How to write a literary analysis essay- Detailed Guide

literary analysis essay

One of the many papers that you will write in college is a literary analysis essay. It allows you to showcase your writing skills and improve your creativity. You can also become more knowledgeable since you have to read a specific work of literature and understand it.

Writing great literary analysis essays requires a lot of practice and interest to get better at it.  They differ from book reviews. Instead of writing whether you like a literary work, focus on being objective.

Related: Poetry analysis: A guide on how to analyze a poem

What is a literary analysis essay?

A literary analysis essay is an academic paper that looks into a particular work of literature and provides an objective evaluation. When writing your paper, explain any symbolism that the author uses. You can also discuss how they develop the characters, the roles they play, and their general message.

Here are several tips on how you should write your literary analysis essay.

How to write a literary analysis essay

Writing a literary analysis essay is a walk in the park. However, if you are not careful, you can make some mistakes and end up disappointing your instructor. To write an excellent paper, you can follow these steps:

Understand the text

It is challenging to write an impressive literary analysis essay if you don’t understand the piece of literature that you are examining. Get the author’s message, their views, and why they wrote the work. To do this, take your time and go through the writing as many times as need be.

Identify the parts that stand out and what makes them unique. You should also evaluate the literary devices that the writer uses and their effects. Then, make a list of all the characters, their development, and why they are important.

Gather evidence

You have to prove how you made your analysis. Note the critical points that you came across while you were reading the work of literature. You also need to collect the expressions that the author has used. Identify their themes and how they develop them. Apart from making small notes, you can also research the writer and their other works. This will help you understand their thoughts, values, and style of writing.

Write your thesis statement

You cannot write your literary analysis essay without a thesis statement. Formulate it according to your paper. It should break down your analysis into something your reader can easily understand. When constructing your claim, address the points that you plan to support in your essay, depending on the evidence that you already have. To make it more interesting, use a simple language, and take a stand. You can also explain why your arguments are valid.

Elements of a literary analysis essay

Like with every other type of essay, there are specific components that your literary analysis paper must have. If you don’t include them and organize them properly, you will end up performing poorly. Below are the elements that every student must put in their literary analysis essays:

A topic

Your essay must have a title. How you construct it will depend on the message you plan to convey.  It gives your instructor and other potential readers an idea of what they should expect to find in your essay. You should make it captivating to encourage your audience to read on. Do not use any complicated diction when formulating it. Be brief and avoid making glaring grammatical errors. This is to prevent irritating your readers and making them lose interest in your paper.

Literary analysis essay introduction

The introduction is also an essential element of your academic essay. To capture the reader’s attention, it must have a hook. You should also provide the context of the work you are evaluating. This includes stating the author, the title of the poem, play, or book, and any background information that may intrigue the audience. It will give them a reason to read your paper to the end.

When writing your introduction, explain the aspect of the piece of literature that you intend to focus on. It could be the main character, the format, use of style, or a specific element of the plot. Make the introductory paragraph brief. Avoid fluff since it will only bore your reader. Also, include your powerful thesis statement, which you have already formulated. It is best if it is a single sentence capturing your essay’s main point.

The body

Your literary analysis essay must have a body. It is where you get to develop your points using the evidence that you have gathered. The body should have several paragraphs. Each of them must start with a topical sentence that carries the main point you want to raise. Also, every section should only have one argument.

Support all the points you have in the body of your literary analysis essay using facts and evidence. Feel free to use quotations and paraphrases from the text you are analyzing. You can use your own writing style, but you can also ask your tutor what they would like. With the help of transitions, you can ensure that your body paragraphs flow. This way, your audience will easily understand your message.

The number of paragraphs in your body will depend on how much content you have. Ask your instructor how many they would prefer. Once you know their requirements and meet them, you have the assurance that they will like your paper.

You must always use a professional tone when writing your body paragraphs. A literary analysis essay is an academic paper that requires the use of formal language. Using an informal one can make you lose marks and lead to a poor grade. It will also prevent your audience from taking your work seriously.


This is the last part of a literary analysis essay. It should provide a summary of your main points. When writing your conclusion, you can rewrite your thesis statement to remind your audience about the purpose of your paper. Also, be precise.

Literary analysis essay outline

Now that you know the main elements of your paper, you can write your literary analysis essay outline. It will guide you when you write your paper. With it, you are also aware of your main points and your supporting evidence. It prevents you from getting stuck while you are in the middle of your paper.

Your outline should be clear and orderly. Organize your thoughts to avoid repetition or using any irrelevant material. Include all the elements of your essay to make sure you don’t forget crucial information.

Literary analysis essay example

If you have never worked on a literary analysis essay before, check out various examples. They will give you a hint of what your teacher expects from you. They will also expose you to different writing styles that you can use. Once you have gone through enough samples, you can start writing your essay.

As you do it, do not copy and paste any material that you found in a sample you liked. Plagiarism is wrong, and your professor might punish you for it. However, you can borrow ideas from the examples and uniquely develop them.

Get your essay examples from trustworthy online sources. This ensures that you get high-quality and dependable information that can help you when writing your literary analysis essay.

How to end literary analysis essay?

As mentioned above, the conclusion is an essential component of your essay. When ending your paper, do not introduce any new points. This is because you will end up confusing your reader. Even after reading your work, they might still wonder what your paper was about. It might give them the impression that you have poor organizational skills. Also, do not write any undermining phrases at the end of your academic paper.

These include:

  1. I may lack adequate experience…
  2. My feel is that…
  3. One may not be a literary analysis essay expert, but…
  4. I thought that…
  5. My essay preferences are never on analysis ones, but…

Selling yourself short will tell your reader that you do not know what you are doing, and they should not trust your work. Your lack of confidence might also force your instructor to give you a poor score.

Furthermore, avoid being redundant by using obvious phrases like “In conclusion” and “In summary”.  Many writers have used them before, and they have now become clichés. Always try to leave a lasting impression when concluding your essay. It is the last part of your academic essay and make sure that your reader never forgets it.

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Bottom line

Writing a literary analysis essay is easy. Follow the guidelines that we have provided in this article. You can also seek our help. At, we can help you write impressive literary analysis essays that will amaze your instructors and readers. This will enable you to get a high score that will lead to an overall top grade.

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