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Literary Analysis

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  1. Literary Analysis Essay #1 1.5 to 2 pgs Essay #2, 850 words, double spaced

  2. The Basics Plot/Conflict/Resolution Setting Narration/point of view Characterization Symbol/Imagery Metaphor/Simile Irony/ambiguity Epiphany Important Literary Concepts • Other key concepts • Historical context • Social, political, economic contexts • Ideology • Multiple voices • Various critical orientations • Literary theory

  3. Goal: To show an understanding of the text and how an author uses the literary elements within the text NOT simply to re-tell or to summarize the plot.

  4. Basic Literary Analysis • Choose a way to analyze a text:

  5. The Literary Elements • See LO (9-13) • Theme • Conflict and the Plot • Point of View • Setting • Character • Style (figurative language) and Tone • Symbolism

  6. Literary ElementsSetting is the time and place of a story’s action. Setting refers not only to time of day or season but also to the historical period and circumstances, weather conditions, and circumstances of place.

  7. Parts of a Plot • Inciting incident – event that gives rise to conflict (opening situation) • Development- events that occur as result of central conflict (rising action) • Climax- highest point of interest or suspense of story • Resolution- when conflict ends • Denouement- when characters go back to their life before the conflict

  8. Types of Conflict Part of the plot is centered some sort of conflict that will put the character into a situation (a struggle of opposing forces): • character vs. character • character vs. society • character vs. nature • character vs. self __________________________________

  9. Style and Tone Style relates to an author’s use of vocabulary, level of diction, sentence structure, arrangement of ideas. It is “a combination of two elements: the idea to be expressed and the individuality of the author” (“Style” 487). Tone shows the author’s attitude toward his or her subject. A tone might be “formal, informal, intimate, solemn, sombre, playful, serious, ironic, condescending” (“Tone” 503).

  10. Look for some sort of Truth or insight, a message. Any given work will have multiple meanings (‘themes’). For example, Margaret Atwood's "Happy Endings" is a about how one should savor the development of one's life, and move beyond its structure to focus on its meaning, or a treatise on how to write, or both--all depending upon one's reading of the work.

  11. Two Kinds of Symbols Conventional or traditional symbols: These symbols have meanings that large numbers of people understand. They embody universal suggestions of meaning, such as that a voyage suggests life or flowing water suggests time and eternity (“Symbol” 467). Can you guess what the visual symbols below stand for? Depending on one’s own cultural background, she might answer that these are three of the letter t. Or he might say that they are the masts of a ship. If one has been raised in a Judeo-Christian culture, however, it’s highly likely that that person might see three crosses here, representative of the Crucifixion of Jesus and salvation. • In the course assignments, I have organized the sections in a general subject format: gender, nature, family, and so on. But the theme of Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” is not simply “nature.” Instead one might want to formulate a complete sentence about the relationship of man and nature.

  12. Examples of symbols • In Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers,” the canary is itself a pet bird, but it also seems to stand for Mrs. Wright, of the sweet singing voice, caged and finally (spiritually) killed. • In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark,” Georgianna’s birthmark is itself but may also be seen as a concrete illustration of the imperfection of physical humanity, an imperfection which Aylmer, in his quest to play God and control nature, cannot accept. • In Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat,” the boat is itself but is also a symbol of the larger world (a small world = “microcosm”) in which a community of men must grapple with the forces of nature.

  13. Two Kinds of Symbols (continued) Private or original symbols: These kinds of symbols may be relative, dependent upon the beholder or upon how they are used in a work. The park bench where you metthe one you love is a private symbolwhich you interpret privately. The empty space on the wall where the picture once was could be a private symbol of personal loss for one person, while for another the lighter shade of that space simply indicates that a wall needs to be painted. In fact, a symbol may shift in meaning as the work develops. Private symbols “acquire” meaning because of the ways they are used in a literary work (“Symbol” 467). Critic Sven Birkerts writes that private symbols gain their meaning “gradually, through repetition or strategic placement” and that they have “powerful, condensed meanings” (“Symbolism” 113).

  14. What is an Analysis? • An analysis of a literary work may discuss • How the various components of an individual work relate to each other • How two separate literary works deal with similar concepts or forms • How concepts and forms in literary works relate to larger aesthetic, political, social, economic, or religious contexts

  15. Basic Literary Analysis • Use quotations from the text that illustrate your point and then explain them.

  16. Format • Introduction: • “Hook” (see RG: pg 22) to get the reader’s attention. • Title and author of work with brief info about the work. • Thesis which states the literary element you are analyzing and what you hope to prove in your paper.

  17. Which is the Best Thesis Statement? • Moby-Dick is about the problem of evil. • Moby-Dick is boring and pointless. • Moby-Dick is about a big, white whale. • The use of “whiteness” as imagery in Moby-Dick illustrates the theme of uncertainty about the meaning of life that Ishmael expresses throughout the novel.

  18. Format • Body Paragraphs: • Each paragraph should be focused on a certain idea connected to the thesis • Use “The Three I-ed Monster” to build each paragraph. (We’ll discuss this in a minute!) Include primary and secondary sources!

  19. What is a Secondary Source? • A book or article that discusses the text you are discussing • A book or article that discusses a theory related to the argument you are making • A book or article that discusses the social and historical context of the text you are discussing

  20. Format • Conclusion (see RG: pg 23-24) • Sum up your argument. • Hit the high notes! • Do NOT introduce any new quotes or information. • While the paper does not use I or me, here you can include your opinion of the piece and get more personal.

  21. Writing a Strong Body ParagraphThe Three I-ed Monster • Identify • Integrate • Interpret

  22. The Three I-ed Monster - Identify • Identify which words from a text you want to use in your paper. • Use the strongest portion of the text that fits your topic. • Avoid using quotations of more than three sentence unless absolutely necessary. • Use quotation marks around direct quotes • Use parenthetical documentation to cite your source.

  23. The Three I-ed Monster - Integrate • Mix the words of your source in with your own words to introduce your quote. • Do not allow your quotation to “float” (to be in a sentence all by itself without words of your own).

  24. EXAMPLE • NO: “The use of fire imagery shows that the main character is in a constant state of turmoil.” (Jones 24) • YES: Fire is present throughout the book and it “shows that the character is in a constant state of turmoil.” (Jones 24)

  25. The Three I-ed Monster - Interpret • Think about: How does analyzing literature in this way help us to understand the text, ourselves, and/or our world in general?

  26. Explain: • how this quotation fits into the thesis of your paper • why it is important in understanding the text • what this quote tells us about the text and/or life

  27. Your next literary analysis essay will be due on Friday, March 10th. • Begin early!