Writing the Analytical
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
Brainstorm your ideas about the work you are
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
Summarizing the original piece of writing will
result in interpreting the work in your own
Analyzing a Piece of Literature,
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.
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
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
Make sure that all the supporting evidence in
your body paragraphs directly support your
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!