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How to Write a Literary Analysis

Literary analysis can be described as the study, evaluation and interpretation of literature. It involves investigating how the author of a piece of literature uses context, setting, tone, characters, plot among other literary techniques to create meaning. Students of literature are required to come up with a literary analysis from time to time. This is a guide on the steps a student should take when tackling a literary analysis or any other literature review assignment.

4 Main Parts of Your Literary Analysis Paper


A thesis statement is a sentence or two that summarizes the focus of your essay. When forming a thesis, you should think about the argument you intend to present, how you will approach it and the evidence you will use to support the argument. The thesis statement typically appears in the introductory paragraph.


The introduction to your literary analysis essay should be strong and captivating. You should use it to introduce the reader to your argument and give him a hint of how your essay will be structured. You can conclude the introductory paragraph with the thesis statement.


The body of your critical literary analysis is where you build and develop your argument. Write each major point in a separate paragraph, including all the supporting evidence from the piece of literature you are analyzing. Ensure that all your points fit in well with your thesis statement, excluding those that don’t. It is also important to make your body develop the argument cogently, so that the reader delves deeper into your thought process and analysis the further he reads. 

When presenting evidence from the literature piece to support a point, start with the evidence that best strengthens your point, and add the rest in decreasing order of relevance. Note that secondary sources may be used as a basis for supporting your argument further. However, it is critical that such sources remain secondary and not the main evidence behind any argument you present in your literary analysis.


You should end your literary analysis essay with a solid conclusion. Use the last paragraph to sum up the whole essay, showing in brief how all the points you have concluded tie in with your thesis. If you have been successful in presenting your argument, this should reflect in the conclusion. Avoid including any new points or arguments in the conclusion; this is not the place for that. End the essay creatively to leave a lasting impact on the reader.

General guidelines

  1. Always use the present tense when writing the essay. Do not use the past tense or the tense used in the literary piece.
  2. Always write your essay in the third person. Never use the first person at any point in your literary analysis and literature review essay.
  3. Do not summarize the story or plot of the literary piece. You are supposed to analyze the literary piece and present arguments to support your thesis statement.
  4. Use literary terms as much as possible. Such terms include: allegory, metaphors, similes, diction, plot, setting, characters, tone, allusion, irony, among others.
  5. Come up with a creative title to your essay. The title should attract the reader, while also giving him a gist of the argument you present in your essay at a glance.