There are absolutely no doubts that literature is an art. This is the main reason why it does not assume an unambiguous interpretation. Literary essay, sometimes substituted by the terms “literary criticism” or “literary analysis”, is exactly the kind of written work in which various points of view on works of literature are described. Teachers usually give such kind of a home assignment under literary curriculum in order to find out whether the student understands the author’s conception or not.
When you start writing a literary essay, you are first of all to choose the aspect of the literary work you want to focus on. It may be a particular episode or chapter, the main hero or relationships between characters – in any case, it is up to you to decide. Remember that essays differ from one genre of literature to another; you would have different essay compositions and techniques for a novel, drama or poetry, for instance. After you have picked up a topic your next step is to provide it with your own interpretation.
Using Quotations Correctly
To prove your point of view you are obliged to use certain evidence out of the original text, named quotations. Literary critics say there must be not less than five citations in your essay. They must not be random; the main purpose is to testify your personal opinion and extend the understanding of the author’s conception.
Do not be influenced by the bad habit of simply retelling the text. Use the text selectively and do not forget about punctuation marks the quotation is accompanied by. There are two ways to use citations:
- implanting it into the canvas of the narration. In this case the citation is written in quotation marks;
- presenting the quotation and then interpreting it. In this case two-spot, quotes and dash are used.
Get Prepared to a Discussion
Be ready to defend the point of view you express in your literary essay in real life. One of your groupmates or teachers may challenge you for a discussion. Try not to sound proofless.
The tone of narration is to be serious, use formal style while supporting your point of view. Do not waffle over the topic, do not write to no purpose. Each word has to be sensible and meaningful. Make use of various stylistic devices and emotive models, language tools, basic philological notions (irony, climax, composition etc) in order to emphasize your unique style of writing.