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Literary Analysis Essay

Literary Analysis Essay

Every literature student knows that literary studies boil down to reading a text and analyzing what you have read. However, sometimes literary texts get so complex that you can’t even understand the combinations of words and their meaning. When this happens, picking literary research paper topics becomes extra hard. That’s why we’ve decided to compile a list of literary essay example topics as well as give you a couple of tips on how to deal with this type of assignment.

How to Write a Literary Essay

Before we focus our attention on literary essay topics, let’s first have a look into the way you can organize your work in order to achieve the best result. There are three main rules that we’d like to highlight, which will make work easier for you and will improve the quality of the paper. You might already be familiar with them after having worked with common literary themes, but freshening them up won’t do any harm. So they are the following:

1. The common format of an academic essay is usually pretty much the same, but every field of studies still tends to have small peculiarities you should be aware of. In a literary essay, it’s important to always write any mentioned titles of other works in italics. Another rule concerns applying quotation marks if you’re dealing with a reference to a poem or a short story. Then the title should be both italic and in between the quotation marks.

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2. Speaking of quotes, don’t overuse them. In some cases, a reference to a quote is completely justified, but if your essay consists of only those, it creates an impression of a slack job. When you opt to include quotes, always leave a clear trace to the original text. The reader should be able to easily find the sources if there is a need. However, try to avoid using arguments and assumptions from other sources altogether. While with literary quotes it’s necessary, arguments are something that should be the result of your own work.

3. The first step of writing an essay is studying the list of themes. But what comes next? In order to yield the best result, you should start with composing a literary analysis outline. If this phrase makes you feel lost, don’t worry. We’ve prepared a detailed explanation of what a literary analysis essay example should consist of.

The Steps of Writing a Literary Essay

So how to write a literary analysis essay? An analysis paper outline includes 5 core steps you need to take.


A literary analysis format always requires a title to be the first part of an essay. A rule of thumb that usually works with a title is to make it as narrow and up to the point as possible. It should also express the stance that the author is about to take. At the same time, it should be intriguing enough to make the reader delve into the text.


The most important part of an analysis essay outline is the thesis statement. We’ll talk more about the introduction in the next segment, but as you may already know the thesis goes at the end of it. It’s the “moral of the story” of your essay and its strongest sentence since it introduces and summarizes what will be discussed next.


Introduction plays a role similar to the one of the title. It gives some background information, warms up the reader and grabs his or her attention. The introduction should always be shorter than any of the body paragraphs.

Body paragraphs

A literary analysis never obliges you to retell what the story is about. In fact, you shouldn’t focus on more than a very concise summary of the plot. Other than that, the biggest chunk of a literary essay is a reflection of your own vision of connection, themes, symbols, characters and so on.

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The most common literary essay will fall in the word count of 500-700 words (How Many Pages Is a 500 Word Essay? – here standards of writing). These are usually split into three body paragraphs besides the introduction and conclusion. Each body paragraph needs to focus on a separate idea and be backed up with quotes from the text. You might also use quotes from other analytical papers, but it’s not recommended.

Each body paragraph must begin with its own thesis that will be connected to the main one. This sentence should be short and clear, providing an introduction to the following arguments.


It’s the last part of your essay so avoid bringing in anything new. Instead, use it as an opportunity to leave a good impression on the reader and summarize your points. To do this, repeat your thesis and main arguments but using new wording. Finally, make sure your essay sounds complete.

List of Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • The role of Muslim philosophers of the 15th century in the development of literature worldwide.
  • The works of Charles Dickens were published in frequency of months and sometimes weeks. Why does such practice have no application in modern world of literature?
  • Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche was written more than a century ago. Why is this philosophical work still so easily applicable in modern society?
  • Is being a writer a talent or a result of hard work? Could anyone potentially become a successful literary writer provided they receive appropriate education and practice regularly?
  • Tragic comedy and it’s decreasing popularity in modern literature.
  • Pick up one novel you’re familiar with, and where a transformation of the main character is present. Is such a transformation possible in reality or does it play an exclusively symbolic role for literary purposes?
  • How did literature for children change throughout centuries? Focus on the specific features based on analyzing different works from the past and the present.
  • Electronic books. Convenience or death toll for paperbacks?
  • Choose one novel with a prominent female character and analyze her position from the point of view of modern women’s critical theory. What issues have evolved over time?
  • Express your attitude to copywriting.
  • Analyze racist predispositions present in literary works written in the second half of the previous century.
  • Why do European writers apply the topic of witchcraft and magic more often than writers of other countries do?
  • Compare the Japanese death poems written in 19th and 20th centuries. What are the differences and what is the same?
  • Do you think that the description of violence in some young adult novels is justified?
  • What does it take today to write a good book? What are the differences between modern literature and the writings composed in the previous centuries? Do you think accomplished and well-known classics ould have reached the same level of recognition if they were written nowadays?
  • The changes in approaching storytelling.
  • British literature and a trickster character.
  • Which literary pieces played an important role in shaping cultures?
  • Which cultural peculiarities play an important role in shaping modern literature?
  • The changes that happen to the main character of a book once he or she is placed far away from home.
  • Pick up two political novels that discuss current situations and compare their points of view. Do they find the same issues to be of the highest importance?
  • Find the traces of the Iliad and the Odyssey in modern cultures around the world.
  • Do you think that the ideas and visions of Aldous Huxley about the utopian future have shaped the majority of modern approaches of describing this plot?
  • Medieval literature in Europe and China. What features did they have in common and what set them apart?
  • The effect the Second World War had on post-war literature in general and authors personally.
  • Black humor and literature. How common are these types of jokes in well-known literary works?
  • Are there differences in the character of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman”?
  • The influence of Marx and Engels on the development of European literature in the 20th century.
  • The presence of homosexual characters in literature and their role from ancient times to today.
  • Interdependence of literature and culture. What shapes what?
  • Modern poets and their ability to discover new poetic approaches.
  • Which literary works were the most groundbreaking and outrageous for their own period?
  • Supernatural motives in Latin American literature of the 20th century.
  • What are the key issues and motives that prevail in works published over the course of last fifty years?

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