Literature analysis is the cornerstone of many college classes, in subjects ranging from English literature to history. Literature analysis papers as you to consider how and why a literary text was written and conveys some kind of message. The ability to take apart a text and break it down into its separate parts enables you to judge how effective an author’s argument is, what symbols or motifs are important throughout the novel, poem or other text, and ultimately, to understand the text in a more holistic way. Therefore, knowing how to craft a good argument and defend it well using textual evidence is an important skill to learn in preparing for your college career.
The most important things to consider when writing a literary analysis paper are: what is your argument? Are you expressing it correctly via a well-placed thesis statement? Do you support your argument well throughout your essay? Support for an argument typically involves using lots of evidence from the text in the form of quotations from a close reading of a passage (for more on how to successfully use quotations, see our “Integrating Quotations” support guide). Often this also involves reading, analyzing, and using outside research to support what you are arguing. Learning the basic structure of literary analysis will be helpful for writing many different kinds of essays.
Here are a few links to get you started on writing your literature analysis paper:
What is literature analysis (including a glossary of literary terms)?
- Purdue Owl: What Makes a Good Literature Paper?
- Roan State: The Elements of Literature
Tips on writing effective literature analysis essays.
- How to Write a Literature Analysis Essay Handout (from Bucks County Community College)
- Writing a Paper on Fiction in 9 Steps (from UNC Chapel Hill)
How do I support my argument?