PHCC Writing Center LITERARY NALYSIS Literary Analysis

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PHCC Writing Center LITERARY ANALYSIS Page 2 of 5, An analysis on the other hand goes beyond simply what is contained in the literature It uses the literature as. a starting point using it to support an opinion In other words when you write a literary analysis you must. bring something new to the table Usually this involves discussing the story under the lens of the literary. elements For instance if we analyze the story events described above we might get something like this. Analysis right Farquhar s demise at the end of the story is the perfect example of situational. irony and the author uses this to great effect in shattering the reader s expectations in an emotional. This statement is much more analytical in nature because it goes beyond what we see just in the story itself In. fact the above statement doesn t even mention what happens in the story it doesn t need to the reader is. already familiar with the story Instead it discusses one of the literary elements situational irony and explains. how it is used for emotional effect Those are inferences they aren t apparent in the actual text of the story. but are instead supplied by the one writing the analysis. Elements of Literature, One way to analyze literature is to closely examine its literary elements that is the devices and ideas that. make a story work Often these devices can be used to explain a main point There are far too many different. literary elements to discuss within the scope of a small informational resource but here are some of the most. significant, This refers to the primary undertones of the story If you learned Aesop s Fables or some classic fairy tales. growing up you might have learned the moral of the story In the story of the Tortoise and the Hare for. instance the theme might be that slow and steady wins the race Modern fiction however often involves. insights on behavior on the human condition or on current events rather than morals intending to evoke. an internal debate for its readers, The plot is essentially the action of the story This is a difficult element to properly discuss in a literary analysis. because it s very easy to fall into the trap of discussing what happens in the story which would be a summary. instead of an analysis If you re going to discuss plot in a literary analysis remember the cardinal rule don t. spend time discussing things your reader would know just by reading the story Instead discuss how the plot. supports your main point perhaps there s something unusual about the plot for instance a climax with no. falling action which the author might use to create some emotional effect Perhaps the structure of the plot. is interesting itself many short stories for instance have non linear plots that is they use flashbacks or they. jump forward in time In any case consider the plot itself instead of the story events that make up the plot. Characters, Stories are told through characters and indeed a character study can be a strong literary analysis in its own.
right However as with the other elements it s important not to let a character analysis turn into a summary. If you re going to write a character analysis don t focus on what the characters do Instead focus on what the. characters are or what they represent Almost any literary character fits into one of three roles. Last update 12 July 2016,PHCC Writing Center LITERARY ANALYSIS Page 3 of 5. Protagonist A leading character often characterized as the hero or the good guy though this can. be misleading as the protagonist is not necessarily good or heroic The protagonist is simply put. the main character or group of characters of the story. Antagonist Basically the opponent or adversary of the protagonist sometimes called the villain or. bad guy but as with the protagonist this can be misleading the antagonist may not be bad or. villainous, Catalyst A character who is neither clearly a protagonist nor antagonist yet still plays an important. role in moving the action of the story forward, Characters often have related roles too One of the best examples of this very useful in a character analysis. is the concept of a foil A foil is a character who acts as a counterpart to another by exhibiting many of the. opposite character traits for example Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle s. classic detective stories Holmes is reclusive hyper observant and slightly eccentric whereas Watson is. outgoing and worldly wise but tends to miss small details. Narrative Point of View, Every work of fiction has a narrator When you read a story you may not be conscious of the narrator s. existence but narrative is what makes a story The narrative is simply the words of the story However a story. can be told from many possible perspectives The point of view of the story is simply the perspective from. which the narrative is given There are several common points of view for literature. Third person limited In a third person limited story the narrative follows a single character at any. given time We the readers see the actions of the story from a perspective that is centered on this. character but is told by an unseen narrator not by the character himself or herself that is the. pronouns I and me will not be present except in dialogue We also are privy to this character s. thoughts and emotions but not the thoughts and emotions of other characters The focal character. may change throughout the story but there will only be one focal character at any particular time A. good example of this is George R R Martin s popular fantasy story A Game of Thrones each chapter. of this book follows a different focal character but the entire work is told in this third person limited. point of view, Third person omniscient The third person omniscient narrator is quite simply speaking from a god.
like perspective that is the narrative is told from a point of view that is disconnected from the. characters but sees all The omniscient narrator describes not just the thoughts and emotions of a. single character but of all the characters This point of view was quite common in the literature of the. late 1800s and early 1900s but has become less popular in modern works Some good examples of. stories in this point of view are Ernest Hemingway s The Old Man and the Sea and Charles Dickens s A. Tale of Two Cities,Last update 12 July 2016,PHCC Writing Center LITERARY ANALYSIS Page 4 of 5. o Third person objective This perspective is essentially the opposite of third person omniscient. in that instead of seeing all of the characters thoughts we don t see any thoughts or emotions. only actions In other words the narrative is told in much the same way as a reporter might. describe the events of a news story A good example of this perspective can be found in the. Bible the events of the Gospel of Mark the second book of the New Testament are told from. this point of view, First person In first person point of view the narrator is physically present as one of the characters of. the story Here we see the story as told by one of its characters as one might read a journal or. memoir so pronouns like I and me are present, Even though these are the most common perspectives in literature some stories are told from unusual or. unconventional points of view For instance C S Lewis s Screwtape Letters is written from second person. point of view the narrator tells the story as a series of letters written to another character using second person. pronouns like you and your, Sometimes a story may take a common point of view but use an interesting narrative technique One good. example of this is the concept of the unreliable narrator common in the stories of Edgar Allan Poe perhaps. most notably in The Tell Tale Heart where the first person narrative has a skewed perspective on reality. Other writers may expose some of the meta story that is the technique and motivation behind the narrative. by breaking an invisible barrier known in literature as the fourth wall the barrier between the characters and. the audience A good example of this can be found in Charlotte Bront s novel Jane Eyre in which the narrator. of the story written in first person directly addresses the reader A new chapter in a novel is something like. a new scene in a play and when I draw up the curtain this time reader you must fancy you see a room. One of the most common plot devices in literature is irony Quite simply put irony is anything contrary to. expectation This concept is simple but because it is often the key element of interest in a short story it can. make for a very comprehensive literary analysis Irony can appear in many ways and on multiple levels in the. telling of a story The entire story can be an exercise in irony or it may contain examples of irony throughout. the story or both things can be true Most irony can be classified as one of three types. Situational irony This is the most common type of irony in literature situational irony occurs in a. story when there is a marked difference between what is expected and what happens L Frank. Baum s enduring story of The Wizard of Oz is in fact built around situational irony the four main. characters go on a long perilous journey to obtain the things they want most only to discover they. have had those things all along, Verbal irony This is when a character says one thing but means or does something else This could.
refer to sarcasm for instance a character who comes in out of a blizzard rolls his eyes and mockingly. says My what lovely weather we re having but often it simply refers to a character acting in a. manner that doesn t match what he or she says For example in the classic movie Casablanca Rick. Last update 12 July 2016,PHCC Writing Center LITERARY ANALYSIS Page 5 of 5. the protagonist says multiple times I stick my neck out for nobody yet throughout the story he is. seen making gestures and taking risks for the sake of others. Dramatic irony This refers to a disconnect between a character s knowledge and the audience s. knowledge In other words dramatic irony is when the audience knows something that a character. doesn t know A good example can be found in William Shakespeare s tragedy Romeo and Juliet. Juliet has taken a sleeping draught to make herself appear dead to her family The audience is aware. that she is not actually dead but Romeo her forbidden lover finds her before news can reach him. and he commits suicide thinking that she is truly dead. The tone of a story is created by the attitudes of the narrative often supported by the words and actions of the. story s characters Basically it is the style of the story s voice This can be used to great effect to create. empathy between the reader and the characters In Mark Twain s short story The Celebrated Jumping Frog. of Calaveras County we the readers are able to feel the frustrations of the main character who is also the. narrator in the ironic tone that he creates as he relates the events of the story The main character is asked to. inquire after another character s childhood friend named Leonidas Smiley He describes I have a lurking. suspicion that Leonidas W Smiley is a myth and he the character who made the initial request to the. narrator would go to work and bore me to death with some exasperating reminiscence of him as long and. tedious as it should be useless to me If that was the design it succeeded Through the ironic tone which in. this case is derived primarily from word choice known as diction and syntax the structure and style of the. sentence a long unbroken monologue we can feel the frustration of the narrator as social graces force him. to stand and listen to a story that he finds quite boring In addition to diction and syntax tone can also be. created through imagery the appeal to sight and other senses language for instance figurative language. such as similes and metaphors and the author s selection of details you may have learned this formula for. analyzing tone as DIDLS diction imagery details language and syntax. Every story has some sort of setting The setting is basically or even literally in the case of a play the stage. where the action of the story happens Setting refers chiefly to where and when a story s events take place. For instance the setting of Conan Doyle s Sherlock Holmes stories is Victorian England that is England during. the time when Queen Victoria reigned the late 1800s However it s important to remember that simply. identifying the setting isn t good enough for a literary analysis there has to be analysis of the setting How does. the setting illustrate the theme of the story How does the author use the setting to control the tone There. are many different ways to analyze the setting,Purpose of a Literary Analysis. Ultimately the literary analysis is a work of opinion When you write a literary analysis you re not writing a. summary or even an explanation of the story Instead you are taking the story apart and looking beyond the. text of the story itself When you write a literary analysis you should not focus on what the story is but instead. focus on what makes the story work Look at the elements that make up the story and see beyond the simple. paper and ink that drive it,Last update 12 July 2016. PHCC Writing Center LITERARY ANALYSIS Page 4 of 5 Last update 12 July 2016 o Third person objective This perspective is essentially the opposite of third person omniscient in that instead of seeing all of the characters thoughts we don t see any thoughts or emotions only actions In other words the narrative is told in much the same way as a reporter might

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