Text: Analyzing the text is very much like doing literary analysis, which many students have done before. Use all of your tools of literary analysis, including looking at the metaphors, rhythm of sentences, construction of arguments, tone, style, and use of language. Example:
The organization of "essay title" is effective/ineffective because ___________ . The essay's opening causes the reader to ___________ . The essay's style is ___________ and the tone is shown by ___________ . The language used is___________ . The essay's argument is constructed logically/illogically by ___________. The essay is organized by ___________ (give a very brief description of the structure of the essay, perhaps telling where the description of the problem is, where claims are made, and where support is located—in which paragraphs—and why this is effective or ineffective in proving the point).
Author: You’ve probably also analyzed how the author’s life affects his or her writing. You can do the same for this sort of analysis. For example, in my sample reading the response about Michael Crichton's "Let's Stop Scaring Ourselves" article, students noted that the fact that Crichton is the author of doomsday thrillers like Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park makes his argument that we shouldn't pay much attention to current doomsday scenarios like global warming rather ironic. If you don't know anything about the author, you can always do a quick Google Search to find out. Sample format:
The author establishes his/her authority by ___________ . The author's bias is shown in ___________ . The author assumes an audience who ___________ . He/She establishes common ground with the audience by ___________ .
Reader: You can write this section by inferring who the intended reader is, as well as looking at the text from the viewpoint of other sorts of readers. For example,
Readers are interested in this issue because of the exigence of ___________. Constraints on the reader's reaction are ___________. I think the reader would react to this argument by ___________. I think that the author's ___________ is effective. ___________ is less effective because ___________ includes ___________. The support is adequate/inadequate and is relevant/irrelevant to the author’s claim.
If you’ve been asked to analyze a piece of literature, try following these steps:
- Identify the author's purpose. Ask yourself, what theme or main idea did the author want the reader to understand after he or she had finished reading?
- Think of the characters, tone, setting, rhythm, plot, imagery, etc. as devices or tools that help ensure that the reader "gets" the meaning that the writer intended him or her to learn.
- Ask yourself, why did the author choose to use these devices, in these particular ways? How does this kind of character, plot event, or type of imagery help the reader understand the theme?
Remember, tell us how & why—don’t just summarize!
Need an example?
Robin Hood stole goods and money from the rich residents of his town to give to the town’s poorer residents.
The use of a monarchy or kingdom setting in Robin Hood allowed the author to portray the abuses of power that often occur among the wealthiest members of a community.
|Snow White||Snow White falls into a deep, death-like slumber when she takes a bite of a poisoned apple.||The use of certain plot elements in Snow White, such as the poisoned apple and resulting slumber, help readers understand that being too trusting can lead to dire consequences.|
|Cinderella||Cinderella tells the story of a young girl whose evil stepmother tries to keep her from her true love.||The author of Cinderella paired lazy female characters with a hard–working female protagonist to show that hard work leads to love and happiness.|