literary analysis 45

This essay will be an ANALYSIS of a TEXT. Both of these are terms that require definition and reflection before you begin to plan your essay.

  • Analysis: the process of breaking down a substance, topic, or TEXT into its component parts in order to learn more the composition of the whole.
  • Text: “In literary theory, a text is any object that can be “read,” whether this object is a work of literature [or media], a street sign, an arrangement of buildings on a city block, or styles of clothing. It is a coherent set of signs that transmits some kind of informative message” (Wikipedia).

Although it might be fascinating to engage in analysis of architecture or fashion, in this assignment we will confine ourselves to “works of literature or media.” Specifically, you will analyze one of the following:

  • One of the six assigned stories you are presently discussing in the DQ forum.
  • Another short story of your choice that you have submitted for approval by the instructor.
  • A film
  • A graphic novel

Here are some very important things to keep in mind as you approach the essay:

  1. In a literary analysis, assume that your audience has already read or viewed the text that you are discussing. This means, of course, that plot summary is unnecessary and in fact should not be present. It also means that there is no need to follow the “order” of a story’s plot in your analysis. You are analyzing “pieces” of the text and discussing their purpose, the ways that they contribute to the text’s overall impression or effect.
  2. Your own emotional reaction (how much you liked or disliked the story, film, etc.) should not be a part of the essay at all. You will derive some opinion or point of view about the text (your thesis), and you will demonstrate its validity to your reader.
  3. These are analyses, not reviews. If you choose a short story, you will not discuss whether a character’s dialogue is realistic or convincing. If you choose a film, you will not evaluate the quality of actors’ performances (although you might discuss how their characterizations contribute to the film’s overall message or effect). If you choose a graphic novel, you might discuss how the artist’s use of light or shading contributes to the text’s mood, but you would not discuss whether the rendering of a character is unrealistic or unappealing.
  4. This is not a research paper, and the only work that must appear as a “Work Cited” is the text itself. You are discussing your interpretation of the text. For this reason, it is probably not a good idea to read interpretations of your chosen text in literary journals, Sparknotes, Cliffs Notes, etc. If you do use any information from a critical or secondary source, you are of course obligated to document it.
  5. I prefer you to do it over a movie


  • Point value: 150
  • MLA format
  • 800-1000 words
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