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Steps to Writing a Literary Analysis Essay. Purpose O A literary analysis is not merely a summary of a literary work. O Instead, it is an argument about.

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Presentation on theme: "Steps to Writing a Literary Analysis Essay. Purpose O A literary analysis is not merely a summary of a literary work. O Instead, it is an argument about."— Presentation transcript:

1 Steps to Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

2 Purpose O A literary analysis is not merely a summary of a literary work. O Instead, it is an argument about the work that expresses a writer’s personal perspective, interpretation, judgment or critical evaluation of the work. O The purpose of a literary analysis is to demonstrate why the author used specific themes, character traits, settings, etc.

3  Read the text closely several times.  Brainstorm a list of potential topics (themes).  Think about what the author is trying to say.  Select a topic that has sufficient supporting evidence.  Develop a “working thesis”.  Make an extended list of evidence (we do this when we list the page numbers with text that corresponds with the themes noted). Narrow this list down to three scenes that are the strongest support for your working thesis.  Refine the thesis if needed.

4  The theme of a literary work is its underlying, central idea or the generalization it communicates about life.  The theme expresses the authors opinion or raises a question about human nature or the meaning of human experience.  Sometimes the theme may be clearly stated or is implied through the characterization, setting, events, POV, tone, etc.  One key to determining the theme(s) is through observing how many times a subject is discussed.

5  You cannot write a successful essay without a thesis statement.  A thesis statement must contain a subject and an opinion and be debatable.  A good thesis statement is typically short and simple. It should only be one sentence.  Determine what message the author is trying to say about the subject you have chosen to write about. Examples: Avoid a non-debatable thesis: Beowulf is a warrior who comes to save the Danish people from Grendel. Good Thesis Statement: The author of Beowulf shows that good triumphs over evil through the battle with Grendel, Grendel’s Mother and the dragon.

6  A successful statement is limited to one main idea. Good Example : The key to successful dieting is focusing on a specific goal. Bad Example: The key to successful dieting is focusing on a specific goal, which is also the key to successfully running a business. A successful thesis statement is a declarative sentence with no qualifiers (might, maybe, etc.) Good Example : Lebron James’ ability to score, pass and rebound make him the league’s most valuable player. Bad Example: Lebron James’ ability to score, pass and rebound just might make him the league’s most valuable player.

7  You first choose sufficient evidence from the text to support the thesis statement you have created. This will be the content of your three body paragraphs.  What scenes or lines support your statement?  Interpret the evidence (Be careful that your personal interpretation is an analysis or commentary NOT a summary.) Good example: Beowulf announces that he is capable of saving the Danes because he is a respected warrior. He notes, “However it occurred, my sword had killed nine sea-monsters” (Beowulf, pg 39). This fearless quote by Beowulf not only shows his confidence in himself, but clearly exemplifies one of his many great accomplishments.

8 Bad Example: Beowulf announces that he is capable of saving the Danes because he is a respected warrior. He notes, “However it occurred, my sword had killed nine sea-monsters” (Beowulf, pg 39). During this scene Beowulf and his warriors have landed on shore and are discussing his ancestry and past battles. This is summary, not analysis or commentary!

9  When writing a literary analysis it is important for writers to make sure they express their own interpretation of the authors ideas through their analysis of the scenes chosen in the three body paragraphs.  Analysis/commentary is a necessary component of this type of essay.  Commentary can be in the form of analysis, giving an interpretation, personal reaction and reflection.  Sportscasters are a great example of people who use commentary as opposed to summary or recall of events.  =related =related

10  Once you have refined your thesis statement and determined the evidence you will use, you need to complete a graphic organizer or outline.  The next step is to begin writing a rough draft that includes an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs and a conclusion.  Then you will be completing a self-editing checklist as well as having a peer edit your essay as well.

11 The opening paragraph contains the following: Attention grabbing opening Introduction of the title and author of the novel and 2-3 sentences with a summary or explanation of how the theme relates to the story. Thesis statement

12 “One of the most important things for writing a great opening sentence is to keep it short and simple. This is good advice for all writing; there are many posts on blogs out there advocating the use of short sentences and clear writing, but for the first sentence it is especially important.” You may use any of the following: Appropriate Quotation – “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself” (Joseph Campbell). Question – What qualities make a hero?  Definition - Hero came to refer to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater of all humanity (Webster Dictionary, 2010).  Statistic – According to the Home of Heroes website, there have been 3,476 Medals of Honor awarded in the United States Military.

13 According to Benjamin Disraeli, “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” Heroism is a main theme in the story Beowulf, author unknown. Ancestry and its legacy make the main character, Beowulf a hero from the beginning. His epic battles make other men idolize him for his bravery, but the story shows that Beowulf fought for glory rather than honor.

14  Each body paragraph includes the following: - Topic Sentence - Quote with page number - Analysis/Commentary (1-2 sentences) - Concluding sentence with transition words or phrases to lead to the next paragraph

15  Introduce your paragraph by announcing the scene you are using as your evidence. Good example - The first scene in which Beowulf displays his power over evil is when he battles the mighty Grendel and wins. Next include an appropriately cited quote. “No Dane doubted the victory, for the proof, hanging high from the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster’s arm, claw and shoulder and all” ( ). Then insert your analysis/commentary on that quote. Despite the strength of Grendel, the “almighty Beowulf” displays his superhuman strength to defeat the monster of the Danish people. This quote shows that Grendel could not have been defeated by any ordinary human being and that Beowulf was the only person alive that could have saved them.

16  In-text Example:  Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (263).  Romantic poetry is characterized by the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth 263).  Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).  Works Cited Entry: Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads. London: OxfordUP, Print.

17  Rephrase thesis in a fresh way  Statement about authors message  General connection to the world as a whole  Leave reader with something to think about Example: Beowulf’s character shows that he values recognition more than morality. The author shows that while Beowulf does save many of the Danes from death, people still want to be appreciated for the deeds they do. In the world that we live in today, heroes are still highly regarded and often times rewarded for their selflessness. Our society needs to remember to always treasure and honor those who are courageous.


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