3 The Literary Essay is an insightful, critical interpretation of a literary work. It is not a summary of plot, character or other elements of fiction in any given literary work.
4 …you provide your own formal interpretation and/or opinion of the topic …you use the literary work to prove or substantiate your understanding of the topic
5 …try to prove the plot – we know how the series of events unfolded because we read the book …need to prove that the characters, setting, or themes existed in the literary work
6 …allows you, the writer, to provide your own understanding of the literary work in a properly structured format.
7 …clearly introduces the topic, the literarywork, and the author. Example:To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee presents prejudice and discrimination of black people.The introduction allows you to give the reader the clear and specific direction of your essay.
8 …states the main purpose of the essay …is often stated in the LAST sentence of your introduction…answers the question:What will you prove/show through this essay about the literary work under discussion?
9 Writing Reminders Structure • End your introduction with a thesis statement that clearly states what your essay will prove. Example: Miss Strangeworth is proud know-it-all who is blind to the evil within herself.• Include transition words and phrases, especially when introducing supporting details.• End each body paragraph with a concluding sentence that explains how the supporting detail and quotation do in fact prove that your thesis statement is true.• Arrange body paragraphs in chronological order.Body paragraphs should be arranged so that they discuss the text using the order of events as they happened in the text.
10 Support: Using Quotations Provide context when introducing your quotations (in other words, give enough information that a person who has read the play will know what is happening in the play and who is speaking – do not give a plot summary)Use quotations from the story to enhance supporting details.> Quotations should accurately strengthen the point being made in the paragraph and should show how that point relates to the thesis statement.> Quotations should be about concepts/ideas. They SHOULD NOT simply report what happens in the story (plot exposition).> Quotations SHOULD NOT simply repeat what you have already explained in your own words.> Quotations do not have to be dialogue (words that a character speaks to another character). They absolutely can be, and usually will be, from the narrator and/or from stage directions.
11 Support: Using Quotations Properly punctuate quotations by surrounding with quotations marks and following with page # in parenthesis. Ending punctuation comes after parenthesis.Eg: Ralph writes his friend, “It's the only life, Billy--the straight one” (5).Changes to capitalization, word choice, and verb tense can be made to quotes to make them fit into your essay. Use square brackets -  – whenever changes need to be made. See how square brackets are used in the sample essay.Words can be removed from quotes by using ellipses (…).Quotes longer than 5 lines require special formatting – please ask or look it up!In each body paragraph, follow your quotation with elaboration that explains the significance/importance of what was said in the quotation.As much as possible, try to embed your quotes into your writing. Example: Miss Moore tells them “about what things cost and what [their] parents make and … in this country” (89). See the sample essay for more support in using quotes.
12 Writing StyleDO NOT USE first person (“I,” “in my opinion,” etc) and second person (“you”). When these pronouns are in the quotations you’ve chosen, leave them there.Use present tense verbs consistently throughout your essay.>WRONG WAY:Walter’s dream in A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, was deferred because his family did not support him. He wanted to become a rich and successful business owner, so he decided to buy a liquor store.>RIGHT WAY:Walter’s dream in A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, is deferred because his family does not support him. He wants to become a rich and successful business owner, so he decides to buy a liquor store.DO NOT USE contractions (isn’t, can’t, won’t, etc…) or slang (thrown under the bus, acts like jerk, etc…)