What is a literary analysis? A literary analysis is an interpretation of the written text, which involves the use of concepts specifically associated with literature Literary Concepts The Basics Additional Concepts Plot Historical Content Setting Social significance Characterization Political view point Symbolism Ideology Metaphors Critical Orientation Genre Literary Theory Irony/ambiguity Multiple voices Narration/ambiguity How to argue in an analysis Focus on specific attributes of the text: Make sure your specific point(s) (thesis) are arguable Defend your point(s) with reason, based on evidence from the text (dialogue, description, setting, etc.) Argue your points much like a legal advocate You can argue either strongest evidence first/weakest last or vice versa, whatever works best in your opinion Remember, your audience is the judge Thesis Statements The thesis statement: Sets the argument to control the focus of the entire paper Provides unity and a sense of direction Specifies to the reader (audience) the point of the analysis The
sis Statements In Death of a Salesman Miller uses Uncle Charlie’s relationship with his successful son Bernard to emphasize Willy Loman’s failure as a father The Great Gatsby presents a world in which marriage, the stock market, and even the World Series are corrupted by selfish greed Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royale” highlights the bankruptcy of Booker T Washington’s “separate but equal” approach to race relations How to Support a Thesis Statement Use examples from the text: Direct quotations Summaries of scenes Paraphrases Other critic’s opinions Historical, social, economic context Use secondary sources Secondary Sources 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, political, or economic context of the text you are discussing Integrating Secondary Sources Be sure to show how a secondary source relates to your thesis Don’t overuse any one secondary source, or for that matter, secondary sources in general Remember that this is your paper, your argument – the secondary sources are just helping your argument NEVER plagiarize from a secondary source Additional Strategies Avoid summarizing the work analyzed Narrow the scope of your response Pre-write to explore the topic & develop a thesis Support your thesis with evidence from the text Avoid extensive direct quotations Write in the present tense After writing the first draft, review the work and examine your thesis and supporting evidence Proofread & re-write – Do NOT rely on spellcheck! Where Can I Go for More Help The Rio Grande Campus Writing Center Bldg A Room 112 Monday – Thursday 8am – 5p Friday 8am – 3pm The Moon Cannot Be Stolen Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing in it to steal Ryokan returned and caught him "You may have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty handed Please take my clothes as a gift." The thief was bewildered He took the clothes and slunk away Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon "Poor fellow, " he mused, "I wish I could give him this beautiful moon."