As I mentioned in class the other day, you have a few options for this literary analysis paper.
Now, what is a literary analysis? A literary analysis paper (for our purposes) ignores everything except the text. So, you don’t need to rely on outside sources — your thoughts are just as valid as anyone else’s thoughts. That’s a good thing. Still, what is it? The main purpose of a literary analysis is to examine a text in order to explain and expand upon/deepen our understanding of the text. It is very often judgmental…but there’s a catch.
This is not a book review. You do not have to tell me whether you loved the book or hated it, so that kind of judgment doesn’t count. Instead, you examine the author’s craft. You judge how well (effectively) or how poorly (ineffectively) the author accomplished a particular goal.
What’s the goal, you may ask? The goal of most writers is to convey a theme (or themes) to the reader. Robert Heinlein is known for discussing certain ideas, certain themes throughout his fifty years of writing. Just about every idea/theme that he ever wrote about shows up in our novel. They include:
So…your job is to pick ONE of these and discuss it. Okay, you may realize that some of these are really closely related. That’s true. So your job is to pick ONE of these or ONE group of interrelated ideas and discuss it/them.
How do you discuss them well while focusing on the literature?
First, choose an idea or set of ideas. Then brainstorm a list of instances when/where these ideas are expressed in the story. Then, choose ONE element (or perhaps two closely related elements) of fiction to narrow your focus on the theme. The choices of elements of fiction include:
Now, the example that I used in class today (for those who were absent) was this.
Let’s say we focus on the theme of “prejudice.” Important: remember that a theme is not a topic. Prejudice is a topic. A theme says something ABOUT a topic, such as “prejudice is terrible” or “prejudice is endemic to human society” or something like that.
In our example, we said that “Throughout the story of Friday, Heinlein shows that prejudice is awful and affects our protagonist in negative, dehumanizing ways.” Then we brainstormed instances of prejudice.
Now, we can choose “character” and examine how Friday develops as a character throughout these encounters with prejudice. Or, we could examine “language” and focus on dialogue and narration to see how these prejudicial situations are expressed. Or we could focus on symbols and how often, and why, she refers to her creation as “my mother was a test tube and my father was a knife.” Or we could focus on setting to show how setting affects or figures into the expression of prejudice. Or we could examine the plot and show how the focus on prejudice is throughout the story but rears its head in stronger or weaker episodes.
So, you see, while thinking about the theme of “prejudice is bad,” we can use one or more elements of fiction to show how well/poorly the author constructed the story to get that idea across.
There are NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS. The answers are all good as long as you can support them, back them up, and explain them clearly. Do not worry about showing your like or dislike for the book. That’s not the point here. Instead, show that Heinlein did a good job, a bad job, or an uneven job (sometimes good and sometimes bad) in conveying this theme to you, the reader.
I hope this helps.
Some other things to consider.
Remember that this type of essay is different from the previous one. In a exemplification essay, we have an emphasis on evidence (along with explanations of that evidence). In a literary analysis essay, the emphasis is reversed. You certainly have textual evidence, but the emphasis is on your analysis — your thoughts, insights, perceptions. You need to give judgment and show not only what you think but why you think that.
You essay must be :
NOTE: Sources such as spark notes, monkey notes, shmoop, e-notes, wikipedia, and other essay-helping sites are simply not acceptable. Your grade on an assignment will be a ZERO if you provide evidence from these types of sites.
NB: We do not resell papers. Upon ordering, we do an original paper exclusively for you.
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