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How to Write a Winning English Analysis Essay

Analysis essays are often assigned in English Literature courses. In this kind of paper, you have to provide an in-depth analysis of a particular theme, technique, or character in a literary work. Although the essay structure and approaches may vary greatly according to the exact nature of your assignment, there are general recommendations to follow.

  • Craft your opening as a “hook.”

    Creativity is especially important in English analysis essays. Your instructor will assess not only your analytical skills; but also language, style, and ability to grab your reader’s attention. To impress your tutor right away, begin with a startling piece of background information, a meaningful and relevant quotation, a snatch of dialogue, or a vivid description of the setting.

  • Provide important background information in your introduction.

    After you have caught your readers’ attention, explain what exactly your essay will be about. Include the title and author of the literary work. Give a clear idea of the aspect you are going to discuss. Depending on your essay topic, it may also be useful to briefly describe the setting or provide an overview of the main characters.

  • Develop a relevant thesis statement.

    Your thesis statement should be the final sentence (or, occasionally, two sentences) of your first paragraph. A good thesis statement should relate to a major theme in a literary work, and explain how the author reveals this theme in a clear and specific way.

  • Build your body paragraphs around textual evidence.

    A general scheme for writing your body paragraphs is: topic sentence (make a point related to your major thesis) – textual evidence (provide a specific example from the text in support of your point) – commentary (explain and interpret your piece of evidence). You may use one or two pieces of textual evidence for one point, and either conclude with a wrap-up sentence or not.

  • Do not over-quote.

    In each body paragraph, you should have twice as much of your own words as you have textual evidence. In other words, for each cited sentence, write at least two sentences of commentaries.

  • Transit smoothly.

    Use transition words and phrases to link between ideas within a paragraph or across paragraphs: “Another example…,” “In contrast to…,” “Later in the story…,” etc.

  • Create a strong conclusion.

    Link back to your thesis statement without repeating it exactly. Next, make a comment on the story as a whole; determine how successful the author is in conveying the message, speculate on how the story could continue, or explain what lessons one can learn from this story.


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