How do I write a literary analysis of "A Rose for Emily" using MLA style?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

MLA style is a lot scarier than it sounds.  Basically, you are going to write the essay like you always have, but you have to make sure to have certain features.  MLA style is just describing how the essay is formatted.

First of all, you are writing a literary analysis.  If you are not sure what to write about, theme is always a great place to start.  Choose a theme from the story and explain how it is developed.  For example, a theme in “A Rose for Emily” might be death’s impact on life.  You could describe how death is described and how it impacts the characters.  See link 1 for a discussion of themes in the story.

In writing MLA style, you will need to set your paper up in a specific way.  I have included a reference link (link 2).  You have to have  header, which is your last name and the page number, in the upper right hand side of the page.  To get the header in Microsoft Word, you just double click the very top of the page or choose “View: Header and Footer.”

You also need a heading.  A heading is different than a header.  It is on the left side of the page.  You might write in this order.

Your name (however your teacher wants it)



Date (however your teacher wants it)

Then you have a title on the next line.  Center the title, and write it in title case, but to do underline, italicize, or bold it.  Try to come up with a clever title.  Don’t just write “Essay” or “A Rose for Emily” for the title.  Something like: ‘The Impact of Death in “A Rose for Emily”’ is better.

Now, you need to make sure you have MLA approved fonts.  Your teacher may have a preference, but usually Times New Roman 12 pt font is the safest bet.  You need to double space your essay.  You can do that by selecting all and right clicking, then choose “paragraph” or you can go to “Format: Paragraph.”  It will vary based on the version of Microsoft Word or if you are using another program.

Next, you will need to include a Works Cited page.  You can just type the book or story into a bibliography web site, like the one in link 3.  Make sure you properly cite every source you used.  If you quote the enotes page I showed you, you need to cite it to.  You need to cite using page numbers within your text.  For example, let’s say you used this quote.  I will use this version.

It should be cited like this:

Faulkner, William. "A Rose for Emily." Resources. Melbourne High School, 29 Jan. 2007. Web. 15 Oct.

2012. <>.

Notice that there is what is called a hanging indent, meaning the second line is indented.

Within my text, I need to use citations for page numbers. This PDF file has page numbers, fortunately.  I am going to find a good quote about death.  I will use part of the powerful first sentence as an example.

“When Miss Emily Griersen died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through respectful attention to a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see her house” (1).

Notice that I put the page number at the end of the quote in parenthesis, and only the number.  I also put the period after the parenthesis, and the quotation marks are only around the quote.  It goes quotation marks, quote, quotation marks, parenthesis, page number, parenthesis, period.

Read the study guide:
A Rose for Emily

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