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Remember, you’re looking for something you can prove or argue based on evidence you find in the text.Finally, remember to keep the scope of your question in mind: is this a topic you can adequately address within the word or page limit you’ve been given?A literary essay also isn’t like the kind of book report you wrote when you were younger, where your teacher wanted you to summarize the book’s action.
You can help direct your reading and brainstorming by formulating your topic as a question, which you’ll then try to answer in your essay.
The best questions invite critical debates and discussions, not just a rehashing of the summary.
A thesis is a claim about a work of literature that needs to be supported by evidence and arguments.
The thesis statement is the heart of the literary essay, and the bulk of your paper will be spent trying to prove this claim.
These are the whats of the work—what happens, where it happens, and to whom it happens.
When you’ve examined all the evidence you’ve collected and know how you want to answer the question, it’s time to write your thesis statement.
When you read a work of literature in an English class, however, you’re being asked to read in a special way: you’re being asked to perform literary analysis.
To analyze something means to break it down into smaller parts and then examine how those parts work, both individually and together.
If you can find a way to explain a work’s contradictory elements, you’ve got the seeds of a great essay.
At this point, you don’t need to know exactly what you’re going to say about your topic; you just need a place to begin your exploration.