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Literary Analysis Essay: 8 Basic Elements of Literature

Literary Analysis Essay: 8 Basic Elements of Literature

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Literary analysis essays are based on analyzing the elements of literature in detail and in relation with each other.

The good news is that you can learn how to explain and describe them here in this blog.

Stay with us and learn what are they and how to work on them.

1. What is a Literary Analysis Essay

It is an opinion essay in which the students share their opinion about the theme and other literary elements of a piece of writing. These views are supported with supporting evidence from relevant other work.

The literary piece of writing can be a short story, poem or any other fictional or non-fictional work. It also has the same sections but, it may not have a thesis statement. Especially if it is just an informative type of an essay.

The method used to analyze literary work can differ depending upon the type of work being analyzed. For the most part, it is important to break down the literary work into various components to better understand its entirety.

1.1 What is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay

Literary analysis is a type of analytical essay that examines a piece of writing. To know more, here is a detailed guide that will help you write an analytical essay.

Literary analysis essay helps the students in finding and explaining the important elements of fiction. This understanding develops a deeper understanding of the literary works.

As a literature major, especially, it is mandatory to learn the literary elements and analyze them as per your understanding.

The literary analysis essay aims at presenting the details and all sided analysis of a specific piece of literature work. In it, the writer take into account the content, language, effect on the audience and the writing style in literature.

2. Elements of Literature

Elements of literature are the ideas or devices that make up a story. In other words, elements that are used to develop the story. In a literary analysis essay, explaining these elements is essential and without them, no literary essay is complete.

Some elements of literature are more prominent while others do not have any significant role in the chosen literary work.

2.1 Plot

The plot is one of the most important elements of the literary essay; it provides insight on how the story unfolded. It is the pattern of events that eventually make up a story.

Sometimes, the authors use the nonlinear plot, i.e., they include the flashbacks or future events to make the story more captivating.

You have to consider this point carefully, restate the pattern of the story and highlight the importance of the plot.

2.2 Point Of View

The point of view is important in the work of literature. It communicates to the readers who is narrating the story. This section attempts to explain why the authors has selected the particular perspective.

Knowing about the narrator is important. Only then the readers would be able to relate to the character and understand the narrator's action.

Sometimes the reason is clear from the beginning and sometimes, it is revealed during the story.

2.3 Setting

The setting highlights the specific time period and the region in which the characters are moving and performing. Just like characters, settings are also important to analyze. As the author express his/her opinion on a certain character, what they think about places can also be provocative.

Examples include:

  1. Suburbs of California in the 1980s.
  2. Slave colonies of Virginia in early 1800.

Most of the times, students confuse plot with the setting and think that both are the same things. You need to remember that these are not the same, but totally different aspects.

The setting shows the society and area in which the story is taking place and the plot is different.

It is important when working on this essay. It can help you to analyze the impact of the social setting and era on the thinking of some specific character.

2.4 Characters

Characters are the backbone of any piece of literature and no writing is complete without them.

While writing the literary essay, you need to concentrate on how the characters develop and how they are portrayed.

In most of the literary works, there are three types of characters.

Protagonist: hero.

Antagonist: villain or the bad guy.

Catalyst: an important character who is not the protagonist or antagonist.

Just stating what the characters are doing, would be of no use. You have to think beyond and try to find an explanation of why the characters are the way they are.

So, concentrate on the development and presentation of the characters in order to analyze them deeply.

2.5 Imagery

Mostly, the imagery is used as a symbol and many of the story's main elements are hidden in them. Therefore, it is an important aspect of the literary work. In it, the author attempts to draw a picture in the reader’s mind.

In this kind of essay, the students have to depict their detailed understanding of different aspects of the essay. It is important to talk about the elements as well.

In the essay, talk about the impact of the use of imagery on the story. Or work of literature, on the development of the story, as well as its impact on the characters.

2.6 Symbolism

Symbolism is an important aspect of any piece of literature. It is not explained in words but is hidden in the text and explained through different means. In simple words, when an object is meant to represent an idea greater than the object itself such as cross, owl, bald eagle etc.

It is quite tricky to identify them but, it is extremely important that you identify and include them into your essay.

Explaining symbols and their influence will add depth and give more character to your essay.

The author mentions little details and objects that are related to the characters, setting or plot of the story. Symbols are subtle meanings behind incidents and objects, especially in novels.

2.7 Irony

Irony is one of the most impactful elements of literature, which leaves an impression on the memory of the readers.

Irony is something that is opposite to the expectations or even to the desires of some specific characters and readers.

Imagine something is going smoothly and you anticipate a good ending and suddenly everything is changed without any explanation.

Who can forget such an end?

Explain its impact and how it affected the other characters.

2.8 Foreshadowing

Many times, the authors try to hint the future or the expected events of the story through their description. That is actually the foreshadowing.

The author hints to the readers about what they can expect from the characters or the plot of the story. Impress your teacher by presenting your point of view and analysis of such an incident.

The explanation can have different points of view.

3. Literary Analysis Essay Outline

Wondering how to write an essay outline? find out below!

Structure in literature work is very important, one should devote enough time in creating the essay structure/outline. It plays an important role in deciding the paper’s success. Students usually ask ‘how to structure an essay’, it’s pretty simple. Generally, it contains the following things:

Introduction - This section introduces the topic to the reader by including interesting information to catch their attention. 

Body Paragraphs - After the introduction move to the body section to present ideas, statements, and explanations to support your claim. 

Conclusion - It is the last and most important part of the essay that show in which way your literary work reflects the plotline and ideas of the author. 

When moving from your outline to writing, you should focus on all the features of the literature work you are going to analyze. 

3.1 Literary Analysis Essay Example

The main objective of a literary analysis paper is to examine and sometimes even evaluate a literary piece of work. Here you can find a literary analytical essay example to help you better appreciate and understand the writing process. 

Literary Essay Example (PDF)

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