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.
These are the elements that you will analyze in your essay, and which you will offer as evidence to support your arguments.
For more on the parts of literary works, see the Glossary of Literary Terms at the end of this section.
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.
Eventually, you’ll start making connections between these examples and your thesis will emerge.
Here’s a brief summary of the various parts that compose each and every work of literature.
But until then, here are seven basic steps to writing a well-constructed literary essay: When you’re assigned a literary essay in class, your teacher will often provide you with a list of writing prompts. You’ll have a much better (not to mention easier) time if you start off with something you enjoy thinking about. Take a deep breath and start by asking yourself these questions: What struck you?
If you are asked to come up with a topic by yourself, though, you might start to feel a little panicked. Did a particular image, line, or scene linger in your mind for a long time?