How to Analyze Literature

HACC tutoring presents how to analyze literature literary analysis can be intimidating to a lot of students and it does take some critical thinking however it doesn't have to be a mystery first let's define literary analysis analysis in general means that you are examining something critically by looking at its separate parts so if you're analyzing a football teams chance of winning a game you wouldn't just consider their record you'd also consider the strengths and weaknesses of the players the skills of the coaches possibly the weather conditions are the type of turf even their motivation like with rivalries for home-field advantage all of these come together to show a bigger meaning that's exactly what literary analysis is doing only instead of a sports team you're analyzing a literary text like a short story novel poem or movie let's work on an example if we choose to analyze the movie Cinderella our first step would be to consider what is a bigger meaning of the story this is called the theme a theme is a recurring idea or insight found in the text so it's a hidden meaning within the story to come up with a theme for a story it might help to consider a broad topic like love friendship or good versus evil and then describe what the story is saying about that topic in our example of Cinderella one of the main topics is dreams so now we have to decide what the story is saying about dreams one answer could be that it's saying dreams can come true if you don't give up so that's our theme now that we've chosen it let's begin our analysis remember analyzing means critically examining a text by looking at its separate parts not a summary so if players coaches and weather conditions are some of the separate parts of a team's chance of winning what would be the separate parts of a story the answer to that is literary elements which are the parts of stories some of the most common literary elements are character symbolism plot setting imagery and tone or mood if you're not sure what those are take a moment to look them up in your text book or online remember our chosen theme for Cinderella is dreams can come true if you don't give up so we need to find literary elements that prove that this is a meaning in the story let's start with plot in the movie Cinderella eventually gets her dream of going to the ball because she didn't give up despite the obstacles that her family caused Prince Charming also gets his dream of finding Cinderella after travelling his whole kingdom with the glass slipper both of these examples are events in the plot that support our bigger meaning dreams can come true if you don't give up but you don't want to stop with only one literary element try to push it further another element we could use is dialogue we could discuss the words in the song a dream is a wish that your heart makes which is from the movie we'd be able to pull out specific lines like if you keep on being here the dream that you wish is another piece of our analysis we could also use the literary elements symbolism to prove our theme by talking about how the glass slipper symbolizes a dream that has come true after all shoes made out of glass are certainly more dreamlike than realistic but somehow they become true enough for Cinderella to wear them to the ball as you can see we're studying all of these literary elements to think critically about the whole story that's literary analysis you would use this same process to analyze any text first come up with a theme which again is a bigger meaning of the story then pick out literary elements that prove that your theme is true want to learn more tips for succeeding in college stop by the learning center of your HACC campus to talk with a tutor and don't forget to check out our other cool online videos see you next time

24 thoughts on “How to Analyze Literature

  1. How to Analyze writer, poet, novelist and dramatist literature about their life, carrer and others
    How to Analyze english literature writer in Literature

  2. Thank you so much I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do and you put it all in a blender and fed it to me like Gerber (baby food) 🙂

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