The Answer To A Popular Request: Define Analytical Essay
Analytical essays are most often assigned in English and literature courses. If you have never written such an essay before, you may be confused about what you have to do. The definition and tips below were designed to help you.
What Is an Analytical Essay?
An analytical essay is one that explores a particular issue or idea. For a literary analysis essay, you should examine the way in which a specific idea is developed within a literary work.
The subject of an analytical essay is often a work of fiction, but it may also be a work of art, a historical event, or a research study. An example of a common analytical essay topic is “explore the concept of selflessness in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.”
An analytical essay should answer the question “how?” rather than “what?” A wrong question to answer in your essay is “what good features does a book character have?” The right question is “How do we know that the character has these good features?” Use examples from the text to support your opinion. For example, “it appears that Belle is kind because she sacrificed a large amount of money for a hospital.”
Pitfalls to Avoid
- Do not simply summarize events.
- Do not lay out your personal opinion only.
- Do not stick to what you think is “right.”
If you find yourself “retelling the story,” you are going about it the wrong way. Do not tell your readers what has happened; tell what it means. Don’t write “Grendel wanted to lure Beowulf away and kill him,” but rather “Grendel’s revenge went beyond what was considered rightful in the medieval era; instead of simply killing Aeschere and hence enacting the “tit for tat” vengeance, she attempted to kill Beowulf as well.”
An analytic essay should be based on your personal engagement with the subject, but you should follow the general rules of logic to make a valid argument. Your readers do not simply want to know how you interpret the meaning of this literary work, but also why you think so. Use specific examples and quotations to prove your argument. For example, “The feeling of misery and irreparable loss in The Raven is strengthened by repeating ‘Nevermore’ and ‘nothing more’ at the end of every strophe.”
You do not have to only be positive about this work or think the same as your teacher. Feel free to make any claims, as long as you can prove them. An original and well-grounded point can win you a higher mark.