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How to Write a Literary Essay

Before composing a literary essay, you should understand the purpose of writing. Literary essays are assigned to analyze a piece of writing (either non-fictional or fictional).

General Writing Guidelines

Composing a literary essay is difficult and time-consuming. While writing, one should pay attention to an abundance of linguistic instruments such as characters, plot, setting, imagery, symbols, themes, etc. that should be analyzed while analyzing a book, novel, story, or poem. A writer should be very careful with the analysis of the abovementioned elements described above.

Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement should be informative or argumentative, depending on your writing task. The goal of a thesis statement is to introduce your key idea of the whole paper, which will be supported in the proceeding paragraphs. Your thesis statement should be placed in the end of introductory paragraph and should guide the reader into a future text division. Still, this part should not be too long (do not create a summary). Always rely on your critical skills to make your thesis statement memorable and catchy.

For example, your topic relates to the exploration of “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin. You narrowed down the focus of writing to the issue of gender discrimination. Your thesis statement may sound in this way, “Kate Chopin in “Story of an Hour” attempted to analyze the issues of family relationships along with gender discrimination in the 19th century.” However, as you can see, this thesis statement is informative and it does not include any analytical component. If you have to write a critical literary essay, your thesis statement should be written in this way “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin includes an insight into lives of women of the 19th century, reflecting their limited capacity and freedom to make any societal changes.” The second thesis statement looks deeper into a critical analysis of the text and focuses on specific writer’s perception of the story. Remember that irrespective of the nature of your thesis statement, you still have to use enough evidence to prove your standpoint.

Main Body

A good literary essay should be a combination of summary and evaluation. To get a high grade for the task, a writer should perform a role of a critic while analyzing the read text. Always check your writing guidelines to know for sure how many summarizing sentences you should introduce. For example, most of professors would state that your reader is already familiar with the plot and you are supposed to select the key examples and use them in support of your claims.

Therefore, always be careful with your writing task to know how to organize your ideas and what points should be presented in your analysis. If you have to analyze the plot, remember that your ideas should be logically and chronologically structured. Your main body paragraphs must include topic sentences in the beginning. Present enough evidential support in your main body paragraphs to make your essay rich in argumentation. If you introduce a direct quote, it should be properly explained and analyzed. Otherwise, your reader may be confused about the purpose of introducing some text excerpts, finding it difficult to analyze their purpose.

Style and Tone of Writing

Always follow modern academic writing standards that oblige students to write in a formal manner. Your sentences should be written in third person. Refrain from the usage of a first-person perspective, unless your task allows.