Knowing how to write a literary essay is a real skill to have. If you have ever studied in a college or a university, you know that written assignments are among the most widespread and popular ones.
Students are assigned essays, term papers, research papers, reviews, case studies, scholarly articles, capstone projects, and other tasks almost daily. Some papers are easy to complete. But some can be problematic. A lot depends on a student’s attitude to their studies and their level of knowledge of a discipline. For example, literary essays are easy for some people if they read a lot of books, especially those that are often subject to literary criticism, like John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice And Men”.
However, not everybody has the writing gift and may look to others for help. Some students turn to professionals, like https://essayshark.com/, who are literary essay writers, to deal with complex assignments more effectively. By reaching out to an online service that offers writing assistance, anyone can get help and make progress on their assignment. Most writing services offer good rates to students as they understand the price can be high and budgets limited. A reliable essay writing service will also likely offer things like money-back guarantees, free revisions, customer support, strict policies, confidentiality, and safe payments.
However, if you want to learn how to write a literary essay yourself, this guide will help.
The tips were collected by asking professional writers who have completed a lot of papers for college and university.
What Is A Literary Essay?
So, what is a literary essay?
A literary essay is a type of writing in which the author examines and evaluates a piece of literature. This can include novels, short stories, plays, poems, or any other type of literary work. The essay typically includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion, and it may focus on a specific aspect of the literature, such as the characters, themes, or symbolism.
The goal of a literary essay is to analyze and interpret the work in order to understand its meaning and significance. Such papers discuss books, poems, novels, and other pieces of fictional works. They may focus on the characters, the theme, the way it’s written or the messages it provides. In short, the writer must critically analyse the piece and present their thoughts.
Some examples of topics that literary essays can cover include:
- An analysis of the characters in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”
- A discussion of the themes of love and sacrifice in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”
- An examination of the symbolism in Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”
- An analysis of the structure of Emily Dickinson’s poetry
- A discussion of the use of imagery in Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”
- An examination of the portrayal of gender roles in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”
These are just a few examples of the many different types of literary essays that can be written. They can focus on different elements of literature and can be written about a wide range of literary works.
Let’s look at how a writer can approach the writing of an essay.
How To Write A Literary Essay
So, how do you write a literary essay?
In this section, we’ll break it down into some key considerations, beginning with tips on how to analyse examples of literary essays.
Start with examples of literary essays
You should start by reading great examples of other literary essays written by successful students. Find some samples on the internet and read them to understand how to structure and format such kinds of papers.
Note that reading examples mean getting inspired but not copying these papers. If you copy and paste from other essays, you may fall foul of plagiarism rules and could fail the assignment.
Some examples of the best literary essays include:
- “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson – This essay is considered a classic of American literature and emphasizes the importance of individuality and self-reliance.
- “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf – This feminist essay explores the challenges faced by women writers and the need for women to have financial and intellectual independence.
- “The Death of the Author” by Roland Barthes – This influential essay argues that the author’s intent and biography should not be considered when interpreting a work of literature, and that instead the focus should be on the text itself.
- “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” by Zora Neale Hurston – This personal essay describes the author’s experiences with racial identity and is considered a classic of African American literature.
These are just a few examples of some of the most famous literary essays. They have been widely read and studied, and have had a significant impact on literature and literary criticism. You may get some ideas and inspiration by reading them yourself.
Review your instructions
An important step is to read and review the instructions on writing a literary essay provided by your teacher. These instructions contain guidance on what to do as well as an idea of how to choose and formulate a good and creative topic.
Also, you will understand what formatting style you need to use when writing your essay. Manuals tend to provide recommendations on structuring and plotting your essay. Plus, it’ll also tell you that all-important deadline.
Read the reviewed piece over and over
It is crucial to read the novel, book, or poem you will review. Note that reading a shortened version or a critique will not be as effective as reading the full version. Take time to read the piece and define your emotions when reading it.
Using your genuine impressions on the book or novel you are reviewing is excellent because it will help ensure your ideas are original. When you read the reviewed piece, take notes and question things as much as possible.
Research the topic thoroughly
Collect information about the piece and read book reviews from other authors who have already reviewed it.
Do not repeat the ideas of others. Try to figure out what your own attitude is toward the piece. It can help if you read around the topic to better understand the context. For example, “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee was written as a critique of segregated America.
Therefore, the time when the author lived and wrote their novels, the genre of the piece you are reviewing, and other critical criteria can all help you to review and analyse a book correctly. You can also look for some interviews with an author or seek out some interesting facts from the writer’s biography to see if sheds any more light.
Outline your paper
Creating a good structure for your paper is crucial to make it readable and logically arranged. You must include at least three elements in a literary essay: an introduction, the body, and the conclusion.
An introduction must set out the main thesis, which is your central idea, methodology and a suggestion of the findings. This section is crucial because it catches your audience’s attention and makes them interested in reading the following sections of your paper.
The body must contain evidence that proves your opinion and some analysis of the piece you’ve read. It should consider both sides of the argument and your own insights too.
The last section of your literary essay is the conclusion. This is where you bring everything today and hammer home your own stance, as well as recapping the main arguments.
Finish with editing
The proofreading and editing stage is crucial because it will help you define your paper’s weaknesses and reduce them. Here are 10 quick tips for editing an essay:
- Read your essay out loud to catch any grammar or punctuation mistakes.
- Check for consistency in verb tense and voice.
- Make sure your sentences are clear and concise.
- Make sure your essay flows well and that your ideas are logically organized.
- Check for any factual errors or inaccuracies.
- Make sure you have fully answered the prompt or question.
- Check for plagiarism.
- Proofread for spelling and typographical errors.
- Get feedback from a peer or teacher.
- Take a break before reviewing your essay
You can also try using free online editing tools like Grammarly and Hemingway. These tools help to help to minimize typos and repeated words and help check grammar and punctuation.
Editing is perhaps the most crucial aspect of knowing how to write a literary essay.
Other Tips On Writing A Literary Essay
Let’s summarise some of the tips we’ve covered on writing literary essays. Plus, you can find some additional advice that you may find useful:
- Before you begin writing, make sure you have a thorough understanding of the literary work you will be analyzing. Read the text multiple times, taking note of any themes, symbols, or motifs that stand out to you. Consider the historical and cultural context of the work, as well as the author’s biography and other literary works.
- Develop a clear thesis statement that will guide your essay. Your thesis should be a statement about the text that you will be able to support with evidence from the text. For example, “In ‘The Great Gatsby,’ F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the character of Jay Gatsby to reveal the corrupting influence of wealth and status on the American Dream.”
- Use evidence from the text to support your thesis. This can include direct quotes, examples, and references to specific scenes or passages. Be sure to incorporate specific details and references to the text to make your analysis more concrete and convincing.
- Analyze the literary devices used by the author, such as symbolism, imagery, and figurative language. Consider how these devices contribute to the overall meaning or themes of the text.
- Consider the point of view, narrative style, and structure of the text. How does the author’s choice of point of view or narrative style shape the way we understand the characters and events in the story?
- Use a formal, academic writing style and tone. Avoid using first-person pronouns, slang, or informal language. Use proper grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
- Organize your essay in a logical and coherent manner. Use a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Make sure each paragraph has a clear topic sentence that connects back to your thesis.
- Proofread your essay for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Make sure you have fully answered the prompt or question.
In summary, writing a literary essay requires a deep understanding of the text, a well-defined thesis statement, the use of evidence from the text, an analysis of literary devices, and a formal writing style.
Learn More About Creative Writing And Essays
You can find more tips and advice on writing literary essays via the links below:
- Top tips for creative essay writing
- The best essays on creative writing
- Easy tools writers can use to build suspense – applies to writing essays too
- Head here to learn how to make homework fun
- Here’s a guide on how to be more creative in writing
If you need any more help understanding how to write a literary essay, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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