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Literary Analysis. What is a literary analysis?. A literary analysis is an interpretation of the written text, which involves the use of concepts specifically associated with literature. Literary Concepts. The Basics Additional Concepts Plot Historical Content

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What is a literary analysis
What is a literary analysis?

A literary analysis is an interpretation of the written text, which involves the use of concepts specifically associated with literature.

Literary concepts
Literary Concepts

  • The Basics Additional Concepts

    Plot Historical Content

    Setting Social significance

    Characterization Political view point

    Symbolism Ideology

    Metaphors Critical Orientation

    Genre Literary Theory

    Irony/ambiguity Multiple voices


How to argue in an analysis
How to argue in an analysis

  • Focus on specific attributes of the text:

  • Make sure your specific point(s) (thesis) are arguable.

  • Defend your point(s) with reason, based on evidence from the text (dialogue, description, setting, etc.).

  • Argue your points much like a legal advocate. You can argue either strongest evidence first/weakest last or vice versa, whatever works best in your opinion.

  • Remember, your audience is the judge.

Thesis statements
Thesis Statements

  • The thesis statement:

  • Sets the argument to control the focus of the entire paper

  • Provides unity and a sense of direction

  • Specifies to the reader (audience) the point of the analysis

Thesis statements1
Thesis Statements

  • In Death of a Salesman Miller uses Uncle Charlie’s relationship with his successful son Bernard to emphasize Willy Loman’s failure as a father.

  • The Great Gatsby presents a world in which marriage, the stock market, and even the World Series are corrupted by selfish greed.

  • Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royale” highlights the bankruptcy of Booker T. Washington’s “separate but equal” approach to race relations.

How to support a thesis statement
How to Support a Thesis Statement

  • Use examples from the text:

    Direct quotations

    Summaries of scenes


  • Other critic’s opinions

  • Historical, social, economic context

  • Use secondary sources

Secondary sources
Secondary Sources

  • What is a secondary source?

    • A book or article that discusses the text you are discussing.

    • A book or article that discusses a theory related to the argument you are making.

    • A book or article that discusses the social, political, or economic context of the text you are discussing.

Integrating secondary sources
Integrating Secondary Sources

Be sure to show how a secondary source relates to your thesis.

Don’t overuse any one secondary source, or for that matter, secondary sources in general.

Remember that this is your paper, your argument –

the secondary sources are just helping your argument.

NEVER plagiarize from a secondary source.

Additional strategies
Additional Strategies

  • Avoid summarizing the work analyzed.

  • Narrow the scope of your response.

  • Pre-write to explore the topic & develop a thesis.

  • Support your thesis with evidence from the text.

  • Avoid extensive direct quotations.

  • Write in the present tense.

  • After writing the first draft, review the work and examine your thesis and supporting evidence.

  • Proofread & re-write – Do NOT rely on spellcheck!

Where can i go for more help
Where Can I Go for More Help

The Rio Grande Campus Writing Center

Bldg. A Room 112

Monday – Thursday 8am – 5p

Friday 8am – 3pm

The moon cannot be stolen
The Moon Cannot Be Stolen

Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing in it to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. "You may have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty handed. Please take my clothes as a gift."

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.

Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. "Poor fellow, " he mused, "I wish I could give him this beautiful moon."