For more on the parts of literary works, see the Glossary of Literary Terms at the end of this section. These are the hows —how the characters speak, how the story is constructed, and how language is used throughout the work. A thesis is a claim about a work of literature that needs to be supported by evidence and arguments.
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The thesis statement is the heart of the literary essay, and the bulk of your paper will be spent trying to prove this claim. A good thesis will be:. A really strong thesis will argue for a reading of the text that is not immediately apparent. How does the monster tell us so much about the human condition? Question: Would Piggy in The Lord of the Flies make a good island leader if he were given the chance? Golding emphasizes this point by giving Piggy a foil in the charismatic Jack, whose magnetic personality allows him to capture and wield power effectively, if not always wisely. The reasons and examples that support your thesis will form the middle paragraphs of your essay.
List of Macbeth Essay Topics - + Best Ideas for Any Type of Essay | Blog
One essay prompt might ask you to compare and contrast two characters, while another asks you to trace an image through a given work of literature. These questions require different kinds of answers and therefore different kinds of arguments. You can either go subject by subject or point by point.
This can be a highly effective strategy if you want to make a counterintuitive argument—that, despite seeming to be totally different, the two objects being compared are actually similar in a very important way or vice versa. Remember that your essay should reveal something fresh or unexpected about the text, so think beyond the obvious parallels and differences. Choose an image—for example, birds, knives, or eyes—and trace that image throughout Macbeth. Sounds pretty easy, right? All you need to do is read the play, underline every appearance of a knife in Macbeth , and then list them in your essay in the order they appear, right?
Well, not exactly. In the Macbeth example above, think about the different contexts in which knives appear in the play and to what effect. In Macbeth , there are real knives and imagined knives; knives that kill and knives that simply threaten.
Categorize and classify your examples to give them some order. Finally, always keep the overall effect in mind. Is the society depicted in good for its citizens? You might be asked to judge a character or group of characters Is Caesar responsible for his own demise? For this kind of essay, there are two important points to keep in mind. Every literary essay expects you to read and analyze the work, so search for evidence in the text. What do characters in have to say about the government of Oceania? What images does Orwell use that might give you a hint about his attitude toward the government?
As in any debate, you also need to make sure that you define all the necessary terms before you begin to argue your case. You should define your terms right up front, in the first paragraph after your introduction. Second, remember that strong literary essays make contrary and surprising arguments.
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Try to think outside the box. But can you think of any arguments for the opposite side? Even if your final assertion is that the novel depicts a cruel, repressive, and therefore harmful society, acknowledging and responding to the counterargument will strengthen your overall case. Your introduction sets up the entire essay. A persuasive literary essay immediately establishes its writer as a knowledgeable, authoritative figure. An introduction can vary in length depending on the overall length of the essay, but in a traditional five-paragraph essay it should be no longer than one paragraph.
Macbeth and Lord of the Flies Comparison Essay Essay
However long it is, your introduction needs to:. Your introduction should situate the reader and let him or her know what to expect. What book are you discussing? Which characters?
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What topic will you be addressing? Why is this topic important, and why is your particular position on the topic noteworthy? Literary essays make unexpected connections and reveal less-than-obvious truths. Beware of the two killer words in literary analysis: interesting and important. You know what? It actually sounds pretty amateurish. Another typical mistake student writers make is extolling the work or author.
Keep your introduction streamlined and to the point. The organization of this middle section of your essay will largely be determined by the argumentative strategy you use, but no matter how you arrange your thoughts, your body paragraphs need to do the following:. A good topic sentence not only alerts readers to what issue will be discussed in the following paragraph but also gives them a sense of what argument will be made about that issue.
Body paragraphs are like bricks: each individual one needs to be strong and sturdy or the entire structure will collapse. Make sure you have really proven your point before moving on to the next one. Good literary essay writers know that each paragraph must be clearly and strongly linked to the material around it. Think of each paragraph as a response to the one that precedes it. A good conclusion will:. In your introduction, you made a case for why your topic and position are important. You should close your essay with the same sort of gesture.
How will that knowledge help them better appreciate or understand the work overall?
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Your essay has most likely treated a very specific element of the work—a single character, a small set of images, or a particular passage. In your conclusion, try to show how this narrow discussion has wider implications for the work overall. A conclusion should open up your highly specific, focused discussion, but it should do so without drawing a sweeping lesson about life or human nature. Cat's Cradle by: Kurt Vonnegut.
Writing help How to Write Literary Analysis. Introduction When you read for pleasure, your only goal is enjoyment. Contents 1. Ask questions 2.
Collect evidence 3. Construct a thesis 4. Develop and organize arguments 5. Write the introduction 6. Write the body paragraphs 7. Write the conclusion.