A method for writing essays about literature second edition
Categorize and classify your examples to give them some order.
Finally, always keep the overall effect in mind. Is the society depicted in good for its citizens? You might be asked to judge a character or group of characters Is Caesar responsible for his own demise? For this kind of essay, there are two important points to keep in mind.
Every literary essay expects you to read and analyze the work, so search for evidence in the text. What do characters in have to say about the government of Oceania? What images does Orwell use that might give you a hint about his attitude toward the government? As in any debate, you also need to make sure that you define all the necessary terms before you begin to argue your case. You should define your terms right up front, in the first paragraph after your introduction.
Writing a literature essay
Second, remember that strong literary essays make contrary and surprising arguments. Try to think outside the box. But can you think of any arguments for the opposite side? Even if your final assertion is that the novel depicts a cruel, repressive, and therefore harmful society, acknowledging and responding to the counterargument will strengthen your overall case. Your introduction sets up the entire essay. A persuasive literary essay immediately establishes its writer as a knowledgeable, authoritative figure.
An introduction can vary in length depending on the overall length of the essay, but in a traditional five-paragraph essay it should be no longer than one paragraph. However long it is, your introduction needs to:. Your introduction should situate the reader and let him or her know what to expect. What book are you discussing? Which characters? What topic will you be addressing? Why is this topic important, and why is your particular position on the topic noteworthy?
Literary essays make unexpected connections and reveal less-than-obvious truths. Beware of the two killer words in literary analysis: interesting and important.
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You know what? It actually sounds pretty amateurish. Another typical mistake student writers make is extolling the work or author.
The Broadview Introduction to Literature: Short Fiction - Second Edition - Broadview Press
Keep your introduction streamlined and to the point. The organization of this middle section of your essay will largely be determined by the argumentative strategy you use, but no matter how you arrange your thoughts, your body paragraphs need to do the following:.
A good topic sentence not only alerts readers to what issue will be discussed in the following paragraph but also gives them a sense of what argument will be made about that issue. Body paragraphs are like bricks: each individual one needs to be strong and sturdy or the entire structure will collapse. Make sure you have really proven your point before moving on to the next one. Good literary essay writers know that each paragraph must be clearly and strongly linked to the material around it.
Think of each paragraph as a response to the one that precedes it. A good conclusion will:. In your introduction, you made a case for why your topic and position are important. You should close your essay with the same sort of gesture. How will that knowledge help them better appreciate or understand the work overall? Your essay has most likely treated a very specific element of the work—a single character, a small set of images, or a particular passage.
In your conclusion, try to show how this narrow discussion has wider implications for the work overall. A conclusion should open up your highly specific, focused discussion, but it should do so without drawing a sweeping lesson about life or human nature. The Odyssey by: Homer. Writing help How to Write Literary Analysis. Introduction When you read for pleasure, your only goal is enjoyment. Contents 1.
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Ask questions 2. Collect evidence 3. Construct a thesis 4. Develop and organize arguments 5. Write the introduction 6. Write the body paragraphs 7. Write the conclusion. Take a deep breath and start by asking yourself these questions: What struck you? What confused you? Did you notice any patterns?
Did you notice any contradictions or ironies? Frankenstein and his monster alike? A good interpretation of fiction will:. The following steps are intended as a guide through the difficult process of writing an interpretive paper that meets these criteria. Writing tends to be a highly individual task, so adapt these suggestions to fit your own habits and inclinations. A good paper inevitably begins with the writer having a solid understanding of the work that he or she interprets. Being able to have the whole book, short story, or play in your head—at least in a general way—when you begin thinking through ideas will be a great help and will actually allow you to write the paper more quickly in the long run.
Flip back through the book and consider what interests you about this piece of writing—what seemed strange, new, or important?
Perhaps your instructor has given you a list of topics to choose, or perhaps you have been asked to create your own. What is a pattern or a problem? A pattern can be the recurrence of certain kinds of imagery or events.
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Usually, repetition of particular aspects of a story similar events in the plot, similar descriptions, even repetition of particular words tends to render those elements more conspicuous. These details might help me interpret the way characters think about themselves and about each other, as well as allow me to infer what the author might have wanted her reader to think by using the Bible as a frame of reference.
On another subject, I also notice that the book repeatedly refers to types of education. The story mentions books that its characters read and the different contexts in which learning takes place. Not all problems lead in interesting directions, but some definitely do and even seem to be important parts of the story.
In Frankenstein, Victor works day and night to achieve his goal of bringing life to the dead, but once he realizes his goal, he is immediately repulsed by his creation and runs away. Is there something wrong with his creation, something wrong with his goal in the first place, or something wrong with Victor himself?
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Just start making a list of whatever you remember from your reading, regardless of how insignificant it may seem to you now. Step 5 will cover some further elements of fiction that you might find useful at this stage as well. Do this step just off the top of your head. Keep in mind that persuasive papers rely on ample evidence and that having a lot of details to choose from can also make your paper easier to write. It might be helpful at this point to jot down all the events or elements of the story that have some bearing on the two or three topics that seem most promising.
This can give you a more visual sense of how much evidence you will have to work with on each potential topic. Based on the evidence that relates to your topic—and what you anticipate you might say about those pieces of evidence—come up with a working thesis. Once you have a working topic in mind, skim back over the story and make a more comprehensive list of the details that relate to your point. These other examples might provide a context or some useful contrasts that could illuminate my evidence relating to Victor. As you make your notes keep track of page numbers so you can quickly find the passages in your book again and so you can easily document quoted passages when you write without having to fish back through the book.
At this point, you want to include anything, anything, that might be useful, and you also want to avoid the temptation to arrive at definite conclusions about your topic. Remember that one of the qualities that makes for a good interpretation is that it avoids the obvious. When you jot down ideas, you can focus on the observations from the narrator or things that certain characters say or do. These elements are certainly important. It might help you come up with more evidence if you also take into account some of the broader components that go into making fiction, things like plot, point of view, character, setting, and symbols.
Plot is the string of events that go into the narrative. Plots can be significant in themselves since chances are pretty good that some action in the story will relate to your main idea. For example, the plot of Frankenstein, which involves a man who desires to bring life to the dead and creates a monster in the process, bears some similarity to the ancient Greek story of Icarus who flew too close to the sun on his wax wings. Grossberg, L. Hall, S. Harvey, D. Hunt, L. Jackson, P.