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- How to write a literary analysis essay | A step-by-step guide
How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay | A Step-by-Step Guide
Published on January 30, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 14, 2023.
Literary analysis means closely studying a text, interpreting its meanings, and exploring why the author made certain choices. It can be applied to novels, short stories, plays, poems, or any other form of literary writing.
A literary analysis essay is not a rhetorical analysis , nor is it just a summary of the plot or a book review. Instead, it is a type of argumentative essay where you need to analyze elements such as the language, perspective, and structure of the text, and explain how the author uses literary devices to create effects and convey ideas.
Before beginning a literary analysis essay, it’s essential to carefully read the text and c ome up with a thesis statement to keep your essay focused. As you write, follow the standard structure of an academic essay :
- An introduction that tells the reader what your essay will focus on.
- A main body, divided into paragraphs , that builds an argument using evidence from the text.
- A conclusion that clearly states the main point that you have shown with your analysis.
Table of contents
Step 1: reading the text and identifying literary devices, step 2: coming up with a thesis, step 3: writing a title and introduction, step 4: writing the body of the essay, step 5: writing a conclusion, other interesting articles.
The first step is to carefully read the text(s) and take initial notes. As you read, pay attention to the things that are most intriguing, surprising, or even confusing in the writing—these are things you can dig into in your analysis.
Your goal in literary analysis is not simply to explain the events described in the text, but to analyze the writing itself and discuss how the text works on a deeper level. Primarily, you’re looking out for literary devices —textual elements that writers use to convey meaning and create effects. If you’re comparing and contrasting multiple texts, you can also look for connections between different texts.
To get started with your analysis, there are several key areas that you can focus on. As you analyze each aspect of the text, try to think about how they all relate to each other. You can use highlights or notes to keep track of important passages and quotes.
Consider what style of language the author uses. Are the sentences short and simple or more complex and poetic?
What word choices stand out as interesting or unusual? Are words used figuratively to mean something other than their literal definition? Figurative language includes things like metaphor (e.g. “her eyes were oceans”) and simile (e.g. “her eyes were like oceans”).
Also keep an eye out for imagery in the text—recurring images that create a certain atmosphere or symbolize something important. Remember that language is used in literary texts to say more than it means on the surface.
- Who is telling the story?
- How are they telling it?
Is it a first-person narrator (“I”) who is personally involved in the story, or a third-person narrator who tells us about the characters from a distance?
Consider the narrator’s perspective . Is the narrator omniscient (where they know everything about all the characters and events), or do they only have partial knowledge? Are they an unreliable narrator who we are not supposed to take at face value? Authors often hint that their narrator might be giving us a distorted or dishonest version of events.
The tone of the text is also worth considering. Is the story intended to be comic, tragic, or something else? Are usually serious topics treated as funny, or vice versa ? Is the story realistic or fantastical (or somewhere in between)?
Consider how the text is structured, and how the structure relates to the story being told.
- Novels are often divided into chapters and parts.
- Poems are divided into lines, stanzas, and sometime cantos.
- Plays are divided into scenes and acts.
Think about why the author chose to divide the different parts of the text in the way they did.
There are also less formal structural elements to take into account. Does the story unfold in chronological order, or does it jump back and forth in time? Does it begin in medias res —in the middle of the action? Does the plot advance towards a clearly defined climax?
With poetry, consider how the rhyme and meter shape your understanding of the text and your impression of the tone. Try reading the poem aloud to get a sense of this.
In a play, you might consider how relationships between characters are built up through different scenes, and how the setting relates to the action. Watch out for dramatic irony , where the audience knows some detail that the characters don’t, creating a double meaning in their words, thoughts, or actions.
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Your thesis in a literary analysis essay is the point you want to make about the text. It’s the core argument that gives your essay direction and prevents it from just being a collection of random observations about a text.
If you’re given a prompt for your essay, your thesis must answer or relate to the prompt. For example:
Essay question example
Is Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” a religious parable?
Your thesis statement should be an answer to this question—not a simple yes or no, but a statement of why this is or isn’t the case:
Thesis statement example
Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” is not a religious parable, but a story about bureaucratic alienation.
Sometimes you’ll be given freedom to choose your own topic; in this case, you’ll have to come up with an original thesis. Consider what stood out to you in the text; ask yourself questions about the elements that interested you, and consider how you might answer them.
Your thesis should be something arguable—that is, something that you think is true about the text, but which is not a simple matter of fact. It must be complex enough to develop through evidence and arguments across the course of your essay.
Say you’re analyzing the novel Frankenstein . You could start by asking yourself:
Your initial answer might be a surface-level description:
The character Frankenstein is portrayed negatively in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .
However, this statement is too simple to be an interesting thesis. After reading the text and analyzing its narrative voice and structure, you can develop the answer into a more nuanced and arguable thesis statement:
Mary Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.
Remember that you can revise your thesis statement throughout the writing process , so it doesn’t need to be perfectly formulated at this stage. The aim is to keep you focused as you analyze the text.
Finding textual evidence
To support your thesis statement, your essay will build an argument using textual evidence —specific parts of the text that demonstrate your point. This evidence is quoted and analyzed throughout your essay to explain your argument to the reader.
It can be useful to comb through the text in search of relevant quotations before you start writing. You might not end up using everything you find, and you may have to return to the text for more evidence as you write, but collecting textual evidence from the beginning will help you to structure your arguments and assess whether they’re convincing.
To start your literary analysis paper, you’ll need two things: a good title, and an introduction.
Your title should clearly indicate what your analysis will focus on. It usually contains the name of the author and text(s) you’re analyzing. Keep it as concise and engaging as possible.
A common approach to the title is to use a relevant quote from the text, followed by a colon and then the rest of your title.
If you struggle to come up with a good title at first, don’t worry—this will be easier once you’ve begun writing the essay and have a better sense of your arguments.
“Fearful symmetry” : The violence of creation in William Blake’s “The Tyger”
The essay introduction provides a quick overview of where your argument is going. It should include your thesis statement and a summary of the essay’s structure.
A typical structure for an introduction is to begin with a general statement about the text and author, using this to lead into your thesis statement. You might refer to a commonly held idea about the text and show how your thesis will contradict it, or zoom in on a particular device you intend to focus on.
Then you can end with a brief indication of what’s coming up in the main body of the essay. This is called signposting. It will be more elaborate in longer essays, but in a short five-paragraph essay structure, it shouldn’t be more than one sentence.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.
Some students prefer to write the introduction later in the process, and it’s not a bad idea. After all, you’ll have a clearer idea of the overall shape of your arguments once you’ve begun writing them!
If you do write the introduction first, you should still return to it later to make sure it lines up with what you ended up writing, and edit as necessary.
The body of your essay is everything between the introduction and conclusion. It contains your arguments and the textual evidence that supports them.
A typical structure for a high school literary analysis essay consists of five paragraphs : the three paragraphs of the body, plus the introduction and conclusion.
Each paragraph in the main body should focus on one topic. In the five-paragraph model, try to divide your argument into three main areas of analysis, all linked to your thesis. Don’t try to include everything you can think of to say about the text—only analysis that drives your argument.
In longer essays, the same principle applies on a broader scale. For example, you might have two or three sections in your main body, each with multiple paragraphs. Within these sections, you still want to begin new paragraphs at logical moments—a turn in the argument or the introduction of a new idea.
Robert’s first encounter with Gil-Martin suggests something of his sinister power. Robert feels “a sort of invisible power that drew me towards him.” He identifies the moment of their meeting as “the beginning of a series of adventures which has puzzled myself, and will puzzle the world when I am no more in it” (p. 89). Gil-Martin’s “invisible power” seems to be at work even at this distance from the moment described; before continuing the story, Robert feels compelled to anticipate at length what readers will make of his narrative after his approaching death. With this interjection, Hogg emphasizes the fatal influence Gil-Martin exercises from his first appearance.
To keep your points focused, it’s important to use a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph.
A good topic sentence allows a reader to see at a glance what the paragraph is about. It can introduce a new line of argument and connect or contrast it with the previous paragraph. Transition words like “however” or “moreover” are useful for creating smooth transitions:
… The story’s focus, therefore, is not upon the divine revelation that may be waiting beyond the door, but upon the mundane process of aging undergone by the man as he waits.
Nevertheless, the “radiance” that appears to stream from the door is typically treated as religious symbolism.
This topic sentence signals that the paragraph will address the question of religious symbolism, while the linking word “nevertheless” points out a contrast with the previous paragraph’s conclusion.
Using textual evidence
A key part of literary analysis is backing up your arguments with relevant evidence from the text. This involves introducing quotes from the text and explaining their significance to your point.
It’s important to contextualize quotes and explain why you’re using them; they should be properly introduced and analyzed, not treated as self-explanatory:
It isn’t always necessary to use a quote. Quoting is useful when you’re discussing the author’s language, but sometimes you’ll have to refer to plot points or structural elements that can’t be captured in a short quote.
In these cases, it’s more appropriate to paraphrase or summarize parts of the text—that is, to describe the relevant part in your own words:
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The conclusion of your analysis shouldn’t introduce any new quotations or arguments. Instead, it’s about wrapping up the essay. Here, you summarize your key points and try to emphasize their significance to the reader.
A good way to approach this is to briefly summarize your key arguments, and then stress the conclusion they’ve led you to, highlighting the new perspective your thesis provides on the text as a whole:
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By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.
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How College Students Can Use Literary Devices to Improve their Essay Writing
Table of contents
“ If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then to me.” — Macbeth , William Shakespeare
Mind-blowing, isn’t it?
But do you realize what made this sentence so “mind-blowing”? The strategic use of metaphor.
We have always wondered how certain writers manage to leave us in awe and inspired. You might think you can’t achieve it, but with the proper techniques and practice, it isn’t.
While many elements make up powerful writing, one of the techniques is literary devices. What are literary devices, you ask?
They are tools writers use to heighten their narrative and evoke emotions to convey their message. Instead of simply stating things for what they are, literary devices manage to bring writing to life and leave a more substantial impact on readers, especially in the case of creative writing assignments.
How You Can Use Literary Devices to Write an Essay
Being a college student, you are bound to be bombarded with several writing assignments. Whether it’s a narrative essay, book critique, or personal statement, knowing how to inject literary devices into your writing can make a huge difference.
More than getting the grades you want, it’s about embracing the art of storytelling and making efforts to ‘wow’ your instructors.
You can be lazy and churn out the same old essay.
Or you can take the use of literary devices and your writing to the next level.
The choice is yours.
Decided to go with the latter? Good. Here’s everything you need to know about using literary devices to improve your essay-writing skills.
How do Literary Devices Improve College Essay Writing?
Literary devices, if used smartly, can take your writing from ‘meh’ to ‘wow.’ Here’s how they enhance your writing and take it to the next level.
What is this ‘depth,’ you might wonder ? Well, ‘depth’ is what hooks readers and keeps them invested in your writing. It is that ‘oomph’ factor that makes your essay riveting.
When you use literary devices to put your message across, you can make people ponder about the setting you create, the characters you develop, or the situations you describe. Well-placed literary devices have the power to heighten your writing which would have otherwise been flat and dull.
Paint a Picture
You’ve heard of the age-old writing advice, “Show, Don’t Tell”, haven’t you? It encourages writers to write vividly and paint a picture in the minds of readers which is way more powerful than a thousand words.
Using literary devices can help you achieve that because you let readers visualize what you’re trying to say, leaving a more significant impact in their minds.
Want to know more about writing descriptively?
Watch this video by Darin Mount , wherein he throws more light on this subject
Evoke Emotional Response
We can all agree that the best writing connects with the reader and evokes an emotional response. Whether it’s sadness, joy, anger, or disdain - using literary devices to make readers feel what you want them to feel is always a winner.
Make it Interesting
Last but not least, literary devices make the piece more pleasurable to read.
No one likes boring essays. You must constantly innovate and think of new, creative ways to add life to your writing. Whether you want to add humor, drama, or just pace your essay - the use of the proper devices can do this for you.
10 Types of Literary Devices You Can Use in Your Essay
There is a laundry list of literary devices but let’s look at the best literary devices ones you should know about:
One of the most common literary devices, metaphors, is used across essays, books, songs, poems, and speeches. They are used to compare two completely unrelated objects. The idea is to provide a more robust description such that the reader interprets it better.
E.g., All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players.
Here, Shakespeare is comparing the world to the stage and implying that we are all actors enacting different scenes.
The problem with metaphors is that there are so many of them doing the rounds that using the common ones, such as “It is raining cats and dogs” or “Life is a rollercoaster,” among many others, don’t have the impact they should.
Hence, before inserting a metaphor, ensure it’s unique and not overused for it to be truly effective.
Similes and metaphors are not the same. Even though similes compare two different objects, they use the words ‘as’ or ‘like’, making explicit comparisons, unlike metaphors.
Using similes makes writing more interesting and descriptive. Coming up with new similes gets you to push your creative boundaries.
E.g., Fit as a fiddle, Brave as a lion, Slept like a log, etc.
As the name suggests, symbolism is when you give a different meaning to an object/subject/action to represent a more extensive concept for readers to understand it at a deeper level. Unlike metaphors and similes, symbolism is a more subtle form of comparison.
Using symbolism is almost like making your writing poetic. Instead of explicitly stating the obvious, you can use symbolism to let readers interpret it and think deeper.
E.g., The works of women are symbolic.
We sew, sew, prick our fingers, dull our sight,
Producing what? A pair of slippers, sir,
To put on when you're weary.
These lines are from Elizabeth Barret Browning’s Aurora Leigh, wherein she compares women to ‘slippers’ that one only turns to when tired, implying how undervalued women are.
Alliteration means “letter of the alphabet” and refers to using words that begin with the letters of the same sound group in quick succession. They also refer to using words that start with the same letter.
Alliterations are generally used to draw attention and make something pleasurable to read. You can also use alliteration to name a character or place.
E.g., Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers.
They all begin with the letter ‘p.’
Sally ate salmon on Sunday.
Even though ‘Sally,’ ‘salmon,’ and ‘Sunday’ begin with ‘s,’ this is not considered an alliteration because none of the words have a similar sound.
“Oh, the irony!” - you must have encountered this phase several times. So, what does irony mean? It is used to highlight situations wherein something is very different from what it seems to be. Irony can be used to inject humor or to add a profound meaning.
Broadly, ironies are divided into - verbal irony, situational irony, and dramatic irony.
Verbal irony is when the speaker says something that is the opposite of what he/she actually means. “Isn’t that sarcasm?” many might wonder.
Video by Christopher Warner explaining the difference between the two
Situational irony is when the outcome of a situation is very different from what was expected. Dramatic irony is when the character’s understanding of a situation is different from the audience’s.
E.g. Brutus says he is ambitious, And Brutus is an honorable man.
These lines are said by Mark Antony in Julius Caesar wherein he seems to be praising Brutus but actually isn’t.
Think exaggeration. Yes, that is what hyperboles are.
Hyperboles are when you use words or phrases to make something grander or give it a larger-than-life effect. Sometimes exaggerating or using hyperbole is an effective way to convey the message powerfully or lay emphasis on a particular situation. They are purely used for effect and are not meant to be taken literally.
E.g. I was helpless. I did not know what in the world to do. I was quaking from head to foot and could have hung my hat on my eyes, and they stuck out so far.
These lines are from Mark Twain’s Old Times on the Mississippi. The hyperbole here is “hung my hat on my eyes. They stuck out so far”. The writer only uses this sentence to emphasize how helpless he was - in reality, his eyes were not sticking out.
Personification is when you give human characteristics and feelings to inanimate objects, animals, or nature. It gives your writing a dramatic effect and lets your readers relate more easily to the situation or object. Personification is also a powerful storytelling tool to create vivid imagery in the minds of readers.
E.g., Her heart was divided between concern for her sister and resentment against all the others.
Here Jane Austen writes about how the character’s (Elizabeth) ‘heart’ was divided between concern and resentment. It is a way of signifying how Elizabeth herself was torn between these two emotions.
An oxymoron refers to a pair of words that are contradictory or opposing. It is used to focus on the multiple meanings an object might have. It makes descriptions more effective while making the reader understand the intensity of the situation or character.
E.g., All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
George Orwell writes this line in Animal Farm to explain the prevalent hypocrisies. The fact that “some animals are more equal than others” negates the former part of the sentence, thereby demonstrating a paradoxical situation.
Words and phrases used to create a graphic, mental images are referred to as imagery in the readers' minds. You can use imagery to describe a character, weather, place, event, or emotion.
It is not just limited to the visual senses but also includes any description that appeals to all the other senses, like taste, smell, touch, and hearing.
E.g., Mr. Jaggers's room was lighted by a skylight only and was a most dismal place; the skylight, eccentrically patched like a broken head . . . there were some odd objects that I should not have expected to see--such as an old rusty pistol, a sword in a scabbard, several strange-looking boxes and packages, and two dreadful casts on a shelf, of faces peculiarly swollen, and twitchy about the nose.
This is an excerpt from Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations wherein Pip is describing Mr. Jaggers’ room and reading this. We can almost visualize and get a sense of what it would look like.
Now, here’s an interesting one - onomatopoeia refers to sound words that are spelled the way their sounds sound. They let the reader hear the sound being written about, engrossing them in the situation or world created in the writing. It’s a simple yet powerful way to emphasize a sound.
Eg.: Hark, hark!
The watch-dogs bark!
Hark, hark! I hear.
These lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest use onomatopoeia to emphasize on the dogs barking, making us visualize sounds.
Please don’t get overwhelmed by the number of literary devices and be pressured to memorize them or even use all of them in your college essays, for that matter.
While there is no rule for the number of literary devices you can use, what’s important is to maintain a healthy balance and use this tool sparingly. It would be best to use literary devices that can genuinely add value, enhance your description and engage readers .
If you need help writing an interesting essay for college or want your essay to be polished further, we at Writers Per Hour can help.
Our professional team of essay writers knows precisely where and how to use literary devices in college essays. You can receive superior-quality, 100% original, custom-written essays to meet your needs when you work with us. So, contact us today, and let us come to your rescue!
Last edit at Jul 27 2023
Stefani is a professional writer and blogger at Writers Per Hour . She primarily contributes articles about careers, leadership, business, and writing. Her educational background in family science and journalism has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics. She especially enjoys preparing resumes for individuals who are changing careers.
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Literature and Its Different Elements
“Literature is a reflection of the society” (Elements of literature, 2009). Literature is the representation of an individual, their language and culture. It reflects society in the framework of occasions, traditions, background, thoughts, and beliefs of that time. Literature helps the reader to understand about the experience by narrating the images of the neighborhood and by this the reader will have a good judgment about the individual and society. Writers make use of their art through words in order to reveal everything which they see around them. Through their powerful language they are able to make the readers feel about the cheerfulness, distress and the life experience of the society. Most of the writers in their literary works show the story of humanity. Through various literary elements writer makes feelings, emotions towards the reader. There are many types of literary works like drama, poetry, novel, short story etc. The literary man uses different kinds of literary elements in different kinds of work. In a drama he uses the literary elements like plot, character, settings and so on and in poetry he uses style, theme etc.
“The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara is a story in which the writer approaches colloquially in order to give a brief account to the readers about the style of languages which the African –American community used in late 1960’s.” Toni Cade Bambera’s ‘The Lesson’ demonstrates the impact of socioeconomic class distinctions on childhood perception and development.” (Essays about lesson Toni, 2009). It also reveals the two kinds of constitutions that prevailed in US society connected with the blacks and whites as well as rich and poor. The main character named, Sylvia is a very poor African-American girl who with her friends goes out for a shopping and she finds it difficult to buy the toys which she liked and at the same time, the rich people spends money to buy whatever they see in the shop. Sylvia understands the painful reality that, this world is meant for the whites and the wealthy people. And she happens to know more about this from her neighbor Miss Moore. Even though the story begins by the miserable conditions which the colored and poor people face in the society: at the end there arises logic of optimism as the little girl with a firm mind rises above from her present situation. So, one can say that more than cultural and economic inequality, this story gives an example about life and how one can study its value. Here, in the short story the writer uses a different style of language in order to make the readers know that different kinds of culture and people exist in this society.
“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner is an example of a short story which shows how literature reflects community and the writer uses this short story to concentrate on the theme of alteration and development as it is associated to the American South. The story is about Emily Grierson an alienated bachelor living in South in the later ninetieth or early twentieth century. Thus, the work reflects the community in the context of time especially the later ninetieth or early twentieth century life and situations of people. In the story one can see the pathetic condition of the South due to the industrial revolution as the industry and custom tries to coexist in Emily’s little town. There arise signs of industrial growths especially cotton gins and on the other side Emily’s house is haunting the unattractiveness and perished beauty. Thus, the story describes the earlier glorious days with loftier aspirations and pride. Miss Emily is by no means a typical Gothic woman who is a victim of her society and circumstances and thereby isolated amongst the constantly altering world of south.
In this story the attitudes and beliefs of people in the later ninetieth and early twentieth century can be seen very clearly through the characters and their actions. The people with aristocratic birth maintained to behave as land possessors even though they lost all of them. This attitude can be seen in the character of Miss Emily as she behaves arrogantly towards others under the privilege of aristocratic birth and past glory. Men of the old South like Colonel Sartoris and Judge Stevens governed under the code of chivalry and are protective of white women and in this view Sartoris is incapable to allow the tax collector to tax the poor bachelor and Stevens not capable to confront Emily to the smell from her house. The change occurs when the new generation came as they are not ready to accept the old-fashioned social traditions of their forefathers. The man collects the taxes of Emily not in the way of his grandfather’s convention as she is an annoyance to the progress in the eyes of the new generation. Thus, Faulkner was very successful in depicting the conflict between ninetieth and twentieth century southern society through this story. The issues in the story are the representative of American South’s incapability to progress along with the industrialized North after the Civil War. Though Emily behaved arrogantly towards the people and kept a staunch individualism, the people loved her which is revealed through their presence at the time of her death. “A sort of hereditary obligation up on town, the people came to the funeral as a respectful affection for a fallen monument.” (Faulkner & Robinette, 1983, p.5, para.5). This shows the reader about the time, belief and attitudes of people in the South.
Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” gives a detailed description of an ordinary man who happened to be the bread winner of the family, later with troubled mind turns mad or sick, and also the society’s attitude towards the sick or broken people. In this book, Gregor Samsa is the living symbol of the broken or sick people who worked only for his family, and who unfortunately turned into a broken man and later isolated by his family and society. “Gregor provides for his family in the same way as an insect would provide for its nest or hive.” (Fitzgerald). He worked hard to help his family and often provided everything they needed. The realization that his life is like an insect turned him to a broken man; soon he lost his job and later became a burden to his family and society.
This is the situation everybody faces in the society as nowadays society is indifferent to the feelings and situations of other individuals. Often the sick or broken people become a burden to the society, as the people in the society have no time and patience to bother about them. Like Gregor, people work for their family and relatives without considering their own life and time. The realization of their buggy life makes them sick and later they happen to be a burden to their family and society. When he became sick his family was not bothered for him but they were in a hurry to get job. At first, Grete Samsa showed some concern but later she too was fed up with him. And he was a problem even for the lodgers. People sacrifice themselves for their family but later become isolated from the same family for whom they worked hard.
The story is impressive as it depicts the vital situation of the transformation of a man into an insect, and lying on his back, helplessly waves his little insect legs in the air. (The metamorphosis and Summary & Study Guide). The lack of loyalty, concern and understanding often lead people in an isolated condition and this makes them sick and disordered. Society or people never show any consideration to those people, who suffer from great diseases, or old people, or drug addicts or homeless. Society never helps them but ill-treat them rudely without any mercy.
Thus, one can conclude that literature reflects individual as well as community to a great extent and whole culture influences each other. The three literary works ‘The Lesson’, ‘A Rose for Emily’ and ‘Metamorphosis’ which are cited here are the best examples to prove the thesis, literature reflects both individual and community.
The term elements of literature give number of ideas about plot, structure, characterization, language, and diction of a particular piece of literature. Poetry is considered as the widely accepted genre of literature. Analyzing the use of literary devises and language, one can see that poetry constitutes more complex stature than other forms of literature. Poems like Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”, “My Papa’s Waltz,” by Theodore Roethke, and the “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin discuss the very theme internal struggle and meditation. Frost’s poem is all about his inner conflicts and confused status of his mind in selecting the profession. This poem is especially notable for the presentation of the theme and it puzzles an ordinary reader. There is possibility for the reader to misinterpret the poem as it deals with two roads diverging in the yellow wood. But to a deeper level, the readers can go through the inner conflicts of the poet when he narrates his own autobiographical element with imaginative coloring. An episode from the life of the poet has portrayed well in the poem, especially when the poet was in the confusion of selecting his career.
He portrays the two roads which symbolize the two professions, namely, the profession of a teacher and the profession of a poet. The main feature of the poem that differentiates it from other poems is its inner meaning. Poet’s fascination to nature, like Wordsworth, is identifiable with the poem, particularly when singing about the beauty of the two roads. Trees, mountains, rivers, and so on, always attracted the attention of the poet and he tried to expose their acute beauty.
The poem stands as a best element of literature which is filled with different poetical devices and symbolism. Frost uses the wood as a symbol of poet’s life and the two roads are two professions; so the wood and roads have enough relevance in the life of the poet too. The poet has strong reasons for selecting the road that best suits (as he thinks) for his life.
In the poem, ‘My Papa’s Waltz’, one can find the same element – conflict has been well presented. It sings about some serious conflicts between an alcoholic father and his son. Here the poet has proved his ability in portraying and studying the inner conflicts of the father and the son. There are different lines in the poem that deal with the close attachment between the father and son. The father’s mind is filled with the complexes of his social and economic status. In the case of the boy, he suffered with the conflict that his affection towards father and the mischievousness of his father’s behavior. When dealing with the problem /conflict of the boy, poet writes:
“You beat time on my head With a palm caked hard by dirt, Then waltzed me off to bed Still clinging to your shirt.” (Burke, 2009, para.4).
The anxiety of the child at the beating of his father is evident at the beginning of the poem. Anyway, the boy trusts his father too much and relies upon him. Different writers abuse the alcoholic father and his inner conflicts show some resemblances to the character of Joe Keller in Miller’s play, ‘All My Sons’. According to them, both the pieces of literature portray the conflicts of American middle class society. One of the notable themes in the poem, “My Papa’s Waltz” is the abuse of childhood. In this poem also, one sees man appearing as characters rather than that of other elements.
‘The Story of an Hour’, by Kate Chopin is a well read story that affected the feelings of the readers. Natalia Dagenhart remarks; “Although the story is really short, it is very rich and complete, and every word in it carries deep sense and a lot of meaning. “ (Dagenhart, 2009, para.2). The story colorfully discusses the story of Mrs. Mallard who enjoys an elegant life, though readers are capable of recognizing it at the beginning. Readers meet Mallard as a diseased person. Evaluating this story one sees the fact that it is also a story in which the poetical devices play their vital role in forming the theme and treatment.
The world is filled with different culture. These different cultural frameworks make the literary work a different one. A literary work gives a real picture of human life. Even different literary works like drama, poetry, and novel take hold of the real social life and their culture. So literature is important in many aspects and no one can disregard it as it is the reflection of life itself.
Lorraine Hansberry ‘s play “A Raisin in the Sun” tells about the colored people in US. This play is about the African –Americans and their dream to live in this land by enjoying full freedom without concerning their color. Many problems which the human folks faced in 1950’s were discussed in this play. “However, a central theme of A Raisin in the Sun reveals how racism from the housing industry, government, religious leaders, and average Americans supported the segregated housing environment of Chicago.” (Colas, n.d., para.2). The blacks suffered a lot in Chicago and they lived in ghettos which were overcrowded. Here in this work she tells about the agony of the black community and also includes her own life experience. The play “A Raisin in the Sun” discusses about a black family in Chicago who is combating in opposition to color prejudice and dreaming to live like the whites live. The Younger’s family lives in a bad apartment where they have to share their bathroom with the other families who were living near by. So they wish to live in a better place where they want white neighbors. Mama is the one who wishes a lot to move from that apartment. The five members including the little one Travis are facing a lot of problem because of restrictions in every level but each of them has their own dreams.
Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” tells the story of a woman where men treated women badly. In the first half of the play she had been like a doll in her husband’s hand. She had no freedom to do any thing of her own and Helmer always called her a spendthrift. But at last she responded by leaving the house.
“M. Butterfly” is one of the most famous novels by David Henry Hwang, which powerfully gained people’s attention or admiration because the entire drama is told in a humorous way. It is a work of unrivaled brilliance, revealing the serious disagreement between men and women, the dispute between East and West, ethnic stereotypes and the shade around our belief. The drama is based on true story, which is very impressive to humanity.’ M.Butterfly’ tells about the relationship between Rene Gallimard, a French diplomat and Song Liling, a Chinese opera star without being fully aware of the fact that his ‘perfect woman’ was actually a man. The play starts in jail at which Rene Gallimard is imprisoned by French government because he passes sensitive secrets through his lover. According to him, his lover was an ideal woman, he never thought that his lover was a spy of Chinese government and a man masked as a woman. In a sequence of past memories, Rene Gallimard realizes that their affection finally consume them both. But at last only the truth remains. Even though Gallimard’s emotions will truly affect the vital emotions of his life. But only in the real life, the love turns out to be illusory. And only through such type of drama we can realize that how the fantasy can become a man’s mistress as well as his jailer (M. Butterfly, 2006).
To conclude, one can infer that literature is the miniature form of human life which can discuss almost all the aspects of human life. It can copy important and unimportant aspects of society including occasions, traditions, background, thoughts, and beliefs of that time. It is well evident with the literatures discussed above. An evaluation of it clearly identifies the fact that literature reflects both individual and society. Reading through the stories, and poems, one can see individuals appearing and sharing their feelings and emotions with the readers. In the poem, “The Road not Taken,” Robert Frost portrays himself and reveals his pathetic state. The poem moves through Frost’s desires and expectations of his future. The other poem, “My Papa’s Waltz” is also noted for the presentation of individual characters and their mannerisms. The plays “Raisin in the Sun”, “The Doll’s House” and “M.Buterfly” also give the picture of the real society and their attitudes. Thus, one can assume the presentation of individual and society in literature.
Burke, J. (2009). “My papa’s Waltz,” by Theodore Roethke. The English Companion Ning: Where English Teachers Meet To Help Each Other.Web.
Colas, B. (n.d.). Lorraine Hansberry. A raisin in the sun the ghetto trap . Amazon.co.uk.
Dagenhart, N. (2009). Literary analysis: The story of an hour, by Kate Chopin . Helium.Web.
Elements of literature . (2009). Buzzle.com. Web.
Essays about lesson Toni: Toni Cade Bamberas the lesson . (2009). Mega Essays.com. Web.
Faulkner, W., & Robinette, J. (1983). A Rose for Emily . Dramatic Publishing.
M. Butterfly . (2006). World Drama.
Tony Cade BamberaÆs the lesson: This is an excerpt from the paper . (2009). Lots of Essays.com.
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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 6). Literature and Its Different Elements. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/literature-and-its-different-elements/
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