What Is a Literary Analysis?

A literary analysis is when a writer analyzes literature by looking at the characters in the story, the theme of the story, the tone and rhythm present in the writing, the plot and the various literary devices used within the story. Most literary analyses are put into papers or essays.

If asked to write a literary analysis, a writer should first attempt to find the author’s reason for writing or his or her purpose for the story. This helps to identify the theme. Once the purpose and the theme have been identified, the writer can move forward to look at the way that the story is told using literary devices. The writer should ask questions about the literature as he or she works such as, “Why were these literary devices used and in what ways?” or “How did this plot event tie in with the theme of the story?”

One example of a short literary analysis could be found in the story “Snow White” by discussing the ways in which Snow White was too trusting of those around her and ended up in dangerous situations. The theme might be that a person should be aware of their surroundings and should question the people that they meet in order to stay in control of the person’s fate. On the other hand, showcasing Snow White’s charm and genuine love for others cautions readers to not become too rigid or suspicious, but to find a healthy balance.