How to write a Literary Analysis Essay like a Pro

author By Mary Boies

A literary analysis essay assignment is simply an essay assignment that requires you to analyze a piece of text in literature. You can be given a literary analysis assignment at the high school, college, or university level. Reading, internalizing, and analyzing texts is an absolute aspect of the learning process.

Learning and mastering how to write a literary analysis essay will help you get a good grade when you are given a chance to write this special analysis essay assignment. It will also help you understand literary pieces much better.

In this post, we will share all the vital information you need to know to write a successful literary analysis essay. The information includes the exact steps one must follow to write a brilliant literary essay.

If you do not have the time to write your own essay, order one from us, and it will be done ASAP by a pro analysis essay writer.

What is the best definition of a literary analysis essay?

The best literary analysis essay definition is that it is an argumentative analysis of a literature piece, e.g., a novel, a book, a poem, or a play. The analysis often involves an assessment of the characters, the plot, the idea, the tone, the writing style, and the devices utilized by the author to tell the story.  

Put simply; a literary analysis essay is a paper that examines how a book (or any other piece of literature) was written and whether the writer delivered the message correctly.

Do not confuse a literary analysis essay with a rhetorical essay because the two are worlds apart.

Why write a literary analysis essay?

A literary analysis essay is written to evaluate a piece of literature or its aspect. The intention is usually to judge the effectiveness of the devices, the imagery, and the styles in delivering the message.

Therefore, when given a literary essay assignment, your aim should be to correctly assess the work and offer a conclusion on whether the author conveyed whatever they wanted.

Literary analysis vs. Textual Analysis?

Literary analysis and textual analysis are similar and dissimilar at the same time. They are similar in the sense that they both involve the analysis of a text. However, literary analysis entails the analysis of text in a literature piece, while textual analysis entails the analysis of any kind of text to find out its meaning.

Literary analysis and textual analysis are dissimilar in terms of their objectives. For example, a literary analysis often looks at various aspects of a literary piece to determine if the author effectively conveys his message. In contrast, the aim of textual analysis is usually to analyze a text to find its meaning.

Steps for writing a perfect Literary Analysis Essay

You have a pretty good idea of what a quality literary analysis essay should look like. In this section, you will learn the A to Z of how to write a literary analysis essay in 9 steps.

1. Read the prompt severally to understand it

The first thing you need to do when you receive a literary analysis assignment is to read the assignment prompt severally to understand it. Make sure you fully understand what is needed of you before you start doing anything else related to the essay.

Literary analysis essay prompts usually have either a list of literary analysis essay topics for you to choose from or an open-ended prompt asking you to develop a topic on your own. If you are asked to choose a topic from a list of topics, choose the easiest or the most interesting topic. Doing this will make your work fun and easy.

If the essay prompt asks you to come up with a topic on your own, think about any literature piece you read in the recent past that you found most interesting. After doing this, consider all the questions, controversies, points of confusion, issues, and so on in the literature piece. Write them down, and then choose the most interesting one as your topic for the literary analysis of the essay.

2. Gather evidence for your essay

Once you have picked a topic/literary question from the list you were given, or you have come up with your own, it is time to gather evidence to give a response to the question. Of course, the only way to do this is to read the literature on which the topic is based and take notes.

If you do not know what you are supposed to look out for and note down when doing the reading, do not fret. In just a moment, we will share with you the most important elements to consider in a story. Virtually all stories/literature pieces have the same key elements. Therefore, you should note these elements and use them as evidence in your literary essay.

There are two elements you should consider when reading a literary piece to write a literary analysis essay ? elements of story and elements of style. The elements of the story explain what happens, where, and to whom. While the elements of style explain how the story is told, how the characters are presented, and so on.

Note down both the elements of the story and elements of style as you read the literature piece you want to analyze. But, of course, only note down the elements that will help you give a response to your literary question/topic.

Elements of a Story Literary Analysis

Element of story



The sequence of events that takes place in the work.


The person who acts or who is acted upon in a story. The key character in a story is called the protagonist.


The key point of contention in a story pitting the protagonist(s) against the antagonist(s).


The place where the story takes place, the time, and the conditions.


The individual telling or narrating the story. The narrator usually narrates directly, but they also simply offer commentary.


The main messages or ideas in the story. They are usually ideas about life or society.

Elements of Style in Literary Analysis

Element of style


Structure & organization

The way the story is organized. It can be linear or non-linear. The structure usually says a lot about the author and what they are attempting to achieve in the story.

Points of view

This is the perspective from which the narrator is telling the story. It could be first-person or third-person.


The word choice. It could be direct, flowery, or poetic. It says a lot about the writer's personality and attitude.


The sentence construction and word order. Syntax helps to establish the narrative voice. Some sentences can be short and direct, while others can be long and complicated.


The language represents things that can be touched, tasted, heard, smelled, or seen. The language that triggers the senses.


Feeling or mood of the text. Text can be cold and straightforward or flowery and charming.

Figurative language

The language should not be interpreted as literary. Types of figurative language include similes and metaphors.

3. Create a strong literary analysis essay thesis

Create a thesis statement once you have read the story and picked or identified the key story elements that will help you respond to the topic. A thesis statement is an argumentative claim that states a position and is supposed to support arguments and evidence in the essay.

The best literary analysis essay thesis is one that is arguable, provable, and specific. In other words, it is not an outright fact, a non-provable statement, or a vague statement. Your work becomes much easier when developing a strong, arguable, and specific thesis statement. This is because a strong thesis statement is always easier to prove.

4. Develop your main points/arguments

Once you create a strong thesis statement, the next thing you need to do is to develop your main points. The main points are the key points or arguments you will use to support the position you have taken in your thesis statement. To do this, simply look at the evidence you gathered in STEP 2 (the notes you made).

Look at the evidence keenly to determine which notes or points the best support your thesis statement. Next, identify the biggest points that support your thesis statement. Once you've done this, the next thing you need to do is to order the points in order of strength. For example, the strongest point in favor of your literary analysis essay thesis should be first, and the weakest should be last.

Now at this stage, the points are just points. You should convert them into arguments to support your thesis. There is no universal way to structure arguments. Make sure each point sounds like a claim or a factual statement to support your thesis statement.

5. Create a good outline for a literary analysis essay

When you get to this step, you will basically be halfway through the process of writing your literary analysis essay. Because there are only two major things you need to do after developing your main arguments ? create an outline and write the essay.

Starting with the thesis statement, you created earlier and the arguments you developed in STEP 4 above, fill in the literary analysis essay outline template (presented in the section before this one) to create a quality outline for your essay. Make sure you fill in everything in the literary analysis essay template to make your outline a high-quality outline.

Creating a high-quality outline at this juncture makes it a breeze to write the actual essay. This is because a high-quality essay outline is like a treasure map. It guides you step-by-step to the treasure. Here, the treasure is the last sentence in your essay.

As you create the outline, remember to title your essay well. Giving the title of the literary piece you are analyzing is not good writing practice. Instead, write a descriptive title that signals to your readers the direction and scope of your analysis.

6. Start writing your essay by writing the introduction

After creating a high-quality outline for a literary analysis essay, you must follow it to get to the finish line. Of course, the first thing you will need to write will be the introduction. Your essay needs a good introduction if you want to get a top grade.

An excellent introduction to a literary analysis essay provides context, presents a strong thesis, and indicates the scope of the essay. Therefore, your introduction needs to provide context, aka information about the book, the characters, and the topics under discussion.

Every college student knows an essay introduction must also have a solid thesis to tell the reader the writer's stand/position. Thus, do not forget to include a thesis in your essay introduction. It is also crucial to ensure your introduction shows your essay's scope.

If stuck at any point when writing your essay introduction, refer back to your essay outline.

7. Develop your body paragraphs

After writing your introduction, the next thing you need to do is to write/develop your body paragraphs. You should do this following the organization of your outline for the literary analysis essay. Develop your body paragraphs sequentially to ensure they have a good flow.

As usual, start each paragraph with an argument to support your literary analysis essay thesis. You already created a list of arguments supporting your thesis and put them in the outline. So simply follow your outline to write your body paragraphs in an organized way.

One thing that you need to focus on when writing your body paragraphs is the fact that you need to use transitions effectively. This is especially true when you are moving from one idea to another. Excellent use of transition words in your literary analysis paper will make it flow like a stream down a hill.

8. Conclude the essay

After writing the body paragraphs, the last thing you need to do to finish your essay is to conclude it. Simply follow the direction provided by the outline you created to write the conclusion paragraph. Be sure you are focused when writing the conclusion. Otherwise, you will end up with a weak conclusion.

Restate your thesis and synthesize your main arguments to ensure your conclusion is firm. Next, talk about how your main arguments answer the question and the significance of the answer to the question. Lastly, conclude your essay with a powerful closing statement. One that wraps up the entire thing nicely and gives the reader food for thought.

9. Proofread and edit your essay

The very last thing you need to do to complete your essay is to proofread it. Every student needs to proofread their work before submission. Failure to do so usually results in error-ridden essays that struggle to get even an average grade. Thus, to make sure your essay can at least get an above-average grade, you should proofread it.

The correct way to proofread your essay is to read it aloud and edit all complex sentences. And while you are doing this, you are supposed to eliminate all the grammar, spelling, and style errors you notice. Then, after you are done reading your essay, you should give it to your friend to proofread it again. This will help to catch any errors or issues you might have missed.

After proofreading your essay, ensure it meets all the conditions for an excellent essay in your professor's literary analysis essay rubric for grading. If it doesn't, adjust it until it does. After doing so, your essay will be ready for submission.

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The Standard Structure for a Literary Analysis Essay

The typical literary analysis essay will have three distinct essays like any other standard. It will have ? an introduction, body, and conclusion.

1. Introduction Paragraph

Knowing how to write an introduction for a literary analysis essay is crucial for a good grade. Therefore, you should ensure your literary analysis essay starts with a clear and concise introduction.

The introduction should be clear and concise to ensure the reader understands what they are about to read. At the same time, your introduction should be fascinating. There is no way a reader will be interested in reading the rest of your essay if the introduction is not interesting.

2. Body Paragraphs

A typical literary analysis essay will have several body paragraphs. You are supposed to do your analysis in the body section. Simply put, you should share your breakdown of the literature piece you are analyzing and your statements on the message delivery in the body part of your essay.

Do not forget to include evidence for your assessments or evaluations as you write this part of your essay. Because failure to do so will make your analysis incomplete and make you lose marks. Therefore, if you want a top grade in your literary analysis essay, you should include evidence.

3. Conclusion Paragraph

Your literary analysis essay must have a conclusion. And the conclusion paragraph must tie everything together, giving it a sense of completeness. It signals to your readers the end of your literary essay. The most important thing to remember when writing the conclusion to your essay is that you must not do any evaluation or introduce any new ideas in your conclusion. Doing so will make your analysis essay look disorganized and unstructured.

While writing this piece, we bumped into a literary analysis sample paper by Germanna Community College, which has all the aspects we have discussed, have a look.

Here is an example of a good conclusion paragraph for a literary essay based on the poem My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

If the Duke has any redeeming qualities, they fail to appear in the poem. Browning's emphasis on the Duke's traits of arrogance, jealousy, and materialism makes it apparent that anyone who might have known the Duke personally would have based his opinion of him on these three personality "flaws." Ultimately, the reader's opinion of the Duke is not a favorable one, and it is clear that Browning

intended that the reader feel this way

Example Thesis Statement for Literary Analysis

To write a solid essay, ensure that you have a thesis statement that is a declarative sentence that states the gist of the essay.

Here are some sample thesis statements for a literary analysis essay

  1. The imagery in Dylan Thomas's poem Fern Hill reveals the ambiguity of humans" relationship with nature.
  2. Gwendolyn Brooks' 1960 poem The Ballad of Rudolph Reed demonstrates how the poet uses the conventional poetic form of the ballad to treat the unconventional poetic subject of racial intolerance.
  3. The fate of the main characters in "Antigone" illustrates the danger of excessive pride.

Note that the titles of the texts are either in italics or double-quotation marks, as is a requirement.

Example of an Introduction Paragraph

As indicated before, the introduction of your analysis essay must capture the reader's attention. You can use a quote to bring immediate focus to the story.

Equally, you can use a provocative question, an anecdote, or a startling statement, or combine the elements and come up with a great attention-grabber.

Fit in your background information relevant to the thesis and write a thesis statement that stands out.

Below is a sample introduction for a literary analysis essay.

The setting of John Updike's story A & P is crucial to the reader's understanding of Sammy's decision to quit his job [hook or attention grabber]. Even though Sammy knows that his quitting will make life more difficult for him, he instinctively insists upon rejecting what the A & P represents in the story. When he rings up a "No Sale" and "saunter[s]" out of the store, Sammy leaves behind not only a job but the rigid state of mind associated with the A & P. Although Sammy is the central character in the story, Updike seems to invest as much effort in describing the setting as he does Sammy [background information]. The title, after all, is not Youthful Rebellion or Sammy Quits but A & P. The setting is the antagonist of the story and plays a role that is as important as Sammy's [Thesis Statement].

Example a Good Body Paragraph

The body of your analysis essay is the theater where all the action occurs. It is where you develop the central idea of your literary analysis essay.

In most cases, if you are writing a 5-paragraph essay, three of your paragraphs will make up the essay's body. Each body paragraph has to support the thesis statement.

A perfect literary analysis essay includes an explanation of the ideas and examples and evidence from the text to support the ideas. You can use textual evidence comprising summary, specific details, direct quotations, and paraphrases of the original text.

Every paragraph must have a topic sentence, typically your first sentence in a paragraph that links it to your essay's thesis.

The developmental or body paragraphs entail explanations, summaries, and other pieces of evidence.

Let's look at the first body paragraph of an essay as an example.

Sammy's descriptions of the A & P present a setting that is ugly, monotonous, and rigidly regulated [Topic Sentence]. The chain store is a common fixture in modern society, so the reader can identify with the uniformity Sammy describes. The fluorescent light is as blandly cool as the "checkerboard green-and-cream rubber tile floor" (486). The "usual traffic in the store moves in one direction (except for the swim-suited girls, who move against it), and everything is neatly organized and categorized in tidy aisles. The dehumanizing routine of this environment is suggested by Sammy's offhand references to the typical shoppers as "sheep," "house slaves," and "pigs" (486). These regular customers seem to walk through the store in a stupor; as Sammy indicates, not even dynamite could move them out of their routine (485) [Explanations and Textual Evidence]

The paragraph above is strong given that it is developed using quotations, summary, details, and explanations supporting the topic sentence. Moreover, the entire paragraph relates to the thesis statement in the introduction.

Literary Analysis Essay Template

The section above presented you with information on how to structure a literary analysis essay. In this section, you will discover a simple and easy-to-use literary analysis essay outline template. You can use this template to create a quality outline for your literary analysis essay. An outline that will help with your literary analysis essay structure.

Simply add information to the template below to create your literary analysis essay outline.

1. Introduction

  1. Hook sentence: ________________________________________
  2. Background info/Literary question: __________________________
  3. Thesis: _________________________________________________

2. First Body Paragraph (First main point)

  1. Topic sentence/First answer to literary question: ________________
  2. Explanation & evidence from literary piece: ______________________

3. Second Body Paragraph (Second main point)

  1. Topic sentence/Second answer to literary question: ________________
  2. Explanation & evidence from literary piece: _______________________

4. Third Body Paragraph (Third main point)

  1. Topic sentence/Third answer to literary question: __________________
  2. Explanation & evidence from literary piece: _______________________

5. Conclusion

  1. Thesis restatement: __________________________________________
  2. Summary of main points: _____________________________________
  3. Closing sentence: ____________________________________________

A good outline for a literary analysis essay will ensure your literary analysis essay format is excellent.

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Final words

We hope you found the information in this article helpful. We hope you now totally understand how to go about writing a good literary analysis essay. If you still think you can't do it, order a literary analysis essay from us today. We have the best essay tutors to help you with your literary analysis essay assignment.

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Literary analysis essay FAQs

We have at least tried to answer some of the common concerns that readers of our blog have always had regarding writing literary analysis essays. So have a look if you might be having similar concerns.

What exactly is a literary analysis essay?

It is an essay that focuses on the part of a literature piece. For example, the typical literary analysis essay responds to a literary question (a question on an aspect of a literature piece). The response is written by analyzing the elements of the story.

How to write an excellent literary analysis essay?

The best way to do this is first to understand the question entirely and then to gather evidence to answer the question by looking at the critical elements in the story. In addition, creating a quality literary analysis essay and following it will help make your paper structured and organized. Therefore, do not forget to do it.

What exactly is a book analysis essay?

A book analysis essay is different from a literary analysis essay. First, it is pretty different because a book analysis is written to enable the reader to understand an entire book better. In contrast, a literary analysis essay often entails analyzing a specific aspect of a story or other literary piece.

What are the don'ts when writing a literary analysis essay introduction?

There are several don'ts you have to keep in mind when writing a literary analysis essay introduction. First, your introduction should not be unclear, vague, or have a grandiose opening. Your introduction should also not praise the work too much, even if it is terrific. Finally, your introduction should also not go off-topic.

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