Do you need to create a literary essay but don’t know where to begin? Well, that’s understandable, seeing as this type of paper can concern any literary topic! I mean- that’s a big subject, right?
These types of papers are non-fiction compositions which will often comprise of: an introduction, main body text and conclusion structured into five paragraphs- but there aren’t any hard and fast rules. Having said that, if you are composing a literary paper, make sure you know if your teacher expects certain requirements to be met.
As a student, the purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate your knowledge about a particular literary work (although authors often use literary essays too for differing purposes).
Firstly, you should select a work that you’ve not only read, but know well! It shouldn’t just conform to that criteria however. Whatever work of literature you choose, you also need to ascertain that it is appropriate to be examined and can be done so in detail.
Make a list of books as possible candidates. Then make lists and flowcharts for each one, exploring the differing threads of the subjects at hand. Let’s say, you’ve chosen John Milton’s Paradise Lost. There are an abundance of themes at play. Make notes of these themes, such as: the mortality of humankind, good and evil, the book in comparison to the Holy Bible and other contextual works- like some of Blake’s Illuminated works, the use of poetic language, the controversies surrounding it, its status as a classic, moral, philosophical and theological questions raised… and so on.
The more you have a visual map of the sort of threads to explore, the more you can pinpoint the exact basis for your paper.
Remember the purpose is to show your understanding of the book and the themes you have chosen to explore. You will therefore need to not only rely on your own interpretations but also be aware of other viewpoints on the topics at hand. Researching what other critics, authors and professors have written about your chosen work is crucial to writing a well-rounded paper.
You should also research other examples. The more you can see how others have handled the task, the better you will be prepared for when it comes to writing your own. You’ll be able to find examples in your campus and public libraries as well as on the internet.