Writing the Analytical Essay What does it mean to analyze? Analyze means “to separate a subject into its parts (analyze), or the act or result of doing so” (Kennedy, Kennedy, and Aaron 692). The process of analyzing involves breaking an object into its parts and examining those parts. Analyzing for Essay Writing When analyzing a piece of writing, first examine your response to the elements of the work. Brainstorm your ideas about the work you are analyzing. Create a working thesis (statement of purpose) about the piece you are analyzing. Analyzing a Piece of Literature Whether your assignment is to analyze an essay, short story, or novel, there are certain steps you can follow in the process of analytical writing. Summarizing the original piece of writing will result in interpreting the work in your own original way. Analyzing a Piece of Literature, Continued Works of fiction are often complicated and open to interpretation. Likewise, articles and other types of nonfiction are often biased. In the process of analyzing a work of fiction or nonfiction, it is the writer’s job to find unsubstantiated claims or to search for hidden meaning and messages. Analyzing a Work of Fiction If you are analyzing a short story or novel, look for the author’s use of symbolism. For example, colors often stand for broad ideas. Green can convey envy, money, or fertility. Also, look for allusions to historic or cultural events. Understanding and explaining such indirect references will help you get at the deeper meaning of the story. Analyzing a Work of Fiction, Continued In the process of analysis, consider the basic plot (your summary), the characters (protagonist, antagonist, and all others), and the setting of the story (time and location). Consider the point of view from which the story is related (first person, third person omniscient, or third person objective). Focus on an interesting or complex character or problem in the plot. Analyzing a Work of Nonfiction Analyze the claim the author is making. What is the author’s main point? How does the author support that point? Is the support sufficient? Is that support valid? Base your thesis on how the components of the essay contributes to the overall effectiveness of the essay’s purpose Other Criteria for Analysis: When analyzing a nonfiction essay, the rhetorical components of: * audience * purpose These provide a context for the paper, as well as: * essay structure: introduction, thesis (claim) evidence, paragraph organization and conclusion Constructing Your Essay Like any type of essay, an analytical essay consists of an introductory paragraph ending with a thesis statement, supporting body paragraphs, and a strong concluding paragraph. Make sure that all the supporting evidence in your body paragraphs directly support your thesis. Conclusion An analytical essay involves a great deal of critical thinking on the part of the writer. The reward at the end of the process is an original creation, and a thorough understanding of what has been analyzed!
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