Literary Analysis Essay

This paper crafts a close reading that explains some aspect about a text’s historical, literary, or cultural significance. The texts you may choose from are any readings we cover within Weeks 5-7 or any readings in the Norton Anthology textbook between pages 234-582. You may focus on explicating the chosen text’s theme or other literary elements or a form of both. You may refer to other texts, but the focus of the argument should draw evidence from the chosen text to say something, again, about its historical, literary or cultural significance. Truly think about what the text is saying to the reader at a deeper level than just the surface meaning. Some items to possibly analyze in the text are the language used or the relevant theme tied to cultural or historical values of that time period. If you are unsure and have a few ideas you want to run by me, please reach out and we can discuss them.

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To assist your argument, you will need to conduct some research. The only outside research required for this essay will be three scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles. These can be found through the CPCC library’s databases. Click here for the link. Since sources will be used, it is imperative that the source material be documented both within the essay and on a Works Cited page in the 8th edition MLA style. Please refer to the handouts over the next few weeks to familiarize yourself with the MLA style.

Suggested Format:

  • Introduction: One paragraph. Peak your reader’s interest and focus your argument. You do not need to include a plot summary; assume your reader is familiar with the text. Introduce the aspect of the historical, literary, or cultural context that your analysis will illuminate.
    • Thesis: Place your thesis as the last sentence in the first paragraph. The thesis should be purely analytical rather than descriptive. For example, this is a strong thesis: “Jane Doe’s short story ‘Family’ responds to what many conservatives in the 1990’s described as the ‘Crisis of the Family’.”
    • Interest! Make sure your reader understands what makes this argument worthwhile. What will the reader gain from reading your argument?
  • Body: Multiple paragraphs. The paper’s support. Start each paragraph with a clear topic sentence that connects the evidence with a portion of the thesis.
  • Conclusion: Can be brief- one paragraph. Wrap up your argument.


  • Length: 4 pages (not including the Works Cited page)
  • Style: MLA, 8th edition
  • Structure: MLA header (top left-hand side of first page) and title (centered) and a complete introduction with a thesis, body paragraphs and a conclusion; the format must be in an argument style
  • Point of View: 3rd person only (Do not use “I”, “we”, “us”, “you”, “your”)
  • Sources: Primary- Selected text and Secondary- 3 scholarly peer reviewed journal articles
  • Format: Must be created in a Word document and submitted as a doc. or docx. file

Any form of plagiarism on this assignment will result in a “0” for the essay. Be sure to cite and document all outside source material.

No revisions will be allowed. Put your very best effort into the final draft and proofread before submitting the essay!