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  • Literary Analysis Essay - Close Reading
  • The Writing Process
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  • Rhetorical Modes as Types of Essays
  • Stylistic Considerations
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The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to carefully examine and sometimes evaluate a work of literature or an aspect of a work of literature. Examining the different elements of a pieces of literature including plot, character, setting, point of view, irony, symbolism, and style to see how the author develops theme is not an end in itself but rather a process to help you better appreciate and understand the work of literature as a whole. The focus of a literary analysis essay is as expansive as the writers’ interests. For example, a short story analysis might include identifying a particular theme and then showing how the writer suggests that theme through the point of view of the story. It is important to remember that literary analysis does not merely demonstrate a particularly literary element. The focus is explaining how that element is meaningful or significant to the work as a whole. See Essay Organization. 

Close Reading

Close reading is deep analysis of how a literary text function; it is both a reading process and something you include in a literary analysis paper. When you read a text paying specific attention to certain literary elements, looking for particular patters, or following the development of a particular character, you are practicing close reading. Likewise, when you watch a film with particular emphasis on a certain element, you are doing a close reading. Of course, when one writes an essay that teases out a certain element, this is the beginning of a close reading. Like literary analysis more generally, close reading is not a means in and of itself. Close reading helps inform the larger meaning or import of a work.

Literary analysis involves examining the components of a literary text, which allows us to focus on small parts of the text, clues to help us understand the work as a whole. The process of close reading should produce questions. When you begin to answer these questions, you are ready to participate thoughtfully in class discussion or write a literary analysis paper. Close reading is a process of finding as much information as you can in order form to as many questions as you can.

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How to do a close reading essay [Updated 2023]

Close reading

Close reading refers to the process of interpreting a literary work’s meaning by analyzing both its form and content. In this post, we provide you with strategies for close reading that you can apply to your next assignment or analysis.

What is a close reading?

Close reading involves paying attention to a literary work’s language, style, and overall meaning. It includes looking for patterns, repetitions, oddities, and other significant features of a text. Your goal should be to reveal subtleties and complexities beyond an initial reading.

The primary difference between simply reading a work and doing a close reading is that, in the latter, you approach the text as a kind of detective.

When you’re doing a close reading, a literary work becomes a puzzle. And, as a reader, your job is to pull all the pieces together—both what the text says and how it says it.

How do you do a close reading?

Typically, a close reading focuses on a small passage or section of a literary work. Although you should always consider how the selection you’re analyzing fits into the work as a whole, it’s generally not necessary to include lengthy summaries or overviews in a close reading.

There are several aspects of the text to consider in a close reading:

  • Literal Content: Even though a close reading should go beyond an analysis of a text’s literal content, every reading should start there. You need to have a firm grasp of the foundational content of a passage before you can analyze it closely. Use the common journalistic questions (Who? What? When? Where? Why?) to establish the basics like plot, character, and setting.
  • Tone: What is the tone of the passage you’re examining? How does the tone influence the entire passage? Is it serious, comic, ironic, or something else?
  • Characterization: What do you learn about specific characters from the passage? Who is the narrator or speaker? Watch out for language that reveals the motives and feelings of particular characters.
  • Structure: What kind of structure does the work utilize? If it’s a poem, is it written in free or blank verse? If you’re working with a novel, does the structure deviate from certain conventions, like straightforward plot or realism? Does the form contribute to the overall meaning?
  • Figurative Language: Examine the passage carefully for similes, metaphors, and other types of figurative language. Are there repetitions of certain figures or patterns of opposition? Do certain words or phrases stand in for larger issues?
  • Diction: Diction means word choice. You should look up any words that you don’t know in a dictionary and pay attention to the meanings and etymology of words. Never assume that you know a word’s meaning at first glance. Why might the author choose certain words over others?
  • Style and Sound: Pay attention to the work’s style. Does the text utilize parallelism? Are there any instances of alliteration or other types of poetic sound? How do these stylistic features contribute to the passage’s overall meaning?
  • Context: Consider how the passage you’re reading fits into the work as a whole. Also, does the text refer to historical or cultural information from the world outside of the text? Does the text reference other literary works?

Once you’ve considered the above features of the passage, reflect on its relationship to the work’s larger themes, ideas, and actions. In the end, a close reading allows you to expand your understanding of a text.

Close reading example

Let’s take a look at how this technique works by examining two stanzas from Lorine Niedecker’s poem, “ I rose from marsh mud ”:

I rose from marsh mud, algae, equisetum, willows, sweet green, noisy birds and frogs to see her wed in the rich rich silence of the church, the little white slave-girl in her diamond fronds.

First, we need to consider the stanzas’ literal content. In this case, the poem is about attending a wedding. Next, we should take note of the poem’s form: four-line stanzas, written in free verse.

From there, we need to look more closely at individual words and phrases. For instance, the first stanza discusses how the speaker “rose from marsh mud” and then lists items like “algae, equisetum, willows” and “sweet green,” all of which are plants. Could the speaker have been gardening before attending the wedding?

Now, juxtapose the first stanza with the second: the speaker leaves the natural world of mud and greenness for the “rich/ rich silence of the church.” Note the repetition of the word, “rich,” and how the poem goes on to describe the “little white slave-girl/ in her diamond fronds,” the necessarily “rich” jewelry that the bride wears at her wedding.

Niedecker’s description of the diamond jewelry as “fronds” refers back to the natural world of plants that the speaker left behind. Note also the similarities in sound between the “frogs” of the first stanza and the “fronds” of the second.

We might conclude from a comparison of the two stanzas that, while the “marsh mud” might be full of “noisy/ birds and frogs,” it’s a far better place to be than the “rich/rich silence of the church.”

Ultimately, even a short close reading of Niedecker’s poem reveals layers of meaning that enhance our understanding of the work’s overall message.

How to write a close reading essay

Getting started.

Before you can write your close reading essay, you need to read the text that you plan to examine at least twice (but often more than that). Follow the above guidelines to break down your close reading into multiple parts.

Once you’ve read the text closely and made notes, you can then create a short outline for your essay. Determine how you want to approach to structure of your essay and keep in mind any specific requirements that your instructor may have for the assignment.

Structure and organization

Some close reading essays will simply analyze the text’s form and content without making a specific argument about the text. Other times, your instructor might want you to use a close reading to support an argument. In these cases, you’ll need to include a thesis statement in the introduction to your close reading essay.

You’ll organize your essay using the standard essay format. This includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Most of your close reading will be in the body paragraphs.

Formatting and length

The formatting of your close reading essay will depend on what type of citation style that your assignment requires. If you’re writing a close reading for a composition or literature class , you’ll most likely use MLA or Chicago style.

The length of your essay will vary depending on your assignment guidelines and the length and complexity of the text that you’re analyzing. If your close reading is part of a longer paper, then it may only take up a few paragraphs.

Citations and bibliography

Since you will be quoting directly from the text in your close reading essay, you will need to have in-text, parenthetical citations for each quote. You will also need to include a full bibliographic reference for the text you’re analyzing in a bibliography or works cited page.

To save time, use a credible citation generator like BibGuru to create your in-text and bibliographic citations. You can also use our citation guides on MLA and Chicago to determine what you need to include in your citations.

Frequently Asked Questions about how to do a close reading

A successful close reading pays attention to both the form and content of a literary work. This includes: literal content, tone, characterization, structure, figurative language, diction, sound, style, and context.

A close reading essay is a paper that analyzes a text or a portion of a text. It considers both the form and content of the text. The specific format of your close reading essay will depend on your assignment guidelines.

Skimming and close reading are opposite approaches. Skimming involves scanning a text superficially in order to glean the most important points, while close reading means analyzing the details of a text’s language, style, and overall form.

You might begin a close reading by providing some context about the passage’s significance to the work as a whole. You could also briefly summarize the literal content of the section that you’re examining.

The length of your essay will vary depending on your assignment guidelines and the length and complexity of the text that you’re analyzing.

How to write a critical analysis paper

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How to Write a Close Reading Essay: Full Guide with Examples

How to Write a Close Reading Essay: Full Guide with Examples

writing Close Reading Essay

writing Close Reading Essay

There is no doubt that close-reading essays are on the rise these days. And for a good reason — it is a powerful technique that can help you make your mark as a student and showcase your understanding of the text.

In this type of writing, readers will read the literary text carefully and interpret it from various points of view. Read on.

close reading analysis essay example

What is a close Reading Essay?

essay writing

A close-reading essay is an in-depth analysis of a literary work. It can be used to support a thesis statement or as a research paper. A close-reading essay focuses on the tiny themes inherent in a literary passage, story, or poem.

The focus of this type of essay is on critical thinking and analysis. The author will look at the small details that make up the overall meaning of a text.

The author will also consider how these tiny themes relate to each other and how they are presented within the text.

The key areas where a close reading essay focuses include:

  • Motivation and setting – This includes why the author wrote the piece and their purpose when they chose to write it. You can explore this through character analysis as well as themes that are common across multiple works.
  • Characters:  While characters may or may not have any significance in an overall plot, they can make up many of the elements discussed in this essay. For example, if you were analyzing Hamlet, then you would want to look at how Hamlet’s character affects his motivation for suicide (which is directly related to his madness) and how it relates to his relationship with Ophelia.

How to Write a Close Reading Essay -Step-By-Step Guide

1. read the selected text at least three additional times.

Analyze the text using your critical thinking skills. What are the author’s main points and purposes? How does the author develop these points? What evidence does he or she use to support these points? How do other writers in the field of the study compare with this author’s views?

compare and contrast

Compare and contrast this author’s point of view with other writers in your field of study. What is their purpose in writing? What evidence do they use to support their positions?

How do they compare with this writer’s views?

2. Underline Portions of the Text that you Find Significant or Odd

The purpose of this section is to give the reader a sense of the author’s tone and approach to the subject.

A close-reading essay should be read at least twice, preferably three times. Underline or highlight any portions of the text that you find odd or significant.

Ask yourself: What does this mean? How does this affect my view of the work? What questions do I have now that I didn’t have before?

Take notes on what you think might be important. You may want to write down your questions and observations as they occur to you while reading your essay. Make sure they are hierarchical so they can easily guide your next step in writing about them.

3. State the Conclusions for the Paper

A close-reading essay analyzes a text and the author’s meaning. The key to this type of essay is the ability to conclude a text. It requires the student to think critically about what he/she has read and how it relates to other texts.

The most important aspect of writing a close-reading essay is being able to conclude after reading through a piece of work and analyzing it. The reader should always be able to answer questions like:

  • What does this author mean?
  • How can I apply this message to my life?
  • Is this message relevant in today’s society?

4. Write your Introduction

The purpose of your paper is usually stated in the introduction somewhere (it might be buried in an abstract).

introduction writing

In other words, it’s not enough just to tell readers what they need to know; they also need some motivation to read further if they don’t know why they should read.

5. Write your Body Paragraphs.

A body paragraph is the bulk of your essay. It’s the place where you flesh out your ideas and connect them to the overall topic.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the details when writing a close-reading essay, so it’s important to stay focused on the big picture of what you’re trying to say. Here are some tips for developing your body paragraphs:

  • Start with a thesis statement: Make sure that each paragraph starts with an idea or question that relates to the main point of your thesis statement. For example, suppose you’re writing about how human beings have been impacted by technology in society; then, in your first paragraph. In that case, you might want to talk about how computers are changing our lives and what this means for us as individuals and as a culture.
  • Link ideas together:  Be sure that each paragraph is directly related to the previous one (or else your readers will lose track). Use transition words like “however,” “however,” “in contrast,” and “on the other hand,” or even simply add supporting details from different sources throughout each paragraph.

6. Write your Conclusion

When writing conclusion to your close reading essay, you’ll make a few points about why you think the book is worth reading. You should focus on whether or not the author has succeeded in his or her main objective and whether or not it’s an interesting book.

essay conclusion

You should also consider how the author has achieved these goals. Did they succeed because of their writing style? Or did they use an effective structure? Did they make some unique observations that you hadn’t thought of before?

Do you have any specific questions about what was done well in the book? If so, ask them now so that you don’t forget to ask them when it’s time for your argumentative essay!

3 Close Reading Essay Examples

Below are three close-reading essay examples on the topic of “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The first example is from a student named Brandon:

The main character, Jay Gatsby, is one of the most interesting characters in literature that I have ever read about.

He was a millionaire who married into a family of lower-class people and became friends with their daughter Daisy Buchanan, who had recently graduated from college and moved to New York City, where she met his son Nick Carraway.

Jay Gatsby was so fascinating to me because he had a lot of passion for life; he never gave up on what he wanted, even though he had nothing to back it up.

The Great Gatsby

When I read this book, I learned that some people don’t care about what happens to them or what other people think about them; they just do their own thing and don’t let anything stand in their way of achieving their goals in life (Gatsby).

When I read this book, I also learned about love and hate because there were many different sides to each character’s personality throughout the book (Gatsby).

In conclusion, “The Great Gatsby” is an interesting book.

Example Two

The main character in the novel, Adam Bede, is a strong-willed country boy who looks down upon city folk. He has no interest in being educated and feels that he would rather work on a farm than attend school.

He does not seem to have any particular talent or skill that would make him stand out. However, it is not until he meets the wealthy Miss Lavendar that he can express his talents through writing poetry and music.

The first time Adam meets Miss Lavendar, she sits at a piano playing a piece by Mozart. Adam has never heard music like this before. It is so beautiful that he immediately falls in love with her. The two become friends and eventually marry each other.

However, when Adam becomes famous for his poems about Miss Lavendar, she begins to feel threatened by her new husband’s success. She leaves him for another man named Mr. Thornton. He has money and power but no talent for writing poetry or music like Adam.

 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams

The play tells the story of a family during the Great Depression in Mississippi. Brick Pollitt has just returned home from World War I where he has been injured in battle and subsequently discharged with a disability pension.

His wife Maggie is expecting their first child, while his son Paul lives in New Orleans where he works as a pianist for a white man named Big Daddy Pollitt who owns a brothel in which Paul performs sexually explicit acts for the patrons at Big Daddy’s establishment called “The Brick House.”

close reading analysis essay example

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Close Reading

Close reading as analysis.

Close reading is the technique of carefully analyzing a passage’s language, content, structure, and patterns in order to understand what a passage means, what it suggests, and how it connects to the larger work. A close reading delves into what a passage means beyond a superficial level, then links what that passage suggests outward to its broader context. One goal of close reading is to help readers to see facets of the text that they may not have noticed before. To this end, close reading entails “reading out of” a text rather than “reading into” it. Let the text lead, and listen to it.

The goal of close reading is to notice, describe, and interpret details of the text that are already there, rather than to impose your own point of view. As a general rule of thumb, every claim you make should be directly supported by evidence in the text. As the name suggests this technique is best applied to a specific passage or passages rather than a longer piece, almost like a case study.

Use close reading to learn:  

  • what the passage says
  • what the passage implies
  • how the passage connects to its context

Why Close Reading?

Close reading is a fundamental skill for the analysis of any sort of text or discourse, whether it is literary, political, or commercial. It enables you to analyze how a text functions, and it helps you to understand a text’s explicit and implicit goals. The structure, vocabulary, language, imagery, and metaphors used in a text are all crucial to the way it achieves its purpose, and they are therefore all targets for close reading. Practicing close reading will train you to be an intelligent and critical reader of all kinds of writing, from political speeches to television advertisements and from popular novels to classic works of literature.

Wondering how to do a close reading? Click on our Where to Begin section to find out more!

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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.

Language choices

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.

Narrative voice

Ask yourself:

  • 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 introduction

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.

Paragraph structure

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.

Topic sentences

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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close reading analysis essay example

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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  1. Literary Analysis Essay

    Close Reading. Close reading is deep analysis of how a literary text function; it is both a reading process and something you include in a literary analysis paper. When you read a text paying specific attention to certain literary elements, looking for particular patters, or following the development of a particular character, you are ...

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    A close reading essay is a paper that analyzes a text or a portion of a text. It considers both the form and content of the text. The specific format of your close reading essay will depend on your assignment guidelines.

  3. How to Write a Close Reading Essay: Full Guide with Examples -

    A close-reading essay is an in-depth analysis of a literary work. It can be used to support a thesis statement or as a research paper. A close-reading essay focuses on the tiny themes inherent in a literary passage, story, or poem. The focus of this type of essay is on critical thinking and analysis. The author will look at the small details ...

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    Close Reading as Analysis. Close reading is the technique of carefully analyzing a passage’s language, content, structure, and patterns in order to understand what a passage means, what it suggests, and how it connects to the larger work. A close reading delves into what a passage means beyond a superficial level, then links what that passage ...

  7. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

    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. Example body paragraph for a literary analysis essay.