Once you understand what constitutes (and doesn’t constitute) literary analysis, it’s easy to identify it. Here are some examples of literary analysis and its oft-confused counterparts:
Summary: In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the narrator visits his friend Roderick Usher and witnesses his sister escape a horrible fate.
Opinion: In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Poe uses his great Gothic writing to establish a sense of spookiness that is enjoyable to read.
Literary Analysis: “Throughout ‘The Fall of the House of Usher,’ Poe foreshadows the fate of Madeline by creating a sense of claustrophobia for the reader through symbols, such as in the narrator’s inability to leave and the labyrinthine nature of the house.
In summary, literary analysis is:
- Breaking a work into its components
- Identifying what those components are and how they work in the text
- Developing an understanding of how they work together to achieve a goal
- Not an opinion, but subjective
- Not a summary, though summary can be used in passing
- Best when it deeply, rather than broadly, analyzes a literary element
Literary Analysis and Other Works
As discussed above, literary analysis is often performed upon a single work—but it doesn’t have to be. It can also be performed across works to consider the interplay of two or more texts. Regardless of whether or not the works were written about the same thing, or even within the same time period, they can have an influence on one another or a connection that’s worth exploring. And reading two or more texts side by side can help you to develop insights through comparison and contrast.
For example, Paradise Lost is an epic poem written in the 17th century, based largely on biblical narratives written some 700 years before and which later influenced 19th century poet John Keats. The interplay of works can be obvious, as here, or entirely the inspiration of the analyst. As an example of the latter, you could compare and contrast the writing styles of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Edgar Allan Poe who, while contemporaries in terms of time, were vastly different in their content.
Additionally, literary analysis can be performed between a work and its context. Authors are often speaking to the larger context of their times, be that social, political, religious, economic, or artistic. A valid and interesting form is to compare the author’s context to the work, which is done by identifying and analyzing elements that are used to make an argument about the writer’s time or experience.
For example, you could write an essay about how Hemingway’s struggles with mental health and paranoia influenced his later work, or how his involvement in the Spanish Civil War influenced his early work. One approach focuses more on his personal experience, while the other turns to the context of his times—both are valid.
Why Does Literary Analysis Matter?
Sometimes an author wrote a work of literature strictly for entertainment’s sake, but more often than not, they meant something more. Whether that was a missive on world peace, commentary about femininity, or an allusion to their experience as an only child, the author probably wrote their work for a reason, and understanding that reason—or the many reasons—can actually make reading a lot more meaningful.
Performing literary analysis as a form of study unquestionably makes you a better reader. It’s also likely that it will improve other skills, too, like critical thinking, creativity, debate, and reasoning.
At its grandest and most idealistic, literary analysis even has the ability to make the world a better place. By reading and analyzing works of literature, you are able to more fully comprehend the perspectives of others. Cumulatively, you’ll broaden your own perspectives and contribute more effectively to the things that matter to you.
Literary Terms to Know for Literary Analysis
There are hundreds of literary devices you could consider during your literary analysis, but there are some key tools most writers utilize to achieve their purpose—and therefore you need to know in order to understand that purpose. These common devices include:
- Characters: The people (or entities) who play roles in the work. The protagonist is the main character in the work.
- Conflict: The conflict is the driving force behind the plot, the event that causes action in the narrative, usually on the part of the protagonist
- Context : The broader circumstances surrounding the work political and social climate in which it was written or the experience of the author. It can also refer to internal context, and the details presented by the narrator
- Diction : The word choice used by the narrator or characters
- Genre: A category of literature characterized by agreed upon similarities in the works, such as subject matter and tone
- Imagery : The descriptive or figurative language used to paint a picture in the reader’s mind so they can picture the story’s plot, characters, and setting
- Metaphor: A figure of speech that uses comparison between two unlike objects for dramatic or poetic effect
- Narrator: The person who tells the story. Sometimes they are a character within the story, but sometimes they are omniscient and removed from the plot.
- Plot : The storyline of the work
- Point of view: The perspective taken by the narrator, which skews the perspective of the reader
- Setting : The time and place in which the story takes place. This can include elements like the time period, weather, time of year or day, and social or economic conditions
- Symbol : An object, person, or place that represents an abstract idea that is greater than its literal meaning
- Syntax : The structure of a sentence, either narration or dialogue, and the tone it implies
- Theme : A recurring subject or message within the work, often commentary on larger societal or cultural ideas
- Tone : The feeling, attitude, or mood the text presents
How to Perform Literary Analysis
Step 1: read the text thoroughly.
Literary analysis begins with the literature itself, which means performing a close reading of the text. As you read, you should focus on the work. That means putting away distractions (sorry, smartphone) and dedicating a period of time to the task at hand.
It’s also important that you don’t skim or speed read. While those are helpful skills, they don’t apply to literary analysis—or at least not this stage.
Step 2: Take Notes as You Read
As you read the work, take notes about different literary elements and devices that stand out to you. Whether you highlight or underline in text, use sticky note tabs to mark pages and passages, or handwrite your thoughts in a notebook, you should capture your thoughts and the parts of the text to which they correspond. This—the act of noticing things about a literary work—is literary analysis.
Step 3: Notice Patterns
As you read the work, you’ll begin to notice patterns in the way the author deploys language, themes, and symbols to build their plot and characters. As you read and these patterns take shape, begin to consider what they could mean and how they might fit together.
As you identify these patterns, as well as other elements that catch your interest, be sure to record them in your notes or text. Some examples include:
- Circle or underline words or terms that you notice the author uses frequently, whether those are nouns (like “eyes” or “road”) or adjectives (like “yellow” or “lush”).
- Highlight phrases that give you the same kind of feeling. For example, if the narrator describes an “overcast sky,” a “dreary morning,” and a “dark, quiet room,” the words aren’t the same, but the feeling they impart and setting they develop are similar.
- Underline quotes or prose that define a character’s personality or their role in the text.
- Use sticky tabs to color code different elements of the text, such as specific settings or a shift in the point of view.
By noting these patterns, comprehensive symbols, metaphors, and ideas will begin to come into focus.
Step 4: Consider the Work as a Whole, and Ask Questions
This is a step that you can do either as you read, or after you finish the text. The point is to begin to identify the aspects of the work that most interest you, and you could therefore analyze in writing or discussion.
Questions you could ask yourself include:
- What aspects of the text do I not understand?
- What parts of the narrative or writing struck me most?
- What patterns did I notice?
- What did the author accomplish really well?
- What did I find lacking?
- Did I notice any contradictions or anything that felt out of place?
- What was the purpose of the minor characters?
- What tone did the author choose, and why?
The answers to these and more questions will lead you to your arguments about the text.
Step 5: Return to Your Notes and the Text for Evidence
As you identify the argument you want to make (especially if you’re preparing for an essay), return to your notes to see if you already have supporting evidence for your argument. That’s why it’s so important to take notes or mark passages as you read—you’ll thank yourself later!
If you’re preparing to write an essay, you’ll use these passages and ideas to bolster your argument—aka, your thesis. There will likely be multiple different passages you can use to strengthen multiple different aspects of your argument. Just be sure to cite the text correctly!
If you’re preparing for class, your notes will also be invaluable. When your teacher or professor leads the conversation in the direction of your ideas or arguments, you’ll be able to not only proffer that idea but back it up with textual evidence. That’s an A+ in class participation.
Step 6: Connect These Ideas Across the Narrative
Whether you’re in class or writing an essay, literary analysis isn’t complete until you’ve considered the way these ideas interact and contribute to the work as a whole. You can find and present evidence, but you still have to explain how those elements work together and make up your argument.
How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay
When conducting literary analysis while reading a text or discussing it in class, you can pivot easily from one argument to another (or even switch sides if a classmate or teacher makes a compelling enough argument).
But when writing literary analysis, your objective is to propose a specific, arguable thesis and convincingly defend it. In order to do so, you need to fortify your argument with evidence from the text (and perhaps secondary sources) and an authoritative tone.
A successful literary analysis essay depends equally on a thoughtful thesis, supportive analysis, and presenting these elements masterfully. We’ll review how to accomplish these objectives below.
Step 1: Read the Text. Maybe Read It Again.
Constructing an astute analytical essay requires a thorough knowledge of the text. As you read, be sure to note any passages, quotes, or ideas that stand out. These could serve as the future foundation of your thesis statement. Noting these sections now will help you when you need to gather evidence.
The more familiar you become with the text, the better (and easier!) your essay will be. Familiarity with the text allows you to speak (or in this case, write) to it confidently. If you only skim the book, your lack of rich understanding will be evident in your essay. Alternatively, if you read the text closely—especially if you read it more than once, or at least carefully revisit important passages—your own writing will be filled with insight that goes beyond a basic understanding of the storyline.
Step 2: Brainstorm Potential Topics
Because you took detailed notes while reading the text, you should have a list of potential topics at the ready. Take time to review your notes, highlighting any ideas or questions you had that feel interesting. You should also return to the text and look for any passages that stand out to you.
When considering potential topics, you should prioritize ideas that you find interesting. It won’t only make the whole process of writing an essay more fun, your enthusiasm for the topic will probably improve the quality of your argument, and maybe even your writing. Just like it’s obvious when a topic interests you in a conversation, it’s obvious when a topic interests the writer of an essay (and even more obvious when it doesn’t).
Your topic ideas should also be specific, unique, and arguable. A good way to think of topics is that they’re the answer to fairly specific questions. As you begin to brainstorm, first think of questions you have about the text. Questions might focus on the plot, such as: Why did the author choose to deviate from the projected storyline? Or why did a character’s role in the narrative shift? Questions might also consider the use of a literary device, such as: Why does the narrator frequently repeat a phrase or comment on a symbol? Or why did the author choose to switch points of view each chapter?
Once you have a thesis question , you can begin brainstorming answers—aka, potential thesis statements . At this point, your answers can be fairly broad. Once you land on a question-statement combination that feels right, you’ll then look for evidence in the text that supports your answer (and helps you define and narrow your thesis statement).
For example, after reading “ The Fall of the House of Usher ,” you might be wondering, Why are Roderick and Madeline twins?, Or even: Why does their relationship feel so creepy?” Maybe you noticed (and noted) that the narrator was surprised to find out they were twins, or perhaps you found that the narrator’s tone tended to shift and become more anxious when discussing the interactions of the twins.
Once you come up with your thesis question, you can identify a broad answer, which will become the basis for your thesis statement. In response to the questions above, your answer might be, “Poe emphasizes the close relationship of Roderick and Madeline to foreshadow that their deaths will be close, too.”
Step 3: Gather Evidence
Once you have your topic (or you’ve narrowed it down to two or three), return to the text (yes, again) to see what evidence you can find to support it. If you’re thinking of writing about the relationship between Roderick and Madeline in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” look for instances where they engaged in the text.
This is when your knowledge of literary devices comes in clutch. Carefully study the language around each event in the text that might be relevant to your topic. How does Poe’s diction or syntax change during the interactions of the siblings? How does the setting reflect or contribute to their relationship? What imagery or symbols appear when Roderick and Madeline are together?
By finding and studying evidence within the text, you’ll strengthen your topic argument—or, just as valuably, discount the topics that aren’t strong enough for analysis.
Step 4: Consider Secondary Sources
In addition to returning to the literary work you’re studying for evidence, you can also consider secondary sources that reference or speak to the work. These can be articles from journals you find on JSTOR, books that consider the work or its context, or articles your teacher shared in class.
While you can use these secondary sources to further support your idea, you should not overuse them. Make sure your topic remains entirely differentiated from that presented in the source.
Step 5: Write a Working Thesis Statement
Once you’ve gathered evidence and narrowed down your topic, you’re ready to refine that topic into a thesis statement. As you continue to outline and write your paper, this thesis statement will likely change slightly, but this initial draft will serve as the foundation of your essay. It’s like your north star: Everything you write in your essay is leading you back to your thesis.
Writing a great thesis statement requires some real finesse. A successful thesis statement is:
- Debatable : You shouldn’t simply summarize or make an obvious statement about the work. Instead, your thesis statement should take a stand on an issue or make a claim that is open to argument. You’ll spend your essay debating—and proving—your argument.
- Demonstrable : You need to be able to prove, through evidence, that your thesis statement is true. That means you have to have passages from the text and correlative analysis ready to convince the reader that you’re right.
- Specific : In most cases, successfully addressing a theme that encompasses a work in its entirety would require a book-length essay. Instead, identify a thesis statement that addresses specific elements of the work, such as a relationship between characters, a repeating symbol, a key setting, or even something really specific like the speaking style of a character.
Example: By depicting the relationship between Roderick and Madeline to be stifling and almost otherworldly in its closeness, Poe foreshadows both Madeline’s fate and Roderick’s inability to choose a different fate for himself.
Step 6: Write an Outline
You have your thesis, you have your evidence—but how do you put them together? A great thesis statement (and therefore a great essay) will have multiple arguments supporting it, presenting different kinds of evidence that all contribute to the singular, main idea presented in your thesis.
Review your evidence and identify these different arguments, then organize the evidence into categories based on the argument they support. These ideas and evidence will become the body paragraphs of your essay.
For example, if you were writing about Roderick and Madeline as in the example above, you would pull evidence from the text, such as the narrator’s realization of their relationship as twins; examples where the narrator’s tone of voice shifts when discussing their relationship; imagery, like the sounds Roderick hears as Madeline tries to escape; and Poe’s tendency to use doubles and twins in his other writings to create the same spooky effect. All of these are separate strains of the same argument, and can be clearly organized into sections of an outline.
Step 7: Write Your Introduction
Your introduction serves a few very important purposes that essentially set the scene for the reader:
- Establish context. Sure, your reader has probably read the work. But you still want to remind them of the scene, characters, or elements you’ll be discussing.
- Present your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the backbone of your analytical paper. You need to present it clearly at the outset so that the reader understands what every argument you make is aimed at.
- Offer a mini-outline. While you don’t want to show all your cards just yet, you do want to preview some of the evidence you’ll be using to support your thesis so that the reader has a roadmap of where they’re going.
Step 8: Write Your Body Paragraphs
Thanks to steps one through seven, you’ve already set yourself up for success. You have clearly outlined arguments and evidence to support them. Now it’s time to translate those into authoritative and confident prose.
When presenting each idea, begin with a topic sentence that encapsulates the argument you’re about to make (sort of like a mini-thesis statement). Then present your evidence and explanations of that evidence that contribute to that argument. Present enough material to prove your point, but don’t feel like you necessarily have to point out every single instance in the text where this element takes place. For example, if you’re highlighting a symbol that repeats throughout the narrative, choose two or three passages where it is used most effectively, rather than trying to squeeze in all ten times it appears.
While you should have clearly defined arguments, the essay should still move logically and fluidly from one argument to the next. Try to avoid choppy paragraphs that feel disjointed; every idea and argument should feel connected to the last, and, as a group, connected to your thesis. A great way to connect the ideas from one paragraph to the next is with transition words and phrases, such as:
- In addition
- On the other hand
Step 9: Write Your Conclusion
Your conclusion is more than a summary of your essay's parts, but it’s also not a place to present brand new ideas not already discussed in your essay. Instead, your conclusion should return to your thesis (without repeating it verbatim) and point to why this all matters. If writing about the siblings in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” for example, you could point out that the utilization of twins and doubles is a common literary element of Poe’s work that contributes to the definitive eeriness of Gothic literature.
While you might speak to larger ideas in your conclusion, be wary of getting too macro. Your conclusion should still be supported by all of the ideas that preceded it.
Step 10: Revise, Revise, Revise
Of course you should proofread your literary analysis essay before you turn it in. But you should also edit the content to make sure every piece of evidence and every explanation directly supports your thesis as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Sometimes, this might mean actually adapting your thesis a bit to the rest of your essay. At other times, it means removing redundant examples or paraphrasing quotations. Make sure every sentence is valuable, and remove those that aren’t.
Other Resources for Literary Analysis
With these skills and suggestions, you’re well on your way to practicing and writing literary analysis. But if you don’t have a firm grasp on the concepts discussed above—such as literary devices or even the content of the text you’re analyzing—it will still feel difficult to produce insightful analysis.
If you’d like to sharpen the tools in your literature toolbox, there are plenty of other resources to help you do so:
- Check out our expansive library of Literary Devices . These could provide you with a deeper understanding of the basic devices discussed above or introduce you to new concepts sure to impress your professors ( anagnorisis , anyone?).
- This Academic Citation Resource Guide ensures you properly cite any work you reference in your analytical essay.
- Our English Homework Help Guide will point you to dozens of resources that can help you perform analysis, from critical reading strategies to poetry helpers.
- This Grammar Education Resource Guide will direct you to plenty of resources to refine your grammar and writing (definitely important for getting an A+ on that paper).
Of course, you should know the text inside and out before you begin writing your analysis. In order to develop a true understanding of the work, read through its corresponding SuperSummary study guide . Doing so will help you truly comprehend the plot, as well as provide some inspirational ideas for your analysis.
Exploring Literary Analysis Essay Examples: 20 Insightful Examples
May 20, 2023 | 0 comments
May 20, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments
What is Literary Analysis Essay
A literary analysis essay example is an academic assignment that examines and evaluates a work of literature or a given aspect of a specific literary piece. It tells about the big idea or theme of a book you’ve read. The literary essay may be about any book or any literary topic imaginable.
The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to give the reader a full perspective on the major idea or theme of the literature work. It just presents the main intention of the writer in constructing the piece.
In a literary analysis essay, the writer shares their opinion about the theme and other literary elements of writing .
These views are supported with textual evidence from relevant work to back up what is being said. It may not have a thesis statement depending on whether it’s an informative or argumentative essay type.
Let me break it up into two stages to start the journey. Your job is to synthesize a claimed or thematic statement about the passage and use your essay to support your ideas.
Your professor always reads the text you’re studying, so you don’t have to talk about what happened in the plot.
You reread most of the books before, and you know about them that if they are simply because you merely recite a book’s major characters as proof that you reread them, but the analysis would need more.
There can be many sections in this style, including but not limited to the introduction, body paragraphs supporting claims for your point-of-view (argument), conclusion where these points converge into one strong consensus called “claim.”
The following are the features that distinguish a literary analysis essay from other types of papers:
- A narrative is included in a literary analysis essay.
- It is interpretative;
- It does not contain an argumentative thesis;
- It is a report.
Writing a literary analysis essay is an essential part of academics.
High school and college students often get assigned this type of paper.
A literary essay is one of the different types of essays that require good analyzing skills, strong analytical abilities, and the ability to write well to be successful as something people want to read.
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- How to Structure an Essay
What is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay?
The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to carefully examine and sometimes evaluate a work of literature or an aspect of a work of literature. As with any analysis, this requires you to break the subject down into its component parts.
Examining the different elements of a piece of literature is not an end in itself but rather a process to help you better appreciate and understand the work of literature as a whole.
For instance, an analysis of a poem might deal with the different types of images in a poem or with the relationship between the form and content of the work. If you were to analyze a play, you might analyze the relationship between a subplot and the main plot, or you might analyze the character flaw of the tragic hero by tracing how it is revealed throughout the play.
You can choose from many approaches when analyzing a piece of literature. Common literary analysis essay focuses include characterization, structure, setting, language, theme, and symbolism.
Elements of Literature
Literature is the ideas or devices that make up a story.
These elements are used to develop literary works, and without them, no essay can be complete.
Some of these elements have more prominence than others, which do not play a significant role when it comes down to choosing literature for analysis purposes like I am doing now with this piece called “The Elements Of Literature.”
True analysis means examining the text as if as an investigator.
Set, characters, and setting each leave details of deeper meaning, and the only thing you do is find these out. Characters are useful to analysis because they act to cause and react to an event in a story.
Conflict is the fight between two opposing forces, usually the main protagonist and antagonists.
You may easily understand the setting because authors usually express opinions through character representation of races, religions, or gender.
The author may express some opinions through their characters can have provocative and revealing thoughts as well. In any analysis, sometimes a character gets started.
The plot is one of the essential elements in a literary essay because it provides insight into how the story unfolds and discusses patterns of events that make up a story.
Sometimes authors use nonlinear plots, such as flashbacks or future events- these can help make your work captivating to readers who want more than just an overview.
Make sure you pay attention to this point when writing an analysis paper.
In most situations, students finish up writing a summary of the plot instead of analyzing and explaining an assertion or developing an argument.
This is one very common mistake, and it fails students since simply retelling stories.
Rather than just using the summary, supporting the claims would be the right approach.
In theory, you should learn to share your impressions in examining literary analysis, which becomes difficult for most students to learn efficiently since instruction and practice are needed. It is typically difficult to know how best to use the plot synoptic because it becomes hard.
2 Point Of View
You can’t get through life without a point of view.
And in the world of literature, your perspective tells us who’s narrating and what their story is all about.
Having a point of view is essential in the work of literature. It communicates to the readers who are narrating the story. This section attempts to explain why the author has selected a particular perspective.
The importance “point-of-view” has on storytelling should not be underestimated because it communicates so much more than just an idea or opinion–it lets readers know which character they are following around as they go about his day (or night).
In other words, you don’t have any control over how someone else sees the world if that person happens to be telling your story from their own experiences.
During a literary analysis – one should have a clear understanding of the point of view and the writer’s ideas.
Assume that links between the ideas and a plot are found between characters’ behavior and character role changes in the text.
Read both if needed. What does the reader think about the characters in this book? What do you know about characters?
The setting of a story is integral to the development and progression, especially when it comes time for Analysis.
The reader can see how characters are affected in certain regions while also understanding their opinion about those areas as well through this technique.
Characters are the backbone of any piece of literature, and no story is complete without them.
While writing a literary essay, you need to concentrate on how these characters develop throughout the work and how different authors portray them.
There are three sorts of characters in most literary works.
- Hero is the protagonist.
- The antagonist is often known as the villain or the evil guy.
- Catalyst: A pivotal figure who is neither the protagonist nor the adversary.
The use of imagery in literature is an essential factor, where the author draws pictures and creates scenes for readers to experience through their imagination.
These images are usually used as symbols throughout literary work that often helps convey deeper emotions or messages, which you cannot do with mere words alone.
Without these essential elements, a story would lose its identity much as it did without sound before movies were invented.
Symbolism is a way to represent ideas through objects.
It’s not explained in words but can be found throughout the text, and it’s decoded by looking at other parts of the work.
One of the most impactful elements that leave an impression on readers’ memories is irony.
It can be just as surprising to a reader, for example, when they find out their favorite character dies in some unexpected way or when something terrible happens despite all their efforts.
One thing about life and storytelling is you never know what will happen next – death comes unexpectedly without warning sometimes, so it’s best not to get too attached.
The authors often try to hint at the future or anticipated events by making references through their descriptions.
This is called foreshadowing, and it provides hints to readers so they can expect what’s coming for characters, stories, plots. Impress your teacher with your perspectives on this incident in an essay format.
Literary Analysis Essay Outline
A well-written literary analysis essay outline should contain the following elements:
- Body paragraphs
The introductory part of your paper gives an overview of your argument in detail. It shall contain your thesis statement and summarize the essay’s structure. Sometimes some students prefer to write an introduction more later. It’s a decent idea to do so.
This section includes information to catch the readers’ attention. Writing a good essay introduction is essential when drafting up an engaging essay.
Ensuring that your introductory part is engaging can make or break what it feels like to read a paper. The first thing an essay should do when writing the opening paragraph, typically in the form of one sentence, establishes relevance and context for their audience by hooking them with interesting information.
A strong beginning sets up the tone for how you want readers to feel throughout reading your work.
The introduction is the best way to hook your reader.
It’s also a place where you can make sure they know what this essay is about! Let me show you how in three steps:
- Introduce my topic and thesis statement (the main point of this paper). I’ll let them see it early, so they don’t get lost later when all those words start getting thrown around like crazy.
- State points from books or other sources proving why my position makes sense – to make arguments strong, we need good textual evidence for our ideas.
- Tell them one thing more before closing off with an ending sentence. This will seal the deal because now readers are totally hooked.
After writing the introductory part, you move to the body section of a literary analysis essay, where you present ideas and statements that support your argument.
You can use quoting or paraphrasing methods depending on your preference.
The main points in every body paragraph should refer back to the general thesis statement for continuity throughout the paper.
Essay writing is a process that requires not only skill but the right mindset. The first step to writing an outstanding paper is creating a topic sentence for it- this will be used as the foundation and main argument of your essay.
Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence.
This is the first sentence of your paragraph that introduces which part of the thesis this paragraph will tackle.
After presenting your argument, provide textual evidence. Textual evidence may be a scene that you recount, a small detail or object, or a quote (you should cite this).
Most importantly, explain how the textual evidence supports the topic sentence or the thesis statement. The commentary is your interpretation, analysis, or insight into the text.
Generally speaking, a topic sentence makes it easy for a reader to know about the content a good sentence is about.
It allows new arguments in the argument line and combines with the earlier points or compares them with the preceding one in the argument line. Transition words such as “however” will give a more smooth transition.
Your subpoints will look at different aspects of your subject matter on their you can discuss them in detail before coming back together again with the theme statement you created earlier.
Without these individual arguments being developed fully before bringing them all back into one cohesive unit, readers might miss out on important details about what’s been discussed.
You might think that in literary analysis essays, a different structure of the text would be applied. However, it is essential to make your arguments as convincing as possible by providing enough textual evidence and making sure all claims refer to the thesis statement.
The body of your paper should contain three major sections: introduction (where you establish an argument), middle section with supporting facts or examples from text/literary critic’s review), conclusion (to summarize what has been said).
Sometimes, the text can be hard to define which parts are definite proof of your points.
So don’t forget that literary devices used in a book have motives and deeper meanings, while they might lead you to understand what the author was trying to say.
You should also pay attention not only to metaphors but other figures as well; there is no shortage on this list – allusions, alliterations (think about The Catcher in Rye), hyperboles (exaggerating people’s emotions or actions), and antithesis (a figure where two differing ideas oppose each other).
Keeping track of stylistic devices when reading through any piece, including these few simple ones mentioned above, will help uncover different aspects.
Writing a conclusion
A conclusion is the last and most crucial section of an essay.
It presents your argument about how a literary work reflects its plotline and ideas from the author’s perspective.
Still, it can only do so effectively if kept within a reasonable length limit.
Many people find the conclusion to be one of the most challenging parts of writing a paper.
But actually, it’s not! Your job is to summarize your key arguments and show how they relate to your thesis statement from earlier in the essay.
To write an effective concise conclusion, you needn’t make any new conclusions as all points have been made already; this means that if somebody were reading through what you’ve written so far, they shouldn’t have any unanswered questions about what has just been said – only answers.
The formula for knowing when you’re done with an excellent concluding paragraph is:
if there are no more points left over, then the reader should still feel satisfied at having read everything even though some things may seem unclear.
When moving on to writing this main part after having finished outlining all aspects of your chosen text, take help where you need it- even experts have limits.
Make sure that when working with such significant detail to make an understandable case for what makes up some piece of literature or art, always seek assistance.
Expert writers could aid in making something complex simple enough for anyone else reading quickly to see through their eyes as well as yours.
Following is an example provided by our experts to help you draft a good outline effectively.
Literary Essay Outline Example (PDF)
Literary analysis topics.
Choosing a topic for your essay can be tough. It’s important to know that topics are the backbone of essays, making it easier when you decide what to write about.
Choosing an interesting, engaging, or creative topic is key if you want your essay to succeed in grabbing readers’ attention. Here are some good example ideas:
- Effect of peer pressure on a child’s personality
- How can education standards be increased?
- The significance and analysis of a particular piece of literature.
- How upbringing and personality are related?
- How single parenting affects the physical and psychological well-being of a child?
- Analyze the main plot of a novel
- Can inequality be avoided?
- Advantages and disadvantages of playing video games for children
- Is addiction a personal choice or disease?
- Analyze the main character of a book
Literary analyses essay Examples
Sample literary analysis essay example for middle school.
This sample essay focuses on the character development of Laura in the book By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The thesis statement for this literary analysis essay is, “When her eldest sister loses her sight, Laura Ingalls Wilder must suddenly take on the role of the oldest child in the family and grow in maturity.”
A Rose For Emily Literary Analysis Essay
To kill a mockingbird literary analysis essay, the great gatsby literary analysis essay, the yellow wallpaper literary analysis essay, literary analysis example for 8th grade, the lord of the rings, chopin’s artistry in “the story of an hour”, impressions of ordinary life, plot and character in maupassant’s “the necklace”, the true lord of the rings, the mystery of the mastery, plot vs. point of view in chopin’s “story of an hour”, literary analysis of maupassant’s “the necklace”, a cure for temporary depression, hidden labyrinth, untitled: on chekhov’s “the lady with the little dog, get help from the experts with your literary analysis essay.
Are you looking for literary analysis essays? Well, your search is over! We have the best experts in writing literary analysis essays. Our writers are qualified and experienced in writing such kinds of essays. They understand what you need in your essay, and they will deliver a perfect essay according to your specifications.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you write a literary analysis essay.
- An introduction that tells the reader what your essay will focus on.
- The main body is divided into paragraphs that build an argument using evidence from the text.
- A conclusion that clearly states the main point that you have shown with your analysis.
What is a literary analysis essay?
The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to carefully examine and sometimes evaluate a work of literature or an aspect of a work of literature
How do you start a literary analysis paper?
Writing an Introduction to a Literary Analysis Essay.
Start with the title of your work and its author’s name. One or two sentences will suffice. Stress on the main idea of the analyzed work to make these sentences more hooking. Briefly tell what the work is about or how it influenced the world literature.
What is a literary analysis essay in middle school?
A literary analysis is more than a book report; it goes deeper into the text, examining the themes, literary devices, characters, and more. To write a great literary analysis essay , you need a good thesis and a good grasp of the novel, story, poem, or other literary work you’re discussing.
What are the 5 components of literary analysis?
The elements to be analyzed are plot, setting, characters, point of view, figurative language, and style.
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Webpublished with students' permission ~ Thank you! ~ Cora ~ Short Cuts: Fall 2003 Midterm Examples: Josie Fenner : " The Lord of the Rings " | Tonya Flowers : "Chopin's Artistry in 'The Story of an Hour'" Melanie Price : "Impressions of Ordinary Life" [on Chekhov's "The Lady with the Little Dog"] Arielle Samuel : "Plot and Character in Maupassant's 'The Necklace'" Matthew Welch : "The True Lord of the Rings"
Fall 2002 Midterm Examples: Josh Goodall : "The Mystery of the Mastery" [on Chekhov's "The Lady with the Little Dog"] Christalyn Grantier : "Plot vs. Point of View in Chopin's 'Story of An Hour'" Jennifer Stewart : "Literary Analysis of Maupassant's 'The Necklace'" Ruzha Todorova : "A Cure for Temporary Depression" [on Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"] Sheena Van Landuyt : "Hidden Labyrinth" [on Maupassant's "The Necklace"] Anonymous [CC]: [Untitled Essay on Chekhov's "The Lady with the Little Dog"]
© 2003, Josie Fenner Top of this page
© 2003, Tonya Flowers Top of this page
© 2003, Melanie Price Top of this page
© 2003, Arielle Samuel Top of this page
© 2003, Matthew Welch Top of this page
Josh Goodall ENG 104, Prof. C. Agatucci Midterm Literary Analysis Paper 4 November 2002
The Mystery of the Mastery Much of life results from choices we make. How we meet every circumstance, and also how we allow those circumstances to affect us dictates our life. In Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady With the Little Dog," we are given a chance to take a look inside two characters not unlike ourselves. As we are given insight into these two people, their character and nature unfolds, presenting us with people we can relate to. Even if we fail to grasp the fullness of a feeling or circumstance, we are still touched on our own level, evidencing the brilliance of Chekhov’s writing. In the exposition of the story, Chekhov immediately delves into his character generation, introducing us to both Anna Sergeevna and Dmitri Gurov, the main players in the story. He also gives us a physical description of Anna, as well as a beginning presentation of Dmitri’s character. Of Anna, Chekhov writes, “…a young woman, not very tall, blond, in a beret, walking along the embankment; behind her ran a white spitz” (Chekhov 144). Of Dmitri he comments, “Gurov, who had already spent two weeks in Yalta…began to take an interest in new faces” (Chekhov 144). Chekhov immediately offers a feel for how each character will shape up to be, and presents a chance for us (the reader) to attach ourselves to these perhaps not-so-unique individuals. Without further ado, Chekhov expounds on his initial description of Dmitri through the next five paragraphs. We learn that he is almost forty, has three children and a wife, but that he is not happy at home. He married early, and is not in love with his wife. He outwardly proclaims extreme chauvinism towards women, but we learn that “in the company of men he was bored, ill at ease, with them he was taciturn and cold, but when he was among women, he felt himself free and knew what to talk about with them and how to behave; and he was at ease even being silent with them” (Chekhov 144). Through this description, Dmitri gains a soul and personality. He becomes a round, developed character with whom we can relate and identify ourselves. Even if we are not completely like Dmitri, his “normal” character helps us to identify ourselves with him in some way. Chekhov’s ability to define character and produce an effect in the reader is not limited only to the description and action provided in the story. He expertly weaves location and setting into the development of theme. “Setting is essential if the reader is to be given the opportunity to glimpse a truth about the internal life from the characters and the plot” (Charters 1008). The story begins in Yalta, obviously in warmer weather, which sets a happy tone for the exposition. However, once the couple meets, the weather begins to change. “A week had passed since they became acquainted. It was Sunday. Inside it was stuffy, but outside the dust flew in whirls, hats blew off” (Chekhov 146). Chekhov illustrates how the characters are developing through the change in the weather. In the beginning, when the relationship is mostly superficial, the sun is shining, and it’s a nice time for a stroll. However, as the adulterous relationship continues, the weather become tumultuous, foreshadowing the turmoil that will soon begin inside both Anna and Dmitri. After the lovers commit their adulterous deeds, “when they went out, there was not a soul on the embankment, the town with its cypresses looked completely dead…” (Chekhov 147), indicating the death inside both the lovers. There is no turning back at this point, and death may loom ahead. Through the environment the characters live in, we learn what they are going through, and understanding of the characters expand beyond mere words and actions. The brilliance of Chekhov’s writing cannot be overstated. In “The Lady with the Little Dog” there is an untypical depth to the relationship between Anna and Dmitri. While the plot itself may be little more than that of a soap opera, the development and depth to which the characters are taken is far beyond any afternoon television program. As Richard Ford says, Chekhov “concentrates [his] narrative attentions not on the conventional hot spots – sex, deceit, and what happens at the end – but rather, by its precision, pacing, and decisions about what to tell, it directs our interest toward those flatter terrains of a love affair where we, being conventional souls, might overlook something important” (871). Sex, lies, and deceit do take place, but they are all off stage. Chekhov takes this critical time to develop character, showing us what is going on inside the souls of the adulterers, rather than sensationalizing on the outside events that are all too popular in today’s society (as well as back when the story was written). Although Chekhov’s story is filled with complex issues of moral struggle and turmoil, it is a story we can all relate to. Everyone faces difficult decisions in life, and Chekhov brings the inner mayhem to light. Focus upon people rather than events impacts us in ways we cannot even describe. We are connected to the people in the story as we identify with the feelings and personalities of these fictional characters. “Everything that he [Gurov] found important, interesting, necessary, in which he was sincere and did not deceive himself, which constituted the core of his life, occurred in secret from others” (Chekhov 154). We are forced to reflect upon circumstances in our own lives, and all of life’s little nuances become significant once we realize that they affect the fiber of our being. Chekhov attracts “attention to mature feelings, to complicated human dilemmas, any part of which, were we to encounter them in our complex, headlong life with others, might evade even sophisticated notice” (Ford 869). We become more sensitive to human interaction, and begin to empathize with others, beyond the mere situation, and their deep inner struggles. Without the brilliant illustration of Chekhov’s characters, we would miss much of the meaning of the story. “The importance of being honest with your feelings” could be a theme in “The Lady with the Little Dog.” If Chekhov did not produce such dynamic, realistic characters, we might be insensitive to the true feelings of Anna and Dmitri. This character development is essential to understanding of the theme. “And only now, when his head was gray, had he really fallen in love as one ought to – for the first time in his life” (Chekhov 155). Chekhov tells the reader, “It’s not too late. ‘Even when [your] head [is] gray’ you can still find true love.” Once the reader has identified with the character, they begin to take the practice (and success) of the character to bear in their own life. The theme is fully digested, and creates inspiration in the reader to begin their own quest for truth. Works Cited Charters, Ann, ed. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin’s, 2002. Chekhov, Anton. “The Lady with the Little Dog.” Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 6 th ed. Boston; Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002. 143-155. Ford, Richard. “Why We Like Chekhov.” Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 6 th ed. Boston; Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002. 143-155.
© 2002, Josh Goodall Top of this page
Christalyn Grantier ENG 104, Prof. C. Agatucci Midterm Literary Analysis Paper 4 November 2002
Plot vs. Point of View in Chopin's "Story of An Hour"
Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour” tells the tale of an evolution of a character in a single hour. Chopin accomplishes this by using a specific point of view and unique plot to carry out her vision. These elements work together to create a theme that has the greatest impact on the reader. Ann Charters defines “point of view” as “the author’s choice of narrator for the story”(1009). “The Story of an Hour” is told from the viewpoint of a third-person narrator. This speaker is a “non-participant in the story” (Charters 1009). Never does the narrator include herself in the plot of “Hour.” Specifically, this speaker has only “limited omniscience” as she relates the story. According to Charters, a speaker with limited omniscience is able to know what is going on in the mind of a single character, but not have a full understanding of, or chooses not to reveal to the readers, the minds of all the characters (Charters 1009). For example, the emotions and thoughts of Mrs. Mallard are fully described within the story. We see her grief, but also the thoughts of freedom that begin to come to her mind (Chopin 157-8). Because the narrator does not show all the aspects of the story, it allows the fact of her husband being alive to be a surprise (Chopin 158). The narrator, because he or she is not a member of the story, may be able to be trusted more by the reader than a person involved directly in the story (Charters 1010). The narrator is considered more “objective” (Agatucci 4). The author, Kate Chopin, was a great admirer of Guy de Maupassant, a writer of the realist genre (Agatucci 4). Maupassant stated that “The writer’s goal is to reproduce this illusion of life faithfully…” (Maupassant 898). Chopin used a point of view in “Story of an Hour” very similar to that of Maupassant when he wrote “The Necklace.” The author’s factual account allows a reader to experience this “illusion of life”. According to Maupassant, a writer should find a new way of looking at a situation (Charters 523). Chopin, in attempting to imitate the genre embraced by this author, looked at a situation of the death of a husband in a unique way. She accomplished this by presenting the true feelings of a widow and contrasting those feelings with society’s beliefs. Working in the realistic genre, Chopin presented a more “disillusioned” view of life (Agatucci 4). Chopin did not portray the accepted norms of society. She did not state that the wife could not go on without her husband. By contrast, she viewed her story with a new concept, that of a wife feeling empowered to go on living because her husband was no longer alive. The thoughts and actions of these characters can be seen in the development of the plot. Point of view is how a reader is able to look into a story; the plot is the arrangement of the incidents themselves (Charter 1003, 1009). Charters defines plot as “the sequence of events in a story and their relation to one another as they develop and usually resolve a conflict”(1003). The sequences within this story are quite short because this story occurs in the course of a single hour. The conflict present in this story is all within the protagonist, “the main character of [the] narrative” (Charters 1051). Without the view which allows the reader to see inside the mind of Mrs. Mallard, the reader would not be aware of the true conflict. Without this insight, a reader might assume, like Mrs. Mallard’s sister, that the conflict of the wife was the grief associated with her husband’s death (Chopin 158). The point of view allows the reader to see the true conflict within the plot and to sense the freedom that is eventually embraced by the protagonist (Chopin 158). The life of the author seems to have an impact on the plot. Kate Chopin had a very similar experience as Mrs. Mallard in the tragic death of her father. Chopin’s father perished when she was young in a train accident (Chopin 157; and “Katherine Chopin”). Also, she did not begin writing until after her mother and husband had both passed away (“Katherine Chopin”). She herself stated that “If it were possible for my husband and my mother to come back to earth, I feel that I would unhesitatingly give up every thing that has come into my life since they left it and join my existence again with theirs. To do that, I would have to forget the past ten years of my growth -- my real growth” (O'Brien). This suggests Chopin sympathized with Mrs. Mallard, who had found new freedom in the death of a loved one (Chopin 158). Kate Chopin had a bicultural background. According to Contemporary Authors , this author’s great-grandmother related stories of her ancestors, including those about “notorious infidels” (“Katherine Chopin”). This may have given Chopin confidence to explore topics not generally discussed by the society of her day. The plot itself has some very distinct characteristics that are of the literary realism genre. First, it is believable. Most people believe that heart disease and train accidents do exist (Chopin 157). Authors writing within this style often chose to look at the nature of human beings (Agatucci 3). The entire plot of “Story of An Hour” is that of describing the nature of the characters. The plot begins by depicting the reaction of Mrs. Mallard’s sister and Mr. Mallard’s friend (Chopin 157). The evolution of the emotional nature of Mrs. Mallard is described as she sits alone (Chopin157-158). Finally, we see the nature of society at that time, totally ignorant of the true feelings felt by the wife about her husband. Agatucci describes this impact on characters such as Mrs. Mallard as “ordinary people of contemporary times live it in society, caught up by social…forces” (3). The social forces of this time included, what could be referred to as society’s “repression” of women. Seyersted describes this time period as a society in which “a society where man makes the rules, woman is often kept in a state of tutelage and regarded as property or as a servant”. Seyersted quotes Chopin herself in saying, “As Mme. de Stael's Corinne is told: Whatever extraordinary gifts she may have, her duty and ‘her proper destiny is to devote herself to her husband and to the raising of her children’.” This type of society had a great impact on the plot of this story. The reader can better understand the situation of Mrs. Mallard. Her destiny was that of devoting herself to her husband. Even though she loved him and would weep upon seeing him dead, she welcomed the “procession of years that would belong to her absolutely” (Chopin 158). Maureen Anderson refers to Chopin as having an “authorial skill through which she elegantly addresses society's flaws” present in all her works. In conclusion, both the point of view and the plot of “Story of an Hour” work to create the theme of this story. Theme is “a generalization about the meaning of a story” (Charters 1013). The theme of Chopin’s story is how ignorant society was at that time of the true feelings experienced by repressed women. First, the point of view allows us to see the inner emotions expressed by Mrs. Mallard. Without a speaker with limited omniscience, a reader would never realize what was truly being felt by the protagonist, and the theme would be lost. Because the narrator is outside the story and could be considered more objective, the reader is more likely to believe that these feelings experienced by Mrs. Mallard are true. If Mrs. Mallard or the sister had told the story, readers would have gotten two different, biased accounts. The point of view allows a reader to feel that this really could have happened, an “illusion of life”, thereby making the theme more powerful. The plot allows Mrs. Mallard to explore her feelings of repression and finally accept the fact that she can rejoice in the freedom of being a widow (Chopin 158). The surprise ending, the return of Mr. Mallard and the death of Mrs. Mallard, gives the reader a chance to understand the ironic beliefs of society (Chopin 158). The irony can be seen in the totally contradictory feelings of the protagonist and society. Mrs. Mallard, upon seeing her husband alive, was suddenly thrown back into a situation in which she had “thought with a shudder that life might be long” (Chopin 158). It was this great shock and grief that led to her death, not the “joy that kills” (Chopin 158).
Agatucci, Cora. (Professor of English, Humanities Dept., Central Oregon Community College). “Emergence of the Short Story: Literary Romanticism and Realism- Poe and Maupassant; Myth Lit. Theory”. In-Class Presentation, English 104: Introduction to Literature-Fiction, Central Oregon Community College [Bend, OR]. Fall 2002. Handout. Anderson, Maureen. “Unraveling the Southern Pastoral Tradition: A New Look at Kate Chopin's At Fault .” Southern Literary Journal 34.1: 1-14. Rpt. Ebsco Host Academic Search Elite , 2001; Article No. 6124416. Charters, Ann. “Appendix 3: The Elements of Fiction.” The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Compact 6 th Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 1003-1015. Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour”. [First published 1894.] Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 6 th Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 157-158. “Katherine Chopin, 1851-1904.” [New Entry: 28 Apr. 1998.] Contemporary Authors Online . The Gale Group, 2000. Rpt. Gale Literature Resource Center [Online Subscription Database]. The Gale Group, 2002. Maupassant, Guy de. “The Writer’s Goal”. [First published 1888.] Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 6 th Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 896-898. O'Brien, Sharon. “Bored Wives and Jubilant Widows”. The New York Times 30 Dec. 1990, late. ed., sec. 7: 10. Rpt. Lexis-Nexis . 28 Oct. 2002. Seyersted, Per. [Excerpt from] Kate Chopin: A Critical Biography . Louisiana State University Press, 1969. 246. Rpt. World Literature Criticism Supplement , Vol.1. Gale Literature Resource Center [Online Subscription Database]. The Gale Group, 2002.
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Jennifer Stewart ENG 104, Prof. C. Agatucci Revised Midterm Literary Analysis Paper 25 November 2002 Literary Analysis of Maupassant's "The Necklace" One of Guy De Maupassant's literary influences was Gustave Flaubert, who taught him to write. Flaubert's teaching principles suggested that the "writer must look at everything to find some aspect of it that no one has yet seen or expressed," thus providing the reader a new or different view of life (Charters, "Maupassant" header 523). Maupassant succeeded in being a writer "who had entered into himself and looked out upon life through his own being and with his own eyes," according to Kate Chopin (861). He wrote "realistic fiction" and greatly influences writers still (Charters, "Brief History" 998). "The Necklace" was written in the 19 th century Literary Realism period. The story focuses on "everyday events, lives, [and the] relationships of middle/lower class," and it provides a glimpse of normal people and how they are influenced by "social and economic forces" (Agatucci 4). The meaning of " The Necklace " is developed through the depiction of the characters and the plot of the story. Maupassant stated that the story is not only a form of entertainment but a tool "to make us think and to make us understand the deep and hidden meaning of events" ("Writer's" 896). I found that the theme of "The Necklace" exhibits the importance of honesty and being happy with who you are. It shows that things are not always what they seem, material things do not define the person and that money cannot solve all problems and may in fact create them. Donald Adamson describes the main character, Mathilde, as a "poor but an honest woman," I disagree with his opinion. Mathilde's dishonesty changes her life and forces her to know "the horrible existence of the needy" (Maupassant 528). "The Necklace" is a story about Mathilde, a miserable and selfish wife of a "little clerk" who suffers "from the poverty of her dwelling," and dreams of a rich and elegant lifestyle where she is beautiful and "envied" (Maupassant, "Necklace", 524). This conflict within Mathilde drives her throughout the story. Her dedicated husband, M. Loisel, is content with their life and wishes to make her happy despite everything he must endure. After obtaining an invitation to a ball that was an "awful trouble to get," he eagerly takes it home to his wife who is ungrateful because she does not feel that she has anything suitable to wear (525). After having a new dress made, Mathilde can't imagine going to the ball without "a single jewel" so she borrows a beautiful necklace from her friend Mme. Forestier (526). The day of the ball proved to be everything Mathilde imagined, but it all ends when she loses the necklace. Although M. Loisel and Mathilde find a replacement necklace, they spend "ten years in grinding poverty until they finally paid off their debt," only to discover that the necklace was not a diamond necklace but just "mere costume jewellery" (Adamson). Charters defines plot as the "sequence of events in a story and their relation to one another as they develop and usually resolve a conflict" ("Elements" 1003). In the exposition of "The Necklace," Maupassant provides a detailed "character portrait" of Mathilde and offers some important details about M. Loisel (Adamson). It is obvious that conflict exists inside of Mathilde. She feels she is too good for the life she leads. She is unhappy with who she is and dreams of being someone else. On the contrary, M. Loisel is happy and satisfied to come home to his wife who prepares him an "economical but tasty meal" (Smith). Mathilde is very materialistic and believes that riches would end her suffering, she won't even visit a rich friend and "former classmate at the convent" because she is so jealous and envious. The rising action of the plot begins when M. Loisel presents the invitation to Mathilde. This presentation only aggravates the conflict that exists within Mathilde and she cannot imagine going to the ball in any of her old dresses. Mathilde sheds two pitiful tears and M. Loisel "quickly decides to sacrifice his savings" so that she may purchase a new dress (Smith). Mathilde is not satisfied with just a new dress! She believes it would be a disgrace to show up at the ball without jewelry. She must not "look poor among other women who are rich" (Maupassant 526). So she borrows a "superb necklace of diamonds" from Mme. Forestier (526). In this passage Maupassant convinces the reader that the necklace is real diamonds; "he misleads the reader into believing that the necklace really is valuable" (Adamson). This creates more excitement for the climax of the story when Mathilde loses the necklace on her way home from the ball. M. Loisel responds by going to search for the necklace to no avail. He does not find the necklace and instructs Mathilde to lie to Mme. Forestier and tell her that she has broken the necklace and will need time to have it repaired. If Mathilde would have chosen to be honest at this point, Mme. Forestier would have told her that the necklace was only "paste…worth at most five hundred francs" (530). Instead they find a suitable replacement necklace that costs thirty-six thousand francs. After one week M. Loisel "had aged five years," and was forced to use his inheritance and borrow money "risking his signature without even knowing if he could meet it" to buy the replacement necklace (Maupassant, "Necklace" 528). Upon returning the necklace to her friend, Mathilde discovered the "horrible existence of the needy" (528). They "dismissed their servant" and gave up their flat. Mathilde became a "woman of impoverished households - strong and hard and rough" (529). She was forced to haggle and defend their "miserable money" (529). It took them ten years to pay off all of their debts. Mathilde was no longer pretty and charming, she now had "frowsy hair… and red hands" (529). These trials and tribulations represent the falling action of the story, where the conflict is moving toward a resolution (Charters, "Elements" 1005). Guy De Maupassant's narrator and Donald Adamson use the term hero when describing Mme. Loisel, but I do not feel that her actions were heroic. She was just fulfilling the duties that were always expected of her, but that she felt she was too good for. I do not believe that dishonesty is a trait of a hero. Perhaps if Mathilde would have been honest with Mme. Forestier from the beginning about losing the necklace, she would have explained that it was not real diamonds and they could have avoided all of the hardships they endured. Some may argue that Mathilde was heroic because she took responsibility for her mistake, gave up her lifestyle and worked to repay the debt. It was admirable that she did not expect her husband to bear the burden alone. The conclusion of "The Necklace" undoubtedly contains an element of surprise. Mathilde discovers that the necklace was not made of diamonds, but imitation gems. This devastating discovery leaves many unanswered questions. Maupassant's narrator uses limited omniscient narration by describing Mathilde with her thoughts. She is a round character capable of choosing alternative responses to the situations presented to her (Charters, "Elements" 1007). I believe Mathilde is both a dynamic and a static character. She is dynamic because she does undergo a significant change and takes on the duties of a poverty stricken housewife. Yet she remains static in that she is still not content with her life and dreams of that "gay evening long ago, of that ball where she had been so beautiful" (Maupassant, "Necklace" 529). Her husband M. Loisel is also a round character, the "play and pull of his actions and responses to situations" could be observed throughout the story (Charters, "Elements" 1007). When Mathilde is unhappy with the invitation to the ball he offers to buy her a new dress. When she wants jewelry he recommends borrowing from Mme. Forestier and when she loses the necklace he collects the money to replace it. Although M. Loisel does experience some change, he is a static character. I believe he is content and happy with his life throughout the story. He continues to work hard and stays dedicated to Mathilde. The themes of "The Necklace" are evident throughout the plot of the story. If only Mathilde would have been honest with Mme. Forestier and happy with who she was, she could have prevented the whole ordeal. Her misfortune proves to the reader that honesty is the best choice. Maupassant warns the reader of the afflictions that vanity may cause. There was no need for Mathilde to wear a diamond necklace; she was too concerned about what others would think of her. The fake diamond necklace proves that things are not always what they seem, although Mme. Forestier appeared to be rich, she chose or may have only been able to afford costume jewelry. I believe "The Necklace" serves as a reminder of the importance of being happy and proud of who we are regardless of the amount of material things or money that we possess. Works Cited Adamson, Donald. ""The Necklace': Overview." Reference Guide to World Literature . 2 nd ed. Ed. Lesley Henderson. St. James Press, 1995. Rpt. Gale Literature Resource Center [Outline Subscription Database]. The Gale Group, 2002. Agatucci, Cora (Professor of English, Humanities Dept., Central Oregon Community College). "Emergence of the Short Story: Literary Romanticism and Realism - Poe and Maupassant; Myth Lit. Theory." Week #4 Presentation/Handout Outline. Charters, Ann. "Appendix 2: A Brief History of the Short Story." The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin's, 2003. 995-1002. Charters, Ann. "Appendix 3: The Elements of Fiction." The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin's, 2003. 1003-1015. Charters, Ann. "Guy De Maupassant" [header note]. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin's, 2003. 523. Charters, Ann. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin's, 2003. Chopin, Kate. "How I stumbled upon Maupassant." [First published 1896] Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact Sixth ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003. Maupassant, Guy De. "The Necklace." [First published 1884.] Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact Sixth ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003. 524-530. Maupassant, Guy De. "The Writer's Goal." [First published 1888.] Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact Sixth ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003. 896-898. Smith, Christopher. "The Necklace': Overview." Reference Guide to Short Fiction . Ed. Noelle Watson, St. James Press, 1994. Rpt. Gale Literature Resource Center [Online Subscription Database.] The Gale Group, 2002.
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Ruzha Todorova ENG 104, Prof. C. Agatucci Literary Analysis Paper 4 November 2002 A Cure for Temporary Depression The Yellow Wallpaper , written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a story of a young depressed woman, traveling to the country with her husband, so that she can be away from writing, which seems to have a bad impact on her psychological condition. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar call it ”a striking story of female confinement and escape, a paradigmatic tale which (like Jane Eyre) seems to tell the story that all literary women would tell if they could speak their ‘speechless woe’” (874). In this story theme and point of view interlace and work together to create an intense description of an almost prison-like prescription for overcoming depression. She struggles with male oppression, because she is told by her husband and her brother many things about her own health that she disagrees with. She strives for independence, and she wants to break free from the bondages of that oppression. The story is written from the character’s point of view in a form resembling journal entries, which describe her stay in the house. The house itself is an old mansion, and the yellow wallpaper in the character’s bedroom seems to be really disturbing. She believes that there is a woman locked behind bars living in the pattern of that wallpaper. She spends a lot of time trying to figure it out, and in the end she completely breaks away even from her own mind. Ann Charters defines theme as the “generalization about the meaning of a story” (1013). The theme in The Yellow Wallpaper describes the struggle of women to live in a male-dominated society. Gilman portrays the man as insensitive and lacking in emotional support. From the beginning of the story forward the narrator speaks of how her husband and other men in her life direct her so that she will recover quickly. The narrator shows that even though she is convinced that she knows what to do about her depression, she is still influenced by her husband with the following passage: "I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus – but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad" (306). Her husband seems to be the one who can change her thoughts because he is a man or because he is her husband. Nonetheless, she is still being suppressed by a member of the opposite sex. Many times the narrator also speaks in a way that suggests that because a man speaks she has no means by which to disagree with him because she is a woman. A perfect example of this is presented in the beginning passages of the story, where the narrator states, "Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?" (306). This last sentence "But what is one to do?" exemplifies wonderfully her oppressed female stature in the society of her life. She states right from the beginning that "John is a physician, and perhaps - (I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind) - perhaps that is the one reason I do not get well faster" (306). She obviously loves her husband and trusts him but has some underlying feeling that maybe his prescription of total bed rest is not working for her. In the second passage the narrator becomes comfortable with the room, now she likes the room enough and is curious enough to open up to her husband and tell him what she thinks she has been seeing. John becomes terrified of these ideas she has in her head and what she might believe to be real and not real. He begins to plead with her and tries to convince her that she must control all of her ambitions and act sanely. Later John is trying to manipulate the narrator with guilt. He is implying that she must think of herself as getting better, mind and body, for the sake of other people, rather than herself. The narrator is, however, doubting that she will ever recover mentally. Although John says her appearance has improved, she believes that she is not physically better. The final passages of the story, at last, successfully manifest a display of power and possible regain of self-governance through the narrator's finally standing up to her husband by locking him out of the room in which he has imprisoned her supposedly for her benefit. Whereupon, for the first time in the story, he must listen to her entreaties to discover where the key is hidden (317). According to Charters, point of view is “the author’s choice of a narrator for the story” (1009). In this story the narrator is a first person narrator. We can easily see what is going on the head of the main character. We can feel sorry for her because she is a victim of male oppression. However, we are presented with a biased story. We can only see the events that take place from her point of view, which turns out to be quite distorted. She stares at this wallpaper for hours on end and thinks she sees a woman behind the paper. "I didn't realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman" (313). She becomes obsessed with discovering what is behind that pattern and what it is doing. "I don't want to leave now until I have found it out" (314). Once the narrator determines that the image is in fact a woman struggling to become free, she somehow aligns herself with the woman. We don’t see that until she mentions that she often sees the woman creeping outside: "I see her in that long shaded lane, creeping up and down. I see her in those dark grape arbors, creeping all around the garden.... I don't blame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight! I always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can't do it at night, for I know John would suspect something at once" (315). This shows the narrator seeing herself in the woman and when she sees the woman creeping outside, she sees herself. When she creeps outside she locks the door. She is afraid her husband will take away the only comfort she has. She continues to pursue this obsessive idea that she has to get the woman out. The narrator wants the woman to be free of the paper but does not want to let her go, because the woman is what keeps her focused and sane: "I don't want to go out, and I don't want to have anybody come in, till John comes. I want to astonish him. I've got a rope up here that even Jennie did not find. If that woman does get out, and tries to get away, I can tie her!" (317). She peels all the wallpaper that she can reach. She wants to help the woman get out, and she becomes quite extreme: "I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the window would be admirable exercise, but the bars are too strong even to try. Besides I wouldn't do it. Of course not. I know well enough that a step like that is improper and might be misconstrued" (317). She goes on to say, "I don't like to look out of the windows even--there are so many those creeping women, and they creep so fast. I wonder if they all come out of that wallpaper as I did?” (317). It seems she has released the woman and it is indeed herself. As if she enjoys being out and doing as she likes but at night her husband will be around and she mustn't creep around her husband. He might find her mad. But at last she finds the courage to confront her oppressor and stand up for herself. "'What is the matter?' he cried. 'For God's sake, what are you doing!' I kept on creeping just the same, but I looked at him over my shoulder. 'I've got out at last,' said I, 'in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!'” (318). Jane is undoubtedly the narrator herself. She is the result of a distorted mind trying to free herself from the male oppression. From the narrator’s point of view we had this fact hidden throughout the story. However, as soon as her mind has freed itself, she had freed herself both from her husband and from her own identity. In order to read and understand this story, we must consider many things. First the time frame in which the story was written, and that society's attitude of the story content at that time. Written in 1892, a woman suffering from depression was not clearly understood and was treated with isolation. This would clearly drive any person mad. The narrator made attempts to bring to her husband's attention what she felt was a better way of making her better but he refused to listen and ignored her wishes to involve herself in more activity. This was the experience of Gilman herself. She shares that she wrote The Yellow Wallpaper “to save people from being crazy” (879).
Charters, Ann. “The Elements of Fiction”. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 1003 – 1015. Gilbert, Sandra m., and Gubar, Susan. “A Feminist Reading of Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.” [First published 1979.] Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 873 – 875. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” [First published 1892.] Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 306 – 318. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.” [First published 1913.] Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 878 – 879.
© 2002, Ruzha Todorova
Sheena Van Landuyt ENG 104, Prof. C. Agatucci Literary Analysis Paper 27 November 2002 HIDDEN LABYRINTH To complete a puzzle properly each and every piece must be accounted for; otherwise the final product is never comprehensive. A puzzle with missing pieces is very much like a story with missing elements. Every element plays an important role in the meaning and the integrity of the story. Clearly, with a puzzle there are pieces that are more consequential if missing than others. Just like a puzzle there are significant elements in a story that make a big difference. If such elements are removed some of the realistic aspects a story needs for readers to be able to relate are missing as well. Although there are many elements that go into a story there are two that are profoundly important to have in a story. These two elements are recognized as the plot and characters. A plot can be described as the “sequence of events in a story and there relation to one another as they develop and usually resolve a conflict” (Charters, “Elements” 1003). It is usually desirable for the author to present the plot in the beginning of the story, laid out so readers can easily follow the events and their significance (Charters, “Elements” 1003). The conflict within the story is profoundly important to how the plot is going to be laid out since the plot itself is usually impacted by the conflict throughout the story. This point can be seen in Maupassant’s “The Necklace” extremely well. In the beginning of the story “The Necklace” Maupassant lays out the foundation of the conflict for his readers. Mme. Loisel is a pretty woman who longs for something more than she has and she pays for this throughout the story ( Maupassant 524). This internal conflict expands throughout the entire story. Mme. Loisel wants to be richer but she is married to a clerk and is far from rich (Maupassant 524). This first conflict illustrated by Maupassant drives the story very well. The second conflict presented in “The Necklace” was when the dinner invitation came. This conflict seems to be more external, because it is not a conflict Mme. Loisel has been struggling with internally for years. However, when the dinner invitation is presented another conflict is introduced. Mme. Loisel wants to attend this elaborate dinner, but not unless she can be in the most magnificent clothing and jewelry (Maupassant 525). This point is well illustrated when Mme. Loisel states, “there is nothing more humiliating than to look poor among other women who are rich” (Maupassant 526). Continuously after these two conflicts are introduced, she is introduced to more that get her into trouble. Thus the conflict within the story is driving the plot and consistently reappearing (Charters, “Elements” 1003). Within the plot there are components that are critically important when exploring a story. These components consist of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and conclusion (Charters, “Elements” 1004-1005). Exposition includes the “introduction of characters, scene, time, and situation (Charters, “Elements” 1004). In “The Necklace” the exposition seemed to be in the beginning when the introduction of Mme. Loisel is taking place. At this point the author gives only a brief background of the past and present dimensions of her life (Maupassant 524). The rising action of a story is generally “the dramatization of events that complicate the situation and gradually intensify the conflict” (Charters, “Elements” 1005). In “The Necklace” this point would be when the couple is invited to the dinner party the reader can not tell at this point that the invitation is significant but it is (Maupassant 525). The climax can basically be described as the “turning point” in the story (Charters, “Elements” 1005). The climax is this particular story would surely be when Mme. Loisel discovers her necklace as missing (Maupassant 527). The falling action moves the conflict towards a solution (Charters, “Elements” 1005). In Mme. Loisel’s case this would be when she sees her friend Mme. Forestier on the street and confronts her. Once the conclusion sets in and ties together all the loose strings, the reader get the surprise that the necklace was fake the entire time (Maupassant 530). As one can see the plot plays a huge role in the development of a short story. Another important aspect of developing a short story is the character developed in the context of the story. It is important that characters be realistic in any story. Writers can accomplish the task of reality by making the characters either dynamic or static (Charters, “Elements” 1007). A static character is one that does not change throughout the story, while a dynamic character changes. Mme. Loisel is both a static and dynamic character. Mme. Loisel changes when the necklace disappears making her dynamic. This is true in the beginning she is from lower middle class where she has a comfortable home and servants (Maupassant 524). However, when the necklace disappears and must be replaced, she is forced to release her servants and change her lodging in order to pay off her debts. This change in Mme. Loisel is permanent thus making her a dynamic character (Maupassant 528). It is also easy for one to see Mme. Loisel as a static character also. This is due to the fact that Mme. Loisel never really changes in some aspects. Throughout the entire story she is envious of other people. One can see this at the beginning of the story with the introduction of the invitation. At this point Mme. Loisel insists on an expensive dress and necklace (Maupassant 525-526). It can also be seen at the end of the story when Mme. Loisel sees her friend Jeanne again for the first time in awhile and is still envious of her wealth and beauty. This aspect of Mme. Loisel’s character also makes her static (Maupassant 529-530). One can see how the plot and characters’ play an important role together in shaping the story and laying it out for the reader to understand. The plot helps to set the conflict, which in turn drives the plot as well as characters actions and motives. As an author, having the ability to integrate such important elements of a story successfully can be very difficult. Guy De Maupassant was not a naturally gifted writer, which makes the morals and outline of his stories even more believable (Charters, “Guy De” 523). Maupassant had difficulties in school while he was younger, which may explain why he joined the army during the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War (Charters, “Guy De” 523). Maupassant was later taught how to write by a relative of the name Gustave Flaubert. Maupassant recalled writing, “verses, short stories, longer stories, even a wretched play. Nothing survived. The master read everything” (Charters, “Guy De” 523). It seemed that Maupassant was not a natural talent when it came to writing, which makes his writing meaningful because he must have struggled to write well and overcame the challenge. Flaubert instructed Maupassant that “talent is nothing other than a long patience. Work” (Charters, “Guy De” 523). This may be an important aspect of Maupassant’s life to examine. Maupassant writings seem to be packed with morals and hidden messages possibly due to lessons installed by Flaubert. Another important lesson Flaubert tried to install in his pupil was to look at everything within the context of any literary work and discover the one component that every other reader has missed. Flaubert explained the fact that every piece has some hidden labyrinth or message unexplored (Charters, “Guy De” 523). The lessons installed in Maupassant by Flaubert may be a large factor in the way he wrote. Since Flaubert focused so much on details and hidden unexplored messages, it is easy to see why there are so many subtle clues in “The Necklace” that readers can discover and interpret as they wish. Another important influence on Maupassant’s writing may simply be the era he was living in while he composed his stories. Ann Charters explains that “Maupassant’s plots are tightly organized and usually conclude with a decisive action” (Charters, “Brief History” 998). Maupassant plays close attention to physical and mental details. As a writer he favors a surprise ending, as one can tell by the ending of “The Necklace” (Charters, Brief History 998). Maupassant’s literary era could be classified primarily as 19 th Century Literary Realism (Agatucci 3). This period of literature involved real people with everyday events in which ordinary people could relate. Also this period places a large importance on classes and relationships between upper and lower classes, which is what Maupassant does extremely well (Agatucci 3). Maupassant is an exceptional writer and as explained in her essay “How I Stumbled upon Maupassant,” Kate Chopin explains how readers may not realize just how wonderful he is until they truly understand him. Kate Chopin explains her findings of Maupassant’s writing as somewhat of an inspiration. Chopin believes that his writings do not speak to everyone as a group but to each reader individually, by what the reader sees and hears within the pages (Chopin 861). Chopin describes Maupassant “as a man who escaped from tradition and authority, who had entered into himself and look out upon life through his own being” (Chopin 861). It is almost as if Chopin found herself as a writer when she began to study Maupassant’s work. Also she sees him as secretly telling hints of his stories within the pages. Maupassant does not just come out and explain the important hidden messages within his stories; he expresses them through the feelings each reader experiences while reading his literature (Chopin 861). It takes many special components to write a story. Maupassant had the opportunity to show his readers the elegance of his writing. Maupassant had a gift at combining elements of fiction like characters and plot. Through the combination of his history, era and hard work he developed stories literature readers could enjoy and relate to for generations.
Works Cited to come . . .
© 2002, Sheena Van Landuyt
Anonymous #1 ENG 104, Prof. C. Agatucci Literary Analysis Paper 27 November 2002 [Untitled: On Chekhov's "The Lady with the Little Dog"] Anton Chekov is said to “ [to be] extremely modest about his extraordinary ability to empathize with the characters” that he wrote about in his stories (Charters, 134). He was careful not stereotype any of the characters he portrayed nor did he over dramatize the story’s plot. The characters emotions and reactions to those emotions were the vehicle for the stories plot. Chekov’s only desired to write about real people with real feelings which allowed his writings such as “The Lady with the Little Dog”, the seriousness and sympathy it deserves. Chekov emphasized on the man and the woman always being “ the two pole [of every story] (p. 949). Just as there are pulls toward poles of the earth so are the pulls on the characters in his stories; these pulls being forces of life and life circumstance. “The Lady with the Little Dog” demonstrates how reality forces undesired role play between a man and woman in love which is one of the definitive of literary realism established by Professor Agatucci; “[The Lady with the Little Dog] is an example of “A slice of life” such as ordinary people of contemporary times live in society caught up by social forces” (p. 3). The story’s main characters, Anna and Dimitri, their desire to be together are conflicted with the duties they have in common which are husband and wife to two different people. However, the love that Dimitri and Anna share represents the struggle of duties just as the desire for most people in society to want to break from reality. Dimitri, unlike Anna, was not upset or regretful of their love affair because “he had begun to be unfaithful to [his wife] long ago, was unfaithful often, and, probably for that reason, almost always spoke ill of women, and when they were discussed in his presence, he would say of them: ‘An inferior race!’”(p.144). Dimitri was introduced in the story as taking on an egotistical and selfish role knowing very well that not only was he beyond so many years to Anna but also, “in his tone and caresses, there has been a slight shade of mockery, the somewhat coarse arrogance of a happy man” (p. 149). He seemed to have had his way with Anna and did not want to fall short of this good thing. In contrast, Anna responded in way that she was new to being unfaithful to her husband and maybe even realized that she was not Dimitri’s first mistress. She admits, “ I love an honest man, pure life, sin is vile to me, I myself don’t know what I’m doing”(p. 147). Anna knew right from the first day she met Dimitri that she loved him but those feelings over powered her judgment and duty to her husband. She could only try to justify that this was not real love that they shared but a scandalous and un-righteous thing to be apart of. Anna and Dimitri are considered to be dynamic characters because not only to do they change the way they feel about each other but they also change the way they feel about their life circumstances. Moreover, are also considered to be well-rounded characters encompassing the substance of the story Chekov intended. Dimitir’s wife is only mentioned a few times and is considered to be a flat character because we do not get a sense for how she reacts to Dimitri’s scandalous love affairs. However, we do have Dimitri’s point of view of her to be a woman “who loved without sincerity, with superfluous talk, affectedly, with hysteria, with an expression as if it were not passion” (p. 146). He obviously had a very superficial relationship with his wife that only made him compare his happiness and love with Anna. Anna followed Dimitri everywhere, he could hear her breathing and saw resemblances of her in the oddest of places (p.150). His life back home was boring and uninteresting to him. He only became so appreciative by Anna’s beauty and the excitement that he gave him when she was away. Meanwhile, Chekov did not explain to us the process by which she changed in her character however, Anna admitted that she adored him and he was all that she could think about. She realized her triteness before when she tried thought that she was just a “trashy woman”(p.147). Dimitri’s desire to find Anna after many years of being in Moscow is considered to be an important turning point in the story. Dimitri forfeits his strength that he could live without her because his emotions were too high strung and he valued being with her too intensely. After meeting up with Anna at the Geisha , he was able to test Anna and wait for her to reveal her true feeling so that he was not just imaging she was in love with him. And so the climax begins, Anna reveals, “ I think only of you all the time, I’ve lived with only thoughts of you.” Furthermore, the falling action of the story is the plan of continued rendezvous’ in Moscow secretly. He and Anna “loved each other like very close dear people, like husband and wife, like tender friends; it seemed to them that fate itself had destined them for each other, and they could not understand why he had a wife and she a husband” (p. 155). They were bound like soul mates and did want to live the false lives they had with people they were not in love with. So they knew that their problems were far from few and “ the most complicated and difficult part was just beginning” (p. 155). The conclusion of a “happy ending” is left by the reader to implore because Chekov left it open with a purpose. The purpose was to leave it less dramatic and predictable. The love that these two people shared simplified the term “ love is pain” but more importantly they finally found each other and they did not have to live in falsity. This true love was a new and treacherous territory that they did not want to avoid. The willingness they had caused them to want to break away from the roles that bound them for such a long time. Chekov showed transformation and humbleness of the characters in “The Lady with the Little Dog” and is a story that many could appeal to because of its deepest emotional level between the characters of Anna and Dimitri.
Agatucci, Cora (Professor of English, Humanities Dept., Central Oregon Community College). “Emergence of the Short Story: Literary Romanticism and Realism. Poe and Maupassant; Myth Lit. Theory.” In-class Presentation, English 104: Introduction to Literature: Fiction, Central Oregon Community College [Bend, OR.], Fall 2002. Online Handout –Outline [accessed] 21Oct. 2002: http://www.cocc.edu /cagatucci/classes/eng104coursepack/shortstory.htm Carver, Raymond. “The Ashtray.”[First published 1984] Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction . Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martins, 2003. 949. Chekov, Anton. “ The Lady with the Little Dog.” [First published 1899]. Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. Ed. Ann Charter. Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s 2003. 143-155. Ford, Richard. “ Why We Like Chekov”. [First published 1998] Rpt. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Story Fiction . Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 6 th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 869-873.
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