An assignment to interpret a work of literature can seem overwhelming. Figuring out where to start, what literary elements to analyze and what to interpret does not have to be an impossible task.
Overview When your teachers or professors ask you to analyze a literary text, they often look for something frequently called close reading. Close reading is deep analysis of how a literary text works; it is both a reading process and something you include in a literary analysis paper, though in a refined form.
Fiction writers and poets build texts out of many central components, including subject, form, and specific word choices.
Literary analysis involves examining these components, which allows us to find in small parts of the text clues to help us understand the whole. For example, if an author writes a novel in the form of a personal journal about a character's daily life, but that journal reads like a series of lab reports, what do interpretive analysis and writing about literature roberts learn about that character?
What is the effect of picking a word like "tome" instead of "book"? In effect, you are putting the author's choices under a microscope.
The process of close reading should produce a lot of questions. It is when you begin to answer these questions that you are ready to participate thoughtfully in class discussion or write a literary analysis paper that makes the most of your close reading work. Close reading sometimes feels like over-analyzing, but don't worry.
Close reading is a process of finding as much information as you can in order form to as many questions as you can.
When it is time to write your paper and formalize your close reading, you will sort through your work to figure out what is most convincing and helpful to the argument you hope to make and, conversely, what seems like a stretch.
This guide imagines you are sitting down to read a text for the first time on your way to developing an argument about a text and writing a paper. To give one example of how to do this, we will read the poem "Design" by famous American poet Robert Frost and attend to four major components of literary texts: If you want even more information about approaching poems specifically, take a look at our guide: How to Read a Poem.
Make notes in the margins, underline important words, place question marks where you are confused by something.
Of course, if you are reading in a library book, you should keep all your notes on a separate piece of paper. If you are not making marks directly on, in, and beside the text, be sure to note line numbers or even quote portions of the text so you have enough context to remember what you found interesting.
Design I found a dimpled spider, fat and white, On a white heal-all, holding up a moth Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth— Assorted characters of death and blight Mixed ready to begin the morning right, Like the ingredients of a witches' broth— A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth, And dead wings carried like a paper kite.
What had that flower to do with being white, The wayside blue and innocent heal-all? What brought the kindred spider to that height, Then steered the white moth thither in the night? What but design of darkness to appall? What is its plot?
What is its most important topic? What image does it describe? It's easy to think of novels and stories as having plots, but sometimes it helps to think of poetry as having a kind of plot as well. When you examine the subject of a text, you want to develop some preliminary ideas about the text and make sure you understand its major concerns before you dig deeper.
Observations In "Design," the speaker describes a scene: The flower is a heal-all, the blooms of which are usually violet-blue. This heal-all is unusual. The speaker then poses a series of questions, asking why this heal-all is white instead of blue and how the spider and moth found this particular flower.
How did this situation arise? Questions The speaker's questions seem simple, but they are actually fairly nuanced. We can use them as a guide for our own as we go forward with our close reading. Furthering the speaker's simple "how did this happen," we might ask, is the scene in this poem a manufactured situation?
The white moth and white spider each use the atypical white flower as camouflage in search of sanctuary and supper respectively. Did these flora and fauna come together for a purpose? Does the speaker have a stance about whether there is a purpose behind the scene?A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis; Using Literary Quotations; A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis.
Use the guidelines below to learn about the practice of close reading. A Short Guide to Writing about Literature. Barnet and Cain offer not only definitions and descriptions of processes, but examples of. Literature & Composition: Reading • Writing • Thinking Carol Jago, Renée H.
Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses Approaching Literature Robert Frost, From Analysis to Essay: Writing an Interpretive Essay Susan Glaspell, Trifles Analyzing Literary Elements Developing a .
36d WRITING ABOUT LITERATURE Cultural analysis of literature A cultural analysis relates the literary work to broader historical, .
Descriptive and interpretive approaches to qualitative research ), interpretative phenomenological analysis (Smith, Jarman, Osborn, ), and Consensual Qualitative Research (Hill, Thompson, Williams, ).
Following Barker, without first reading the available literature. The reason for this position was the belief. The Basics. Use the following guidelines for teaching how to write an interpretive essay or how to write a literary analysis: The introduction must introduce the literary work, capture the reader's attention, and include a clearly written thesis statement that contains the literary interpretation.
Your interpretive thesis is the argument that you wish to make the work that you have written and then support with through the evidence that you present within the body of your writing.
Coming up with a solid and defendable thesis, however, is not always a simple task and many students will struggle with it no matter how far through their 5/5.