Composing A Good Literary Analysis Research Paper: Tips For Students

Your goal in a literary analysis essay is to analyze the text to highlight a specific aspect of it, or to argue something about it. Literary analysis papers are different than many other kinds of essays, in that they don’t require you to do outside research. Instead of finding sources to make your argument or to back up your argument, you should only draw evidence from the literary piece you are analyzing.

Use these tips on how to compose a good literary analysis paper:

  1. Identify the major themes in the work
  2. By identifying the major themes of the work, you’ll be able to choose a relevant and compelling topic for your paper. Common themes are often love, family, honor, money, and power. A simple strategy for a literary analysis paper is to choose one of these themes and show how it is dealt with in the text.

  3. Choose a clear thesis statement to sum up your argument and main points
  4. As with any good paper, you’ll want to start with a thesis statement that sums up what you are arguing or trying to show in your paper. It should be concise and outline your main points. Any easy way to think of it, is that someone should know what your paper is about, just by reading the thesis statement.

  5. Organize your paper by topic
  6. One way to organize a literary analysis paper is by topic. In this format, each body paragraph should deal with one of your main points. In each paragraph, you will pull evidence from the work to support your point. The sequence of the material from the original work doesn’t matter.

  7. Organize your paper by the sequence of the work
  8. Anther way to organize your paper is by the sequence of the work. This format is suitable if you are trying to show how something changes through the piece, so you’ll want to present evidence in the sequence in which it occurs in the piece.

  9. Try to show what the writer intended to do
  10. There is always an element of uncertainty in literature, whether what the reader perceives matches what the writer intended. It is easy to address what you, the reader, perceives. But it can make your essay more interesting if you address what you believe the author intended.

  11. Relate the work to its context
  12. Every literary work exists within a context: the historical period it was written in, the author’s life history, what else was going on in literature at the time. Analyzing the work in terms of its context can make for an interesting essay.