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How to Write a Literary Analysis. What is a critical analysis?. An analytical response explores how theme, plot, structure, characters, genre, style, and/or language contribute to meaning.
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What is a critical analysis? • An analytical response explores how theme, plot, structure, characters, genre, style, and/or language contribute to meaning. • A critical/theoretical/evaluative response involves locating works within their social, political, historic, and even philosophic contexts.
How do I start? • Begin with a close reading • Look at the calculated choices writers make in creating their work (i.e. how individual words and images connect, how themes and characters are developed)
Examine works in context • What does this work reveal about life and the human condition? • Does this text reveal something significant about a particular culture, philosophical idea, or time in history? • Analysis can explore the relationships among texts, people, and society.
Keep an open mind • Draw on previous research/conversations in class • Though your analysis does not need to agree with everyone, you should be willing to keep an open mind to learn more from others
Generating Ideas • Choose a topic you connect with • You want to write about something that interests you
Key Focus Points • Clearly identify the author and work you are analyzing • Examine the text closely • Focus on the text itself (i.e. plot, character, setting, theme, language) • Focus on themes/meanings/interpretations
Focus on author’s history and historical context • Focus on genre • Focus on influence • Focus on social connections
Remember… • Everyone brings his/her own reading to a text based on personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, etc. • Therefore… • Back up your points with specific examples and direct quotations!
The Thesis Statement • Make an assertion or an observation that you believe is worth proving and significant to understanding the text (from evidence within the work itself and/or outside research)
A Thesis Statement… • Makes a clear assertion about the text and its meaning • Is specific (neither too vague nor too narrow) • Is critically insightful • Is valid • Is stylistically interesting and uses formal diction EXAMPLE: • Theme of To Kill a Mockingbird: coming of age • When she encounters racial hatred in her community, Scout must undergo the difficult transition from childhood innocence to experience.
Let’s examine your thesis statements… • Makes a clear assertion about the text and its meaning • Is specific (neither too vague nor too narrow) • Is critically insightful • Is valid • Is stylistically interesting and uses formal diction
Defend your thesis • Include evidence • Explain complexities (always staying focused on your thesis) so your reader can also recognize the treasure you have found within your work (i.e. specific quotations from text)
Your Essay • Introductory section provides background for your analysis, identifies the work(s) you are examining, and asserts your thesis • Body sections provide your analysis and evidence • Conclusion addresses the broader implications and overall significance of the point(s) you have analyzed
Organization • Introduction = background + thesis statement/assertion • Body paragraphs • Topic Sentence • Context/Explanation • Quotation(s) (page number) • Analysis • Concluding sentence • Conclusion • Don’t restate the thesis. Address the broader implications and overall significance of the concept you have analyzed.
Summer Reading Critical Analysis Essay • Write an essay in which you provide a critical analysis of a theme of the novel. In your introduction, provide background/summary information and state your thesis. In your thesis, make an assertion about how the theme is developed or its significance to the overall meaning of the work. In your body paragraphs, give specific examples of literary elements from the novel which the author uses to develop the theme. Include direct quotations that support your analysis. At the end of your essay, draw a logical conclusion from your analysis; do not just repeat your assertion. Why is this theme significant? What connections can be made between this text and our understanding of life and the human condition?