Literary analysis often engages novels and short stories, poems, or plays. Assignments typically ask writers to develop a claim/argument/interpretation about a key concern or tactic in a literary text by analyzing important moments, passages, or lines.

While the different literary genres offer specific features to consider (e.g., line breaks in poetry and stage directions in plays), literary analysis assignments usually share two common concerns: favor analysis over summary and work to introduce/frame the importance of the passage(s) you focus on (instead of ripping them out of context.

Analyzing Novels and Short Stories

Summary vs. analysis: This University of Arizona Global Campus resource offers quick explanations and examples to help writers distinguish between summary and analysis.

Summary: Using it wisely: This UNC Chapel Hill Writing Center page offers more extended advice on identifying and limiting summary in favor of analysis.

Analyzing literature

A list of basic tips (dos and don'ts)

How to analyze passages from literature: We like the guiding questions this webpage offers. Plus, we know the author.

A comprehensive literary analysis guide for students from a textbook publisher

Analyzing Poetry

Analyzing poetry

Understanding poetry explications

Student sample essay about a poem (with comments)

Analyzing Drama

Structure of a Play Review

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