How do you write a critical analysis for literature?

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A literary analysis is an essay that examines the component parts of a work of literature and how they all work together to create meaning. The thesis statement of the essay should describe the meaning that the essay writer seeks to elucidate and at least three elements of the work that contribute to that meaning. The analysis should include an interpretation of the work, which is often related to the work's theme.

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A literary critical analysis includes a discussion of structure, thesis, language particulars and diction, plot and conflict, characters, and other literary devices of the literary element and literary technique categories, including mood and tone, tropes and conventions. In order to amass this information, you need to pay close attention to the elements and techniques, points and objectives in the writing as you come across them, paying special attention to subtle (or bold) changes in tone and mood as well as to words, phrases, or sentences that make, prove, or emphasize the author's thesis (major point).

To write your critical analysis, after your Introduction, you'll have a brief description or perhaps summary of the work you're analyzing followed a discussion of structural points. If you're analyzing a poem, this would include things like rhyme scheme, stanza construction, genre, and meter. If a book, this would include things like narrator, point of view, chronological orientation, overall mood (mood can change), and overall tone (tone can change). You then discuss literary elements and techniques, authorial style, the treatment of the work's thesis, and the work's effectiveness as these are relevant to your particular thesis statement--the point you wish to make about the literary work.

This may seem like a lot--and it can be--but it can also be abbreviated to suit the needs of your essay. For example, if my thesis is that a work is not effective because of faulty language, I may address structural elements as briefly as follows if I wish--if it serves my purpose to do so: The first person narrator establishes a despondent tone that matches the gloomy mood (same as atmosphere) as s/he paces back and forth in time between flashbacks, present day events, and anticipated future events while telling of the tragedy s/he witnessed on the slow boat to China two decades earlier.

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I'm assuming that since your question is posted in the literature group that you mean a critical literary analysis. You can approach a critical analysis in several ways, but the main idea is to examine an idea or a theme or a symbol, or something that you see in a text that causes you to make some sort of evaluation.  Then you use your text as a primary source to expand upon your idea, often supplementing that idea with outside sources - research, that is. Say, for instance, that you are studying the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night. Like any piece of narrative, even though it is a drama, the play contains a plot, characters, setting, themes, symbols, point of view, and literary devices.  So, you might want to look at the theme of cross-dressing in the play, because Viola, the main character, has to disguise herself as a boy to survive.

Now you can take your idea and do a critical analysis from one of several different methods. You can do what is called "reader response," one of the easiest and most common (again, I don't know what your assignment is). That is to use quotes from the text to demonstrate what you think the author meant. Your quotes give validity to your ideas.

You can also do an analysis from a historical perspective, looking at how the issue you notice is based in the context of the time and how we would look at it today.  The complexity of your analysis is going to depend on what your teacher requires of you and the level of understanding you bring to the text, so a high-school student would not be expected to do as complicated an analysis as would a college student.

I hope this helps.

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How To Write A Literary Analysis?

You may be asked to write a literary analysis of a story, novel, poem, or other work of literature. Usually you'll be given an assignment sheet that tells you what your instructor is looking for. In general, to write a good literary analysis, you should work backward. Think about the meaning of the piece for you. This could be the work's theme, a universal truth about life that becomes clear through the work. Alternatively, it could be how the work relates biographically to the author or how it exemplifies a literary movement, such as Romanticism or Aestheticism.

Once you've chosen a meaning to write about, look back at the work to find the techniques that the author used to create that meaning. In a short story, for example, you should examine each element of the story arc: characters, setting, inciting incident, problem or conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. In a poem, you should consider poetic devices such as alliteration, rhyme, rhythm, meter, onomatopoeia, consonance, enjambment, and caesura. For all literary works, consider symbolism, irony, and point of view.

Once you have thought through how the various elements of the work contribute to the meaning you have chosen to write about, choose three that seem to be the strongest. Now you can construct a thesis statement. For example, you might want to show how Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott" reflects the plight of the Victorian woman. Your thesis statement could be as follows:

Although Alfred, Lord Tennyson did not necessarily write it for that purpose, "The Lady of Shalott" reflects the plight of the Victorian woman through the poem's setting, climax, and symbolism.

The first part of the statement that begins with "although" is known as the concessions clause. This is not always necessary in a thesis statement, but if you believe readers might object to your interpretation, you can concede anything that isn't strong about your argument in that clause.

Now the structure of your essay has been laid. Write an introduction paragraph that ends with your thesis statement. Write one section showing how each of the elements you chose adds to the meaning you are writing about. Add a conclusion paragraph that briefly summarizes your points and explains why the topic you've written about is important. Be sure to end with a strong statement that reinforces your point in new words. Create an interesting title that ties in to your final sentence. As with any writing project, take time to revise your work and proofread before submitting it.

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