Literary Analysis

This assignment focuses on your thoughts about the selected piece of writing, based on the following:
  • Theme
  • Style
  • Syntax
  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • The author’s influences (societal, religious, familial, other)
  • Biases based on the author’s personal experiences
  • Genre
  • Other

Guiding Questions
  • How did each of the above impact your selected writer’s work?
  • Which SPECIFIC examples of each of the above can you find in the texts to support your analysis?

The Paper
  • Take an analytical and/or interpretive stance on your chosen text.
  • State the position clearly in an arguable thesis.
  • Develop and expand your ideas through the use of paraphrases and quotations of specific textual evidence. (Please go beyond regurgitation of plot!)
  • Avoid choosing a thesis that too closely resembles one you have found in literary criticisms you researched.

Essay Requirements

Content and length:

  • 2-3 pages typed (double spaced, normal, readable12-point font, 1” margins)
  • Thoroughly analyze and interpret the text.
  • Create an arguable thesis.
  • Support thesis with specific quotes, details, and evidence.
  • Avoid mere plot summary.
  • Write a well-organized and well-developed essay.


  • Give your essay an original title.
  • Write with confidence and style. (diction, syntax, Standard English conventions)
  • Revise for content and edit for grammar, spelling, and mechanics.
  • Introduce quotes correctly.
  • Use correct MLA formats for parenthetical citation, page numbering, and works cited. (Dust off your Research Methods notes.)

Sample thesis statements:

arguable: In “Good Country People,” O’Connor makes a scathing statement against the hypocrisy of organized religion.

non arguable: In “Good Country People,” O’Connor tells the story of the dysfunctional relationship between a mother and her daughter.

arguable: Many clues point to the fact that Poe was painting the picture of a true sociopath in the narrator, Montresor.

non arguable: “The Cask of Amontillado” is about a man bent on revenge.

arguable: Despite Romeo and Juliet’s poor decisions, those responsible for their deaths are their parents.

non arguable: In The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet the main characters come to an early demise at their own hands.

Literary analysis scoring guide
Your essay will be graded according to the THIS RUBRIC as well as the guidelines listed below.

100 points for content
50 points for grammar/style/MLA documentation
= TOTAL 150 points (which will be calculated as a percentage).

High-caliber essay have or are …

Ø a clear thesis
Ø thorough, well-founded analysis
Ø well-organized structure
Ø in-depth development of ideas
Ø effective use of supporting details and quotes
Ø sufficient content
Ø an original title

Less effective essays have or are ...

Ø a vague thesis
Ø unconvincing or less convincing analysis
Ø illogical or ineffective organization
Ø underdeveloped ideas
Ø ineffective use of supporting details and quotes
Ø too much summary or quotes
Ø no or too few quotes
Ø insufficient content
Ø a generic title or no title

High Quality grammar/style/MLA documentation includes ...

Ø no/few errors in Standard English conventions
Ø distinct style and voice
Ø effective use of sources
Ø the correct MLA parenthetical citation for quotes and ideas, header and page numbers, and work cited page

Less Effective grammar/style/MLA documentation includes ...

Ø an abundance of errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling
Ø generic or drab style and/or voice
Ø ineffective use of sources
Ø no, little, or incorrect MLA parenthetical citation
Ø quotes mishandled or no/improper introductions
Ø no essay page numbers
Ø errors on MLA works cited page or no MLA works cited page