When you read for pleasure, your only goal is enjoyment.
You might find yourself reading to get caught up in an exciting story, to learn about an interesting time or place, or just to pass time.
These are the whats of the work—what happens, where it happens, and to whom it happens.
When you’ve examined all the evidence you’ve collected and know how you want to answer the question, it’s time to write your thesis statement.
Ask yourself why the author chose to write about that character or scene the way he or she did and you might tap into some important insights about the work as a whole. Is there a phrase that the main character uses constantly or an image that repeats throughout the book?
If you can figure out how that pattern weaves through the work and what the significance of that pattern is, you’ve almost got your entire essay mapped out. Great works of literature are complex; great literary essays recognize and explain those complexities.A literary essay also isn’t like the kind of book report you wrote when you were younger, where your teacher wanted you to summarize the book’s action.A high school- or college-level literary essay asks, “How does this piece of literature actually work? ” and, “Why might the author have made the choices he or she did?A thesis is a claim about a work of literature that needs to be supported by evidence and arguments.The thesis statement is the heart of the literary essay, and the bulk of your paper will be spent trying to prove this claim.You can help direct your reading and brainstorming by formulating your topic as a question, which you’ll then try to answer in your essay.The best questions invite critical debates and discussions, not just a rehashing of the summary.These are the elements that you will analyze in your essay, and which you will offer as evidence to support your arguments.For more on the parts of literary works, see the Glossary of Literary Terms at the end of this section.When you read a work of literature in an English class, however, you’re being asked to read in a special way: you’re being asked to perform literary analysis.To analyze something means to break it down into smaller parts and then examine how those parts work, both individually and together.