Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

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Writing a Literary Analysis Essay Powered By Docstoc
					Writing a Literary Analysis Essay
by Jodi Smith
Plainfield North High School
Go Tigers!!! J
• The purpose of an essay is
  to prove an argument. This
  means that it is an opinion
  paper supported by
  textual evidence.
• An essay is not a report.
  While an essay uses facts
  from the text, its primary
  purpose is not to inform—it
  is to persuade.
Think of an Essay Like a Courtroom
• “Ladies and Gentlemen of
  the Jury, I would like to
  introduce to you
  Huckleberry Finn. He was
  born to an abusive
  alcoholic father. As a
  teenager, he traveled
  down the Mississippi,
  learning much from those
  he encountered.”
As a Member of the Jury…
• How do you know whether
  the attorney wants to
  accuse or exonerate
  Huckleberry Finn?
• You DON’T!
• Why not?
• Because there is no thesis.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the
• “…Huckleberry Finn was
  brought up in an environment
  that gave him a twisted sense
  of morality. His father abused
  all around him, and his
  temporary guardians further
  confused him by having a
  double standard by which they
  lived. Nevertheless, through his
  own experience traveling down
  the Mississippi River, Huckleberry
  Finn developed a sense of
  morality that was better formed
  than the respected members of
  his community.”
As a Member of the Jury…
• Do you know what the
  attorney is trying to prove?
• How do you know?
• This assertion—that
  Huckleberry Finn
  developed a better sense
  of morality than most of
  the characters in the novel
  —is the thesis.
But don’t try to collect your fee yet!
There’s still work to do!
• Now that you have decided what position
  you are going to argue, you need to lay out
  the evidence.
• Like any good attorney, you will use the
  words of Huckleberry Finn himself to
  prove your case. (He is your star witness!)
  – You need to choose specific quotations that
    directly support your thesis.
• Remember to start at the beginning of the
  novel…your thesis talks about his
  development, so you will need “before”
  and “after” quotations.
Ok, now you’ve got some
• What you cannot do is go into court,
  make your opening arguments
  (introduction and thesis), plunk all of your
  evidence on the table, and call it a day. J
   – First, you must introduce your evidence.
     (What events or character development
     surround this quotation?)
   – Then, you must show how your evidence fits
     into the argument you are making. (Connect
     the quotation back to your main point.)
Some things to keep in mind…
• You should have a minimum of three
  subpoints or “subarguments” that support
  your thesis.
• Each “subargument” need to have two
  pieces of evidence (quotations and
  elaboration) attached to it.
  – Think of it this way: if you are trying to
    establish the whereabouts of your client,
    having only one witness hurts your case.
Now you try…
• Choose one of the quotations your
  classmates suggested. Write a paragraph
  that introduces your evidence, states your
  evidence, then explains how your evidence
  supports the thesis.
  – You will be sharing your work with the jury,
    and they will tell you if your introduction and
    explanation of evidence was satisfactory. (10
Ok, now you’ve laid out your
• …so it’s time for closing
  – As a good attorney, what
    might you say for your
    closing arguments? (Hint,
    hint—volunteer and speak
    extemporaneously! J)
Questions? Ok, let’s review…
• The introduction of the
  paper includes your
  thesis statement and
  therefore suggests to
  your reader where your
  paper is going.
Ah! Now we come to it…
• Your body paragraphs
  then lead your
  audience to your
  conclusion, taking them
  step by step through
  your thought process
  related to the
Review your points and collect
your fee…
• Quickly touch on your
  main points and lead
  your audience back to
  your thesis. By this
  point, your conclusion
  should follow logically.
Don’t forget to bill your client…
• Include a Works Cited
  – Any time you cite a work,
    you must list the works you
    cited at the end. And of
    course, without citing a work,
    your argument is either weak
    or plagiarized…which may
    result in being disbarred…or
    tarred and feathered. L

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