Writing Perfect Literary Analysis Outline for your Essay

Literary analysis outline

A literary analysis, as the name suggests, scrutinizes and evaluates a given text.

You are required to breakdown 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 character flaw of the protagonist and how the writer reveals it in the text.

In essence, a literary analysis should convince a reader to your interpretation of the text.

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

An outline will help you with both factors, i.e., preparation and organization.

How To Create A Literary Analysis Outline

The following is a guide on a literary analysis outline with illustrations form an analysis of ‘The Lonely, Good Company of Books’ by Richard Rodriguez.

  1. Thesis

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.

For example:

The reading of 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 an acknowledgment by his teachers.

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

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

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

2. Introduction

A good introduction should engage a reader so much that they will be interested in reading the rest of the essay.

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

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

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 futile if done for the sake. The reading of 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 an 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.

3.  Body

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

Not only are you supposed to explain a point, but also use textual evidence (from the play, novel, poem, etc.).

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

Each idea should be in its own paragraph.

Additionally, each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence.

The goal of a topic sentence is to tie together the supporting points the main idea and to connect the paragraph to the thesis statement.

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, but 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 instead tug along due to their teachers’ support. Also, most students’ orientation to reading is always poor as they fail to understand from the begging that the information from books acts as a guideline in the learning process and can be challenged just like Rodriguez

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

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

4.  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 body.

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

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It makes no sense to read a large volume of books without learning. Reading as a learning method is good but requires proper directives in regard to purpose, reading methods as well as book selections since not all books are productive. Furthermore, the focus in reading ought to be placed in 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 read 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 off strong due to the call-to-action in the last sentence.

Note that, the conclusion is your last chance of convincing your reader you had strong, valid, and relevant arguments.

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

In your conclusion, do not:

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

Conclusion

That’s how to create a literary analysis outline.

If you create a good outline, you will have an easy time writing the essay.

That said if you feel you still cannot come up with an excellent literary analysis essay, contact us for professional help.

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