A literary essay is a short, non-fiction composition that covers virtually any literary topic imaginable. Authors sometimes write literary essays for reading pleasure rather than to convey a message, and students are often assigned literary essays to assess their knowledge of books or stories they read.
Many modern literary essays are quite long with thousands of words. Although it is not a requirement, most literary essays contain three basic parts: an introduction, the body of the essay and a conclusion. While sometimes criticized for being too restrictive, many literary essays organize their information into five paragraphs. Following this model, the first paragraph is the introduction, the final paragraph is the conclusion and the three paragraphs in the middle contain the body of the piece.