The Literary Analysis Essay By Esther Howard Cuadros, MA

Northlake College

02 October 2018

The Literary Analysis Essay: What is it?

A careful examination/evaluation of a work of literature or an aspect of it.

In order to analyze a text, you must dissect the work, looking for different elements that can help you understand the work and the author’s purpose/message.

For example…..

When analyzing a poem, you may look at the difference between the form and content of the work, or just choose one to analyze.


The use of alliteration/assonance/consonance and their relationship to the Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon Hero.

Beowulf’s structure with the use of caesuras versus modern English verse

In a play, you may compare the subplot to the main plot, or analyze the character flaw of the tragic hero.

* Analyzing the character of Medea in The Medea, to argue that she is an anti-hero and not a villain.

Things you can analyze


Textual examples of what constitutes as an epic hero or magnanimous man (think the great man)

Achilles, Beowulf, Odysseus

How are certain groups treated in the body of work? (think minority groups/women)

How do we analyze?

We must read actively, which means:

Understand the plot

Pay attention to words we do not know. Look them up and write meanings in margins or in a notebook

Highlight various rhetorical and literary devices- metaphors, personification, symbolism- to see how they function in the text

Annotate, Annotate, Annotate

Use the AVID handout to direct your annotations

Read the two literary devices’ sheets on eCampus

Examples of thesis statements for literary analyses

Gwendolyn Brook’s 1960 poem, “The Ballad of Rudolph Reed”, demonstrates how the poet uses the conventional poetic form of the ballard to treat the unconventional poetic subject of racial intolerance.

The fate of the main characters in Antigone illustrates the danger of excessive pride.

The imagery in Dylan Thomas’ poem, “Fern Hill”, reveals the ambiguity of humans’ relationship with nature.

Important Information

Read and Annotate “A Rose for Emily” to turn in on 10/09/18

Peer Review on 10/16/2018

Rough Draft is the peer-reviewed document handed in at the end of class on 10/16/18

Final Essay must be 750 words

Final Essay due on on 10/21/18 at 11:59 p.m.

*All assignments listed are for class grades.