Seven Basic Elements Of A Proper Literary Essay

Until you entered college, writing a literary essay had probably never even entered your head, and so it is probably safe to assume that you were unlikely to have considered the need to write one properly. However, in the world of academia it doesn’t really matter whether you have been tasked with writing a Thesis, an exploratory piece or as in this scenario, a literary essay. The key is in understanding that there is a formula to everything that you are expected to do and once you have nailed that formula; cracked the code you will never struggle again. Indeed, the students that excel are the ones that grasp this early on.

Here are the seven basic elements. Nail these and you should be more than happy with your grade:

A literary essay in a nutshell

Before we start breaking it down, it is helpful to understand what this should look like as a whole. Rather than simply summarizing a novel, poem or play, you will be expected to offer up an in-depth analysis and critique of the work.

  1. Introduction
  2. All essays begin with an introduction and while you might get away with a few flaky sentences or paragraphs in the main body, to do so in the introduction would be academic suicide. This is your chance to shine; to set out your stall and titillate your reader with what is yet to come.

  3. Thesis statement
  4. In this, you will clearly state the purpose of the essay and what you intend to achieve.

  5. An examination of a literary work
  6. You will be expected to do a thorough analysis of either a poem, short story or novel. You should examine underlying themes and present your viewpoint on this. Your argument needs to be tight and totally unambiguous.

  7. Examples
  8. As with any form of argumentative piece, you are going to need to be able to back up your statement and assertions with examples. Prepare these in advance and work around them rather than having to go and hunt them out at a later date.

  9. Headings
  10. You might have the best thought out argument in the world. However, if your presentation is sloppy, then your grades will ultimately suffer. Headings are a great way of not just capturing the reader’s attention but also giving your essay a neat and tidy appearance.

  11. Citations
  12. Your tutor will most likely have drummed in the need to protect yourself against any allegations of plagiarism. So, if you have quoted from other sources be sure to cite, or acknowledge them in your work.

  13. Conclusion
  14. Just as your introduction is key to spelling out what lies ahead, then your conclusion should effectively sum up and tie up all of the loose ends. It should leave the reader in no doubt that you have achieved your goals.