Choose a topic for your literary analysis
The first step in choosing a literary analysis topic is deciding what interests or intrigues you about the work. You don’t want to spend all your time reading something that doesn’t interest you or feel relevant in some way. For example, if I’m trying to write an essay about Hamlet’s relationship with his mother Gertrude and I don’t care about their relationship at all, then my essay won’t be very interesting or useful for anyone who does care about the relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude (and trust me, there are plenty of people who do).
Secondly—and just as important—you should choose a text that has some familiarity but not too much familiarity. If we’re talking about a classic book like Hamlet by Shakespeare and someone has already written every possible interpretation of it ever conceived by humankind over hundreds of years, then what would be left for me? Not only would I have nothing new to add but also it might be hard for other people reading my paper because they could see how many different opinions there were already out there!
Thirdly—and lastly so far—make sure your text isn’t too broad yet also not too narrow either: both extremes can make finding things difficult when writing an analysis piece since most texts fall somewhere between those two poles on any given dimension; likewise avoid topics which are either too easy (because then why bother?) or too difficult (because again why bother?).
Understand the assignment
Next, you should understand who you will be writing the literary analysis for. Is it a class of high school students? College freshmen? Undergraduates? Graduate students? If you don’t know what your audience is going to be like, then how can you possibly write an essay for them?
This will also help define your purpose for writing the paper and what kind of product you have to produce. If it’s a graduate-level course, then chances are there won’t be much room for creative expression or original ideas in the assignment. But if it’s an undergraduate course, then maybe there will be more leeway for this sort of thing.
Create a thesis for your literary analysis
Your thesis should be a statement you can prove or disprove. It should be specific and not too broad because the rest of your paper will be developed around it.
In order to make sure that your thesis is well-supported by your analysis, it must also be an arguable statement. In other words, it must challenge the reader to disagree with you. This challenge is what drives readers through your paper as they try to find holes in it and support their own argument against yours (or vice versa).
Find evidence to support your argument
When you’re conducting literary analysis, it’s important to find evidence from the text that supports your argument. To do this, you can look for examples of literary techniques in the text, such as metaphor or simile. You can also look for other themes and ideas in the text. For example, if one character says something like “I’m going to make him pay,” then this could be considered a plot point because it will likely come up again later in the story. Look for historical or cultural references that relate to your argument and evidence of authorial style (like word choice).
Use the text to support your arguments
The best argument is one that uses specific examples from the text and other sources of evidence. If you’re using quotes from a novel or poem, choose brief ones that highlight something important about the work. For example, if you are writing about why a character’s death is important in a novel, use short quotes from different parts of the book to prove your point. If you’re writing about how an author creates an atmosphere in a poem, use lines or paragraphs where he or she describes what it’s like outside his windows at night or what type of weather there is when he wakes up every morning. Make sure that all these examples help make sense of what was said before them—they should be building up toward an explanation rather than simply being random bits pulled out of context!
Don’t ignore the setting, characters, and context of the work
When analyzing a work of literature, it’s important to pay attention to the setting, characters, and context.
The setting of a story is the location, time, and circumstances in which it takes place. The setting may cause conflict within the plot or reveal something significant about the characters involved.
The characters are those people or animals who appear in your story: their actions and interactions with each other help move along its events (or plot) and influence how you interpret them. A character can also be an object that has some meaning for another character or even for you as a reader!
Context is everything that surrounds your work: historical events happening at exactly when it was written; literary trends during this time period; the political climate in society at that point in history… All these things matter because they can all impact how you interpret what happens within (and after) reading this piece.”
Pay attention to the structure of your literary analysis
The structure of a story is how the author arranges the events in that story. It can be as simple as chronological order, or it can be more complex. Sometimes, an author will use flashbacks to show what has happened before; sometimes, they’ll present a scene out of chronological order to represent something different than what we would expect from the words on the page; sometimes they’ll do both at once (e.g., by using flashforwards).
There are lots of things you can do with this technique: you can convey information through the contrast between scenes (e.g., if one character is happy, having fun, and then suddenly disappears without explanation), foreshadowing (indicating what will happen later in the story), or setting up the tension for later events to occur off-screen (e.g., showing two characters arguing about something minor when readers know that their argument will turn into something much worse).
Determine how other elements are used (foreshadowing, symbolism, allusion)
After establishing the main theme, you can turn your attention to the elements that help support it. Foreshadowing is used to provide clues about what will happen later in the story and symbolism is the use of an object or character to represent something else. These tools can help make stories more meaningful as they convey different messages through various characters and settings. For example, a character may represent good fortune by wearing green clothes or symbolize innocence with a clean white dress.
To understand how these elements are used in a literary work, think about whether there are any objects that are repeated throughout it? Are there characters who appear several times throughout? Do certain scenes take place at particular locations or even times of the year? By identifying these similarities across multiple parts of a story, readers will be able to see how they relate back again towards its central message even further down the line.
You can literary analyze any work effectively if you follow a process for doing so
Once you’ve determined the steps to take, it’s time to identify what you are analyzing. First, ask yourself: Who wrote this work? When was it written? Where did they write it? What genre is this work in? These questions will help narrow down the type of literature you’re studying.
Next, formulate a thesis statement that answers your question before starting your research: “What are the themes of… [name of the novel]?” Once you have identified the works and their authors, gather evidence from multiple sources—not just one source!—to prove your thesis statement. As with all forms of writing, writing your literary analysis must be revised and edited before being published or presented in class.
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