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Literary Analysis.

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The great writers of fiction speak to and inform the universal human heart and mind. They warn us of what we should and should not do or be. Furthermore, they do not tellus these human truths, they show us through character development, setting symbolism, and all the other tools at their disposal.

Fiction informs the human heart about the truth of our existence.


Human Behavior

Consequence of Action

Authors use. . .

The particular

and concrete

To illustrate or explain the general, the abstract, or the whole

typical types of literary analysis
Typical Types of Literary Analysis
  • Compare the effect of one element on another
  • One character\'s development
  • Comparison & contrast of two characters, symbols, settings
  • Compare one text to another
  • Discuss the effect of one scene on the entire work
  • Etc., etc. etc.
compare the effect of one element on another
Compare the effect of one element on another:

You may show how. . .

One Character


The meaning of the whole work

compare and contrast two characters symbols settings etc
Compare and Contrast two characters, symbols, settings, etc.

Setting One

Setting Two

What the differences show us.

Don’t forget to tell. . .


Formulating a Thesis

Step 1:


Brainstorm, free-write, talk to others, make a jot list

as you consider different ideas
As you consider different ideas,

Ask yourself. . .

  • What will this idea enable me to say about the work’s meaning and significance?
  • What in the work will I be able to use as support for this idea?
remember a good thesis statement should
Remember! A good thesis statement should
  • Contain the author’s name and the book title (underlined!)
  • Contain the specific literary element to be investigated (NAME the character, symbol, or setting you will be analyzing!!)
  • Point to some idea of significance in the work, or

have an argumentative edge

  • Be written in present tense
  • NOT be written in passive voice
  • Be grammatically clear and correct
  • Never use 1st or 2nd person
  • Never refer to “the reader” or to “today’s society”

Examples of bad, bad, bad thesis statements:

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice contains romance and suspense.

George Orwell’s 1984 shows a bad state of civilization.

Forrester’s Room with a View contrasts greatly with today.

(These are all too broad and vague)


. . .and more examples of bad thesis statements:

The characters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice show pride and prejudice.

Symbolism in George Orwell’s 1984 is important to the theme.

Settings in Forrester’s Room with a View are crucial.

(These are all too abstract; they need to be concrete and specific!)


Examples of good thesis statements:

In George Orwell’s 1984 he uses political propaganda to illustrate the corruption of a totalitarian government.

In his novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy exhibits his pessimistic view of life through the intensity of his dark settings.


More examples of good thesis statements:

In Forrester’s novel A Room with a View, the character Lucy Honeychurch illustrates the idea that love conquers all by undergoing three distinct stages of development that end in her realization of her love for George.

The characters Anne Elliott and Lady Russell in Jane Austen’s Persuasion are parallel to the characters in the fairy tale Cinderella, showing that the virtuous can be triumphant over adversity.


More examples of good thesis statements:

Conrad uses the setting of the jungle, which actually represents “the heart of immense darkness,” to symbolize the insanity, obsession, and barbarism that invade the mind of his main character, Kurtz.

The demonic character Heathcliff in Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights demonstrates the romantic theme that people repeat the evil treatment that they endure as children.