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A literary essay also isn’t like the kind of book report you wrote when you were younger, where your teacher wanted you to summarize the book’s action.
When you read a work of literature in an English class, however, you’re being asked to read in a special way: you’re being asked to perform literary analysis.
To analyze something means to break it down into smaller parts and then examine how those parts work, both individually and together.
These are the whats of the work—what happens, where it happens, and to whom it happens.
When you’ve examined all the evidence you’ve collected and know how you want to answer the question, it’s time to write your thesis statement.
When you read for pleasure, your only goal is enjoyment.
You might find yourself reading to get caught up in an exciting story, to learn about an interesting time or place, or just to pass time.Remember, you’re looking for something you can prove or argue based on evidence you find in the text.Finally, remember to keep the scope of your question in mind: is this a topic you can adequately address within the word or page limit you’ve been given?If it fascinated you, chances are you can draw on it to write a fascinating essay. Maybe you were surprised to see a character act in a certain way, or maybe you didn’t understand why the book ended the way it did.Confusing moments in a work of literature are like a loose thread in a sweater: if you pull on it, you can unravel the entire thing.” No one is born knowing how to analyze literature; it’s a skill you learn and a process you can master.As you gain more practice with this kind of thinking and writing, you’ll be able to craft a method that works best for you. Do yourself a favor and pick a topic that interests you.Literary analysis involves examining all the parts of a novel, play, short story, or poem—elements such as character, setting, tone, and imagery—and thinking about how the author uses those elements to create certain effects.A literary essay isn’t a book review: you’re not being asked whether or not you liked a book or whether you’d recommend it to another reader.If you can find a way to explain a work’s contradictory elements, you’ve got the seeds of a great essay.At this point, you don’t need to know exactly what you’re going to say about your topic; you just need a place to begin your exploration.