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Crafting a Comprehensive Literary Analysis Essay Outline With Examples

May 18, 2023

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May 18, 2023 | Blog

As the name suggests, a literary analysis scrutinizes and evaluates a given text. It is one of the most enjoyable essays regarding literary criticism and comment.f

You are required to break down a piece to identify its constituent elements so that you can understand and appreciate a piece of literature.

For instance, an analysis of a play might look into how a subplot relates to the main plot.

An analysis of a poem might look into the symbolism used by the poet or even the connection between the content and the form.

When analyzing a play or a novel, you could focus on the protagonist’s character flaw and how the writer reveals it in the text.

A literary analysis should convince a reader of your interpretation of the text.

Preparation and organization are critical factors if you are to come up with an excellent literary evaluation essay.

A literary analysis outline will help you with both factors, i.e., preparation and organization.


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How To Write A Literary Analysis Essay Outline

How To Write A Literary Analysis Outline

When reading literature in your classes, teachers ask you to write a literary analysis to prove your skills and knowledge. To analyze any book or short story, you need to break it down into small parts and examine how they all work. This is when a literary analysis outline will come in handy.

An outline is like a skeleton. It’s the structure that your writing needs to have to make sense and be understood by an audience.

An outline is a great way to help you organize your thoughts and ideas about an argument, making it easier for readers to follow.

The order of information makes your writing readable by logically distributing the data and also helps convince them that what you’re saying has merit.

How do you make a literary analysis essay clear and readable? Well, the answer is by crafting an outline for it to follow.

You should take this first step in the planning phase of your work before writing or thinking about any other part of it.

A well-constructed essay outline, which usually includes the following components:

  1. Introduction
  2. Thesis statement
  3. Body paragraphs
  4. Conclusion

The basic literary analysis essay outline includes the following elements: introduction/background information, main points, supporting evidence, and conclusion.

The following is a guide on a literary analysis outline with illustrations from the analysis of ‘The Lonely, Good Company of Books’ by Richard Rodriguez and other literary pieces.

1 The Introduction

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction

The introduction is the first essential part of an essay. The introductory paragraph introduces the topic and draws your attention towards it. This opening paragraph usually seeks to introduce readers to subjects they may not have been aware of.

A good introduction should engage readers so they will be interested in reading the rest of the essay.

You should start your introduction with a quote, a provocative question, a controversial statement, or a brief anecdote.

In the introduction of a literary analysis essay, it is important to include background information related to your thesis that will guide the reader to the position you will take.

A literary analysis essay introduction is grounded on three key components: Hook sentence, background information, and thesis statement.

1) Hook Sentence: A hook sentence is the introductory paragraph’s phrase or first sentence. A hook statement aims at grabbing readers’ attention. It’s not enough to just have a catchy opening paragraph, but it should be able to keep them interested and make sure they read the whole essay.

A hook sentence can take any type, such as a quotation or a factual statement. It’s important to choose the right one for your intro, depending on what tone and theme you’re going for.

2) Background Information: Providing all necessary background information in the introduction is essential. The author and title are important aspects that need to be discussed, and any other element related to characters, setting, or plot.

3) Thesis Statement: Before you even start working on your introduction, you need to develop a thesis.

A thesis is a statement that informs your reader point you are trying to prove and what to expect in your essay.

Your thesis statement should come at the end of your introduction.

In a thesis statement for a literary analysis, do not:

  • Address the reader
  • Use the first-person narrator
  • Tell the reader what they will read

The following is an example of a good introduction:

How much do you read? How much information do you retain after reading? The Lonely, Good Company of Books by Rodriguez exploits the misconception of the meaning and purpose of reading by students that have proved lethal in the long run. Reading can be very productive as a mode of learning as it assists in widening the individual’s scope of knowledge and horizon, but it is futile if done for the sake of. Reading a complicated large volume of books by students without absorbing the content, thus failing to learn, is a complete waste of time, as realized by the author later on since initially, his major purpose for reading was acknowledgment by his teachers.

Your introduction should not:

  • Include statements designed to impress rather than add meaning to your work.
  • Be equivocal, i.e., be open to more than one interpretation.
  • Hugely praise the work of literature under analysis.

2 Body Paragraphs

Literary Analysis Essay Body Paragraphs

In this section, you expound on points that support your thesis.

You are supposed to explain a point and use textual evidence (from the play, novel, poem, etc.).

You can paraphrase textual evidence, summarize it, or use direct quotes.

Each idea should be in its paragraph.

Additionally, each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence.

This sentence ties the supporting points to the main idea and connects the paragraph to the thesis statement.

To give shape and structure to the text, all body paragraphs should be written using a template incorporating specific elements: Topic sentence, evidence, analysis, transition words, and concluding sentence.

1) Topic sentence: This is the first sentence of your paragraph. This sentence should contain the main point of your paragraph. You should structure the introductory sentence of each paragraph to introduce the audience to what you’re about to say. To best layout your points, use a clear sentence for readers to know where you are going with this argument

For example:

“The first boy, Jack, believes that a beast truly does exist….”

2) Evidence: Evidence is needed to support the claim made in the topic sentence. The chosen article must have convincing points that make it logical and strong.

For example:

“…He is afraid and admits it; however, he deals with his fear of aggressive violence. He hunts for the beast, arms himself with a spear, and practices killing it: “We’re strong—we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat—!”(91).”

3) Analysis: Some might think that writing a literary analysis essay is just about reading and analyzing the literature, but it’s so much more. A writer must provide evidence to support their topic sentence and explain how they understand this evidence to convey meaningfully.

A literary essay requires a writer to make their analysis known. This serves as an opportunity for readers curious about how you have interpreted this evidence to understand their meaning and significance.

For example:

“…He also uses the fear of the beast to control and manipulate the other children. Because they fear the beast, they are likelier to listen to Jack and follow his orders…”

4) Transition words are often used in a literary analysis essay. Also referred to as connecting words, like “yet” and “but,” they link ideas together to maintain a logical flow while you’re writing your paper.

Commonly used transition words in literary analysis essays include the following:

  • In contrast
  • Later in the story
  • Furthermore
  • Finally

For example:

“…Furthermore, Jack fears Ralph’s power over the group and Piggy’s rational thought. He knows both direct conflicts with his thirst for absolute power…”

Concluding sentence: The concluding sentence is the last paragraph that sums up and wraps up an entire discussion. It should summarize all of your ideas while leaving readers curious to read more about what you have written so far.

Each paragraph in a literary analysis essay should contain these elements to make your work compelling.

The following is a body paragraph of the literary analysis essay we introduced above:

Rodriguez’s experience illustrates the weakness in the education system that overemphasizes certain concepts like reading but fails to provide proper guidelines concerning the reason for its importance and how to go about it. For instance, Rodriguez just knew reading was vital for his success academically. Still, he had no idea why or how, just like most students, and since academic excellence is the center of the education system, they fail to find out and tug along due to their teachers’ support. Also, most students’ orientation to reading is always poor. They fail to understand that the information from books is a guideline in the learning process and can be challenged, just like Rodriguez.

This is a good body paragraph because it starts with a topic sentence related to the thesis.

The introductory sentence is then developed through explanations, summaries, and paraphrasing of text from the book.

3 The Conclusion

Literary Analysis Essay Conclusion

The conclusion sums up your essay and lets your reader know you have come to an end.

It should provide your essay with a sense of completeness by restating the thesis and summarizing the main points in the essay’s body.

Concluding paragraphs should be engaging and creative. Add the following information to conclude your essay:

  • State how your topic is related to the theme of the chosen work
  • State how successfully the author delivered the message
  • According to your perspective, provide a statement on the topic
  • If required, present predictions
  • Connect your conclusion to your introduction by restating the thesis statement.
  • In the end, provide an opinion about the significance of the work.

The following is a conclusion of the literary analysis of ‘The Lonely, Good Company of Books’ used as an example for this guide:

It makes no sense to read a large volume of books without learning. Reading as a learning method is good but requires proper directives regarding purpose, reading methods, and book selections since not all books are productive. Furthermore, the focus on reading should be placed on understanding, and students whose satisfaction in reading does not reflect the joy of learning new things should be discouraged early. So, it is about time students evaluated whether they read to learn or to gain praise from their instructors and peers.

This conclusion starts with a restatement of the thesis, then a summary of the main points.

It finishes strongly due to the last sentence’s call to action.

Note that the conclusion is your last chance to convince your reader you have strong, valid, and relevant arguments.

So, you should not make the mistake of writing a literary analysis conclusion in a rush.

In your conclusion, do not:

  • Introduce a new idea
  • Write an overblown remark about the author’s work

Sample Literary Analysis Essay Outline (PDF)



 What is the Best Analysis Format?

All literary analysis and academic assignments have a specific format from the instructor and style that you must follow. However, if a suggested style has not been mentioned, the best for literary writing such as this is MLA. The Modern Language Association citation format is most commonly used when writing papers within the liberal arts and humanities disciplines.

Literary Analysis Essay Examples

Literary Analysis Essay Examples

The best way to understand a concept in the writing world is through written examples. Written examples help you learn how perfectly structured pieces are drafted, and ideas are shaped to convey messages. The following literary analysis essay samples will give you an idea of what it takes to create one.

Literary Analysis Essay Rubric (PDF)

literary-essay-rubric (1)



Literary Analysis Essay Example For High School (PDF)




Literary Analysis Essay Example For College (PDF)




Literary Analysis Essay Example Romeo & Juliet (PDF)




Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Literary Analysis Essay Topics

If you’re looking for a great literary analysis essay topic, look no further! The experts at EssayFreelanceWriters.Com have compiled the following list of literary analysis topics. From classic literature to modern philosophy, they’ve got it all covered.

  • To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • Corrupting influence of ambition in Macbeth
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • Women and misogyny in Hamlet
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Sense And Sensibility by Jane Austen

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That’s how to write a literary analysis outline. It would be best to devote enough time to your literary analysis essay outline. It can ensure the success of your whole work. That said, if you still cannot develop an excellent literary analysis essay, contact us for professional help.

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