Literary Analysis Prompt
• Purpose: To further develop your skills in college-level research and
• Essay Prompt:
• Present a literary analysis of your chosen text using literary critiques and
reviews by scholarly sources. You’ll be using your research sources as a
“lens” through which to analyze your chosen literary text. You must
connect your research to specific moments in the literary text. Be sure to
explain to your reader both what your research says and how it impacts your
reading of your piece of literature. Be sure to look at setting, diction
choices and author’s writing style, theme, plot (see plot diagram on
D2L), characters (see archetypes on D2L), symbols, and conflict (man v.
Use the SLRC’s topic
development web to explore
your chosen literary piece
for research ideas. There are
two sample literary analysis
I. The Basics
What is your topic? __________________________________________________________________
Start developing a mind map as you explore the background of your topic. This will help you
narrow your focus and identify stronger directions for your argument.
Setting = time and place your story takes place. This is often
quite significant as it relates to what is occurring historically.
Author’s writing style and diction choices. What is the tone
the author uses?
Tone = author’s attitude. Tone/Attitude words describe the
author’s or speaker’s attitude toward the subject in a piece of
writing. Tone is an important consideration when attempting
to evaluate style. If, for instance, an author is being happy or
joyful, his word choice (imagery) will reflect the tone.
Theme = author’s message, argument, relevance
Symbols = literary device that contains several layers of meaning, often
concealed at first sight, and is representative of several other aspects, concepts
or traits than those that are visible in the literal translation alone. Symbol is
using an object or action that means something more than its literal meaning.
Conflict = must be present in a story. Keeps the reader reading.
Four types of conflict = man v. man (another person, physical or verbal)
man v. nature (outside, ex. snow blizzard, hurricane)
man v. self (internal struggle, ex. anger, addiction)
man v. world (political, environmental)
“A Worn Path” Welty
“Everyday Use” Walker
“Hills Like White Elephants” Hemingway (anything
Hemingway will work)
“To Build a Fire” London
“The Things They Carried” (short story version) O’Brien
“A Rose for Emily” Faulkner (in Norton Field Guide)
“Barn Burning” Faulkner (anything)
“The Gilded Six-bits” Hurston
“Sonny’s Blues” Baldwin
“The Rocking Horse Winner” Lawrence
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” O’Connor
“Everything That Rises Must Converge” O’Connor (in They
Say I Say)
“The Egg” Anderson
“The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” Porter
“The Chrysanthemums” Steinbeck
“The Man Who was Almost a Man” Wright
“The Yellow Wallpaper” Perkins Gilman (in Norton Field
A Doll’s House Ibsen (short feminist play, Norwegian)
Trifles Glaspell (one act feminist play)
SLRC Research Guide
Requirements: Do literary and non-literary research: You will look at
literary criticism on your chosen text--for example. Use at
least three research sources: At least two of your sources
must be scholarly; these can either be scholarly journal
articles or excerpts from books written by scholars.
Acceptable popular (non-scholarly) sources include
college-level books, reputable websites, and newspapers.
Subject-specific encyclopedias, like the Encyclopedia of
Social Sciences, are also acceptable, although general
encyclopedias are not, no Credo.
Make connections between the texts: Your paper must
connect your research sources to your literary text. Don’t
just describe what the research says or compare it to your
literary text. The essay does not contain personal references
to you in any shape or form. You are analyzing the text;
therefore, the do nots handout does apply entirely.
Use quotes from your literary text and each research source.
Have a Works Cited page: Your final draft must include a
Works Cited page in MLA style. The Works Cited page
does not count toward the page length requirement.
Do Nots Rules for Writing
These rules apply to writing about literature specifically, but may apply to most writing. Please
spend time proofreading and editing your essay. When analyzing, always remember to stay
formal and analytical.
1. Do not start an essay with “I was . . . “ or any variation of this.
2. Do not start an essay with “There is . . . “ or any variation of this.
3. Do not use YOU or any form of the second person.
4. Do not refer to the reader or the audience (don’t assume I am the reader).
5. Do not use the first person especially by saying “I think . . . “ The essay
obviously illustrates how you think.
6. Do not editorialize. Avoid the word “should.” This means to give an
unsubstantiated opinion such as “All men behave this way when given the chance.”
or “People shouldn’t be so cruel.”
7. Do not use incorrect punctuation on titles of novels or short stores: novels are underlined or italicized,
short stories are in “quotations.” (MLA format)
8. Do not say “In this essay I will . . . “
9. Do not use slang or vulgarity. Elevate your diction.
10. Do not say “This quote means . . .”
11. Do not use apostrophes (‘) incorrectly. They do not make nouns plural.
Normally they are used to show possession (Tom’s book) or a contraction (can’t).
12. Do not ever use: you, my, me, I, should, very, a lot, portray, quote
Please do this on
your own essay. You
must use present
tense verbs (unless
inside a quote).
Star your thesis statement
______ Underline the first sentence of each paragraph (you must have a topic
sentence – what the paragraph is about)
Check each of your direct quotes (Are they in the correct MLA format?
Do the quotes flow into the sentence and/or the paragraph?)
Triangle your quoted author’s name and page number (in text citation)
S/V Label each subject and verb in your sentence (you are looking for
singular subject/singular verb, plural subject/plural verb)
The ratiocination should not be a quick, easy process. If you are truly doing this
correctly, that is to improve your essay; you must read through the entire essay at
least twice. Ideally, you are looking closely at each word, line, sentence, and
paragraph. You may now be ready to peer conference
who can give
Exchange your typed, ratiocinated essay, and this conferencing sheet, with your
partner. Please be as honest and helpful with your partner, as possible, as you
write on their essay and this handout, for their grade depends upon your
1. Does the student’s essay have at least four coherent, complete paragraphs
and the length assigned?
2. Does the student’s introduction include the title of the pieces, the author’s
full name, and a developed thesis statement? (Check each of these
off in the student’s intro. paragraph).
3. Does the student’s essay have at least the minimum required quotes
documented in MLA format (these should be check marked and triangle
already, thus easy to find).
4. Does the student’s conclusion restate the ideas discussed in the essay (i.e.
doesn’t present new ideas) and sums up their thoughts?
5. Place a ? beside the words/phrases/sentences which do not make
sense, are verbose, and/or include incorrect grammar and lack of
6. Place an SP beside any obvious spelling errors.
7. Please discuss each essay; stay on task.
Final Draft/Final Exam
6 full pages (not including the Works Cited page), double-
spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, one-inch margins.
Use MLA style for all in-text citations (8-10 quotes) and a
Works Cited page. The Works Cited page does not count
toward the page requirement. First rough draft
ratiocination/peer conference is DUE May 19th. Essay is
DUE May 21st, remember turnitin.com prior to class. This
essay is now worth 25% and counts as your essay 4 and
final exam grade.