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To answer the how, you must observe.
To answer the why, you must analyze.
If you can formulate a strong, focused thesis
statement, the rest of the essay will write
Not really—but it will be easier because “well
begun is half done.”
To take the different elements or components
and determine their purpose as part of a
To examine carefully and in detail so as to
identify authorial purpose
To determine the nature and relationship of
the elements of literature
Part to whole is an essential concern of
analysis: why and how does the author use
certain elements to create meaning
Your focus is the PROMPT
AP = Address the Prompt
Make sure you have a clear
understanding of what the prompt
asks before you plunge in; don’t twist
it to suit what you want to write about.
Too many great essays go down in
flames because the student simply did
not respond to the prompt.
Echo wording of the prompt without
parroting the prompt.
Include brief background of the
book/character, specifically parts of the
novel/play/poem which connect to the
Include a strong, clear thesis sentence.
Avoid lists: “The writer uses words
such ___, ___ and ____ to show ___.”
Avoid fluff. Your opinion on the Iraq
war and your unreasonable parents
have nothing to do with the task.
Avoid sweeping generalizations.
Avoid judgmental adjectives (this one
is worth repeating).
The organic approach means several things.
You develop a thesis AFTER you assemble
your evidence.
Your evidence leads to analysis and your
analysis leads to an arguable thesis.
Your argument develops organically: you
begin at the beginning and end at the end—
just like the author did!
This naturally leads to better coherence.
Examples from the book provide evidence
for your analysis.
Show, don’t tell, and
be sure you provide a clear explanation of
the evidence’s relevance to your analysis.
What is its significance to the work, your
thesis and the prompt?
When writing about literature, verb tense
should be PRESENT.
Why? Because every time one reads the
story/play/poem, the same actions take
place: Huckleberry takes to the river, Lear
dies, Dante descends into Hell.
Don’t use first person!
Why? We know it’s your opinion-you wrote it!
Choose a distinguished novel or play in which some of the
most significant events are mental or psychological; for
example, awakenings, discoveries, changes in consciousness.
In a well-organized essay, describe how the author manages
to give these internal events the sense of excitement,
suspense, and climax usually associated with external action.
Do not merely summarize the plot.
In Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, all of the
true excitement and climax happens within
the mind of Billy.
Thesis does not say why this is important.
A critic has said that one important measure of a superior work of literature I
its ability to produce in the reader a healthy confusion of pleasure and
disquietude. Select a literary work that produces this “healthy confusion.”
Write an essay in which you explain the sources of the “pleasure and
disquietude” experienced by readers of the work. Avoid plot summary.
A work of literature is only as interesting to the reader as its
ability to create a “healthy confusion.” A healthy confusion is
what makes the reader keep reading. In Joseph Heller’s Catch
22, Heller is able to create this confusion by creating humorous
yet illogical cases during the second half of WWII.
Life, as we know it, progresses in a linear time-table. There
is first the birth of life from a mother’s womb, then the growth
of the baby into a child, and continuing through time until the
death of the individual. This is not the case for Billy Pilgrim in
Slaughterhouse Five. Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time. The
concept of time being a linear progression does not apply to
Billy Pilgrim. As the novel unfolds, Billy is constantly traveling
back and forth through time. The abrupt and sudden changes
in the setting and time of life of Billy Pilgrim leaves readers
gasping for breath as they try to keep up with the time
traveling Billy. Through the extensive development of Billy
Pilgrim and his unique characteristic of time traveling, Kurt
Vonnegut produces a “healthy confusion” in readers who have
to determine for themselves how to view certain events in the
life of Billy Pilgrim through the ever-changing time lens.
Never Let Me Go, a novel written by Kazuro Ishiguro,
combines the unrealistic and futuristic storyline with
realistic features of human emotion. The concept of
human cloning has not developed into a reality, yet
Ishiguro uses present tense in the novel to bring a
closer feel to the readers. Such grammatical
elements and the show of realistic emotions allow
the unheard-of storyline to have a more plausible
feel that readers can connect with.
To produce “healthy confusion” on the reader’s
part is a challenge many novels seem to be
to take on. A multitude of novels have one
significant effect on their readers, be it
satisfaction, disappointment, confusion,
anxiety or any additional categories that come
to mine. Never Let Me Go, however, proves to
stand out of the spectrum with its puzzling
effects on the reader. The novel leaves one
neither upset nor elated, as its meaning is very
debatable and unique.