How to Write a Literary Analysis

What is a Literary Analysis

A literary analysis basically refers to an analysis of a work of literature. It attempts to evaluate, analyse and critique the work of an author. Thus, a literary analysis consists of descriptions, analysis, and evaluations of a work. A literary analysis can be done on any literary work – poem, short story, novel or drama. The main purpose of a literary analysis is to examine how and why a particular piece of literature was written. Having briefed about literary analysis, let’s now see how to write a literary analysis step by step.

How to Write a Literary Analysis

Read Carefully

The first thing to do before starting the literary analysis is reading the selected work carefully. Make notes and mark important places as you read. (Read how to comprehend what you read if you want more tips on how to read a text attentively.)

Break the Text into Different Elements

You can understand and appreciate the work of literature better if you break the work down into its component parts. Examining separate elements will give you an in-depth knowledge of the work.

Analyse the Characters

Analyse the characteristics and qualities of different characters and observe how they react to different situations. Is there any change in these characters at the end of the book? Try to analyse why these characters behave or act in the manner they do. Compare and contrast two or more characters. Pay special attention to the protagonist.

Analyse the Literary Devices

Identify the literary devices such as symbols, metaphors, imagery, repetition, personification, etc. in the work. Examine why these devices have been used and what are the effects created by them. 

Analyse the Plot

Plot is the series of events and happenings that make up of the story. Examine the relationship between events and try to identify the plot elements: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

Analyse the Setting

Identify the location and the time period in the work and analyse the effect of this setting on the events and the characters of the story. Is there any particular reason to choose this setting? The setting does not have to be analysed separately if you have looked at it in the plot analysis or character analysis.

Analyse the Style and Language

Consider what kind of language has been used by the author. Does he use different diction types for different characters? What type of language does the narrator use? Is it different from the language used by other characters? Identify the narrative style used in the work.

Analysis of Theme

Use the above elements to identify the theme. What is the main message the author has conveyed to the readers? Is this message applicable to other contexts?

How to Write a Literary Analysis

Combine all the Elements

Analysing different elements is a process that helps you to understand and appreciate the work of literature as a whole. Now that you have a good understanding of the different components of the work, you can combine them together to analyse the text. Ask questions like,

How does a certain event changes a character?

How effective were the literary devices? Why has the author used these devices?

What is the lesson the character learned at the end?

What does the author different language styles for different characters?

Are the characters portrayed realistically? Do they react to events realistically? Do the characters match the setting?

 How do these elements combine together to form a successful work of fiction?


A literary analysis should always contain a detailed analysis of a work of literature. It describes, analyzes, evaluates and criticizes a work. Although a literary analysis should evaluate different components of a work, the writer must also use his knowledge on these different components to analyse how they interact with and influence each other to better understand and appreciate the work of literature.

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.