Literary Analysis


Read Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” (prose). The essay should be 3 pages and follow MLA formatting rules.
An analysis essay looks not at the entire work but rather at how the author has used one of several elements to create meaning. In other words, an analysis usually, but not necessarily, examines only a single element–such as plot, character, point of view, symbol, tone, or irony when examining a work of prose or rhyme, meter, organization, sound, irony, and figurative language when examining a poetic work–and relates it to the entire work, particularly the work’s overall theme or meaning. A literary analysis reveals how one or more of the aformentioned literary elements contribute to an understanding of the theme of the work or prose or poem. An analytical topic separates the work into parts and focuses on a specific one. Regardless, the specific element or elements must be related to the work as a whole, or it will appear irrelevant. Only those elements that are relevant to the work’s overall theme can be treated. This kind of focusing makes the topic manageable; this is why most papers that you write in the humanities will probably be some form of analysis. Because analysis allows you to consider the central effect or meaning of an entire work by studying a single or several important elements, it is a useful and common approach to longer works.
Two basic methods of organizing the body of this essay work well and can be easily modified to suit the purpose of the paper: One-Element Organization; here, the writer discusses the ways in which one important element or technique is used to develop the work’s overall theme. Several-Elements Organization; here, the writer discusses several elements or techniques that the author uses to develop the work’s overall theme. The introduction to the essay can simply include providing some background on the author/poet and the actual work, such as when it was published and its importance to the literary community. Here, you might also identify the work’s overall theme or themes. Of course, I expect you to have a thesis at the end of the introduction that identifies what literary elements you wish to examine. For example, “Raymond Carver uses irony, diction and metaphor to explore the theme of dehumanization in his short story “Popular Mechanics.” From here, I would expect you to have three sections in the essay devoted to each element and to demonstrate specifically how Carver uses those elements to suggest his overall meaning/theme in the work. The conclusion is a mere summary of your analysis.

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