Short Story Literary Analysis
This is an essay which will analyze
the author’s development of theme in
a short story.
The introduction must introduce the author,
the title of the story, provide a brief plot
summary, state the theme of the story, and
explain which literary devices the author
uses to develop the theme. Do not forget
that the entire essay must be written in
present tense!!!!
Examples of literary devices:
How does the author use the following literary devices to
develop the theme of the story?
Characterization (character’s actions, inner thoughts and
motivation. Is the character dynamic?)
Point of view (who is telling the story?)
Plot (conflict, climax, resolution)
Body Paragraphs
Each body paragraph must focus on one
literary device and how the author uses the
device to develop the theme. For example,
The conflict in “The Most Dangerous
Game” reveals the theme that we can not
understand another’s perspective until we
have experienced his perspective.
Each body paragraph must include at least
one quote and must follow proper format
for integrating quotes.
The conclusion must restate the thesis and
summarize the impact of the theme on the
This is at least a five paragraph essay.
Do not use personal pronouns or
The entire paper must be written in present
You must use a minimum of three quotes.
Writing a Literary
What is it?
A literary analysis is a type of paper that has the ultimate goal
of bringing some new or greater understanding of the book,
story, or poem. In addition, it is an argument because you are
proposing something original about the text which may not
have been thought of before, or you are adding more to an
existing thesis surrounding the book.
does it look
A good literary analysis has
the following components:
*It has a solid and unique thesis statement that clearly is arguable. Your
goal is to prove this thesis statement!
*It has a solid introduction, body, and conclusion. It uses effective
transitions and the writer analyzes sufficient textual support from the
*There is at least one bit of meaningful textual support in each body
*It contains a well-formatted works cited page.
Other helpful tips!
1. Write in the present tense
2. Normally, keep yourself out of your analysis; in other words, use the third
person (no I or you). Some instructors may require or allow the first or second
person in an informal analysis if the usage is consistent, however, so check with
your instructor.
3. Avoid summarizing the plot (i.e., retelling the story literally). Instead analyze
(form a thesis about and explain) the story in literary terms.
6. Do not confuse characters' (in fiction or drama) or speakers' (in poetry)
viewpoints with authors' viewpoints.
7. Support your points with many quotations and paraphrases, but write the
majority of your paper in your own words with your own ideas.
9. Cite prose, poetry, drama, critics, and any other sources used according to
specialized MLA standards. (See the current edition of the MLA Handbook for
Writers of Research Papers or your Writers Inc. books!.)
The following rules about parenthetical documentation can be found in
your Writers Inc books on page 260-263, but here are some highlights!
*Parenthetical references look like this:
“Sophomores are in need of more discipline”(Cohrs 44).
Note: *There is nothing in the parenthesis other than the last name of
the author and the page number. There is no punctuation of any
kind, the first name is not mentioned, etc.
*The period comes after the parenthesis. You do not need to
keep the punctuation within the quote unless it is a ? Or !.
*You should use parenthetical documentation for any type of
citation; either direct (word for word) or indirect (paraphrased).
Some other issues . . .
*If you end a quote before you end your sentence put the parenthesis at
the end of the sentence.
EX: “Studies show that Sophomores, while cute, can have a really nasty
bite” that may infect easily (Santerre 43).
So, why do we do this anyway?
*To give appropriate credit to a source of information.
*To use as a reference for the Works Cited Page that you will learn how
to develop appropriately.
*To learn how to incorporate citation information naturally within the
text rather than disrupting your paper.
Literary Criticism
Study, analysis, interpretation and history
of literature.
Most often found in essay form.
In-depth book reviews another form of
Examines an individual work of literature
or an author’s body of work
Why Use Literary Criticism?
Act of interpreting literature.
Authors present works that have multiple
Readers are expected to consider the
author’s work thoughtfully – to add
interpretations of their own.
Writers and critics create a dialog about the
literature -- build on each others’
understanding of the work.
Why Use Literary Criticism?
Noted authors often have a body of
criticism attached to their work.
Critics evaluate and debate ideas of fellow
Good criticism helps develop a better
understanding of the work.
Can develop a point of view about a work.
May not always agree with the critic’s
Locating Criticism
Journals, Magazines, and Newspapers
Journals, Magazines, and
The following can be accessed through
databases in the library or at home with a
New York Times (accessed through
GALE: Contemporary Authors & Contemporary
Literary Criticism -- Biography and literary
criticism on more than 120,000 U.S. and
international authors. (Accessed with public
library card through home access on any public
library site.) Grinnell Public Library
GALE: Twayne's Authors Series --Biography and
literary criticism on more than 600 world authors.
(Accessed through RCK library databases in
Opinions supported by evidence,
relating to:
Technical qualities of the writing (artistry, style, use of
Complex ideas and problems
Relationship of work to the time, social, historical or
political trends
Getting the most points on
your Literary Analysis Paper
Read the Directions Carefully
You must chose two works by different authors that
have significant similarities as well as differences.
Only one for Othello or The Great Gatsby
As part of the assignment, you will quote from the
primary text as well as include research from
outside sources
a minimum of 3 outside sources is required.
Choose how you are going to analyze the two
works you have chosen
#1 - choose a specific literary concept
#2 – then choose three of the following points:
character, audience, theme, symbolism, and overall
message (what is the work saying compared to the
world, self, other text?).
Summary versus Analysis
A summary re-tells a story.
 An analysis examines the cause or effect of an
incident in the story, compares or contrasts 2
characters, explains how an event occurred etc…
Ex: Mary had a little lamb
Summary: Mary had a little lamb. It followed her to
school. No lambs were allowed in school. The
children laughed.
Analysis: one reason Mary may have brought the
lamb to school was to get attention. All the children
“laughed and played”, making Mary feel at the
center and popular.
Title & Introduction
Clever Title
Interesting attention getter
Transition sentences that announce the two works
Thesis Statement + plan of development
Remember – the thesis is the LAST sentence in your
Body Paragraphs
Topic sentence with transition
Main points need to be supported by quotes from the
two primary works and outside sources
Clear illustration how the quote supports your point
Using quotes in an Essay
Using a quote requires 3 sentences
1. Your Idea
2. Quote
3. Explanation how quote supports your idea
Quote Examples
My Idea
 Mary appears to have a fetish for lamb wool
2. Quote
 Dr. Benton states that “ Mary’s proclivity for her
lamb makes her pet it often and bring it with her.”
(Benton 22)
3. Explanation of how quote supports my idea.
 Mary’s constant need to touch and stroke her lamb
illustrates Mary’s obsession.
Restate your thesis in different words
Tells what you’ve learned by analyzing the two
What did you learn about poetry, short stories and
Creating Your
Works Cited Page
What is a Works Cited page?
An alphabetized list of all the sources used
in your paper.
You need a Works Cited page or you are
1. Determine the type of source.
Your literature book is an anthology. An
anthology is a collection of artistic works
(such as a group of short stories, or a group
of songs).
Identify the 6 pieces of information needed.
1. Author of the selection
2. Title of the selection
3. Title of the anthology
4. Editor of the anthology
5. Publication information
6. Page numbers of selection
Every quotation should have a reference
that indicates where you got it.
I shall not see on earth a place more dear”
Line #:
Anytime you quote something, you need to
give the author’s name and the page
number the quotation can be found on.
Example- Potok 78
If you are quoting poetry, use the line
number instead of the page number.
Example- Homer lines 68-70
Type line or lines so
readers know you are
not referring to the
page number
The author’s last name and page number go after
the quotation inside of parentheses. This is
called the QUO-PAR-PUNC rule.
“I shall not see on earth a place more dear”
(Homer line 137).
quotation parentheses punctuation
(See page 128-135 of A Pocket Style Manual)
You wouldn’t wear clothes that only cover
up the front-side or the back-side of your
body, so don’t leave your quotation half
naked either.
Odysseus speaks to Alcinous’ court about
his homeland in Ithaca, recalling,
“I shall not see on earth a place more
dear” (Homer line 137).
Thus, he demonstrates the Greek
value of loyalty to one’s homeland.
Clothe the Front
There are two ways to
begin a sentence that
includes a quotation.
Use a signal phrase.
Integrate the author’s words into your own
Signal Phrases
A signal phrase indicates that you are
about to use language that is not your
Signal Phrases
If you do not show that these
are not your own words it is
Signal Phrases
 Polyphemus says of Odysseus,
(See page 120 of A Pocket Style Manual for a list of verbs to use
in signal phrases)
Example 1
 Odysseus shows that he is an epic hero
in the Cyclops episode, “I would not
heed them in my glorying spirit,/ but
let my anger flare…” (Homer lines
Just adding a quotation to
the end of a related
sentence does not mean
that you have used a
signal phrase.
Example 1
 Odysseus reveals that he desires the
credit for his deeds, saying, “I would
not heed them in my glorying spirit,/
but let my anger flare…” (Homer lines
Be sure that you do not confuse
the author, Homer, with the
narrator, who is sometimes
Homer, sometimes Odysseus.
Example 2
 Homer shows that Odysseus is an epic
hero by saying, “I drove them, all three
wailing, to the ships…” (line 211).
Example 2
 Odysseus shows his loyalty to his
homeland by forcing his men to
continue on their journey. He
explains, “I drove them, all three
wailing, to the ships…” (line 211).
Example 3
 Odysseus cleverly deceives the
Cyclops. “My name is Nohbody…”
(Homer line 360).
Example 3
 Odysseus cleverly deceives the
Cyclops, declaring, “My name is
Nohbody…” (Homer line 360).
Example 4
 “…make fair sacrifice to Lord Poseidon”
(Homer line 650). With these words,
Teiresias helps Odysseus to see that it has
been his pride that has kept him from
returning home, and he must admit his
mistake to Poseidon in order to right the
Example 4
Teiresias confirms that Odysseus’ pride has
kept him from Ithaca, commanding him,
“…make fair sacrifice to Lord Poseidon”
(Homer line 650). Thus Teiresias reveals that
the only way for Odysseus to reestablish right
standing with the gods is to finally
acknowledge Poseidon’s help in the Trojan
Signal phrases must introduce your
quote. You are not writing a
mystery story—don’t make the
reader guess where your quote
came from.
Integrate the Author’s Words
If you choose to
incorporate the author’s
words into your sentence,
the result must be
grammatically correct.
Example 5
 Odysseus’ sacrifice to Poseidon is the last
task he must accomplish before his world is
set right again, “Then a seaborne death/
soft as this hand of mist will come upon
you/ when you are wearied out with rich
old age” (Homer lines 654-656).
Example 5
 Odysseus’ sacrifice to Poseidon is the last
task he must accomplish before a peaceful
“seaborne death/ soft as this hand of mist
will come upon [him]” (Homer lines 654655).
Example 6
 The sirens tempt Odysseus, “The voices in
ardor appealing over the water” (Homer
Example 6
 The sirens’ “voices in ardor appealing over
the water” (Homer 752) tempt Odysseus,
leading him to beg his men to be untied.
Example 7
The sirens’ “voices in ardor appealing over
the water” (Homer 752) tempt Odysseus,
leading him to beg his men to be untied.
Example 7
The sirens’ “voices in ardor appealing over
the water” (Homer 752) tempt Odysseus,
leading him to beg his men to be untied.
As an epic hero, Odysseus never fails to
succumb to temptation by women, even
that of the monstrous sirens.
Example 8
Odysseus’ sacrifice to Poseidon is the last
task he must accomplish before a peaceful
“seaborne death/ soft as this hand of mist
will come upon [him]” (Homer lines 654655). In this way, Odysseus finally
accomplishes his goal of returning home to
live happily in Ithaca with his family.
Do Not Refer to the
Other than naked quotations,
the most common mistake is
referring directly to the
Do Not Refer to the
Teiresias predicts the end of Odysseus’ life
in the quote: “seaborne death/ soft as this
hand of mist will come upon [him]”
(Homer lines 654-655).
Do Not Refer to the
Odysseus cleverly deceives the
Cyclops, declaring, “My name is
Nohbody…” (Homer line 360). This
quotation reveals that Odysseus uses
intelligence in situations wherein
strength is not an option.
For Future Reference…
 Quote
is a verb
 Quotation is a noun
1.What is the American Dream? How does Gatsby represent this dream? Does the novel praise or
condemn Gatsby's dream? Has the American dream changed since Gatsby's time?
2. Think about the two worlds, the Midwest and the East, as Fitzgerald describes them, and what
they represent for Nick and for Gatsby.
3. Compare and contrast Gatsby's social class with that of Tom and Daisy Buchanan. How does
geography contribute to the definition of social class in The Great Gatsby?
4. What is Nick Carraway's role in the novel? Consider Nick's father's advice in chapter one:
"Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't
had the advantages that you've had." Does telling the story from Nick's point of view make it more
5. What part of his past is Gatsby trying to recapture? Is he successful? Is there a person, feeling, or
event in your past that you'd want to revisit?
6. What is the meaning of the title? In what way is Gatsby great?
7. Why did Nick become involved with Jordan, and why did he break off the relationship?
8. Discuss Fitzgerald's use of symbols, such as the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, the green light on
Daisy's dock, and the valley of ashes.
9. What makes The Great Gatsby a classic novel? Why has it maintained its place in American
10. Discuss elements of the Jazz Age that Fitzgerald includes in The Great Gatsby.
1. In what sense is The Great Gatsby an autobiographical novel?
Does Fitzgerald write more of himself into the character of Nick or
the character of Gatsby, or are the author’s qualities found in both
2. How does Gatsby represent the American dream? What does the
novel have to say about the condition of the American dream in the
1920s? In what ways do the themes of dreams, wealth, and time relate
to each other in the novel’s exploration of the idea of America?
3. Compare and contrast Gatsby and Tom. How are they alike? How
are they different? Given the extremely negative light in which Tom
is portrayed throughout the novel, why might Daisy choose to remain
with him instead of leaving him for Gatsby?
1. Discuss Gatsby’s character as Nick perceives him
throughout the novel. What makes Gatsby “great”?
2. What is Nick like as a narrator? Is he a reliable
storyteller, or does his version of events seem suspect?
How do his qualities as a character affect his narration?
3. What are some of The Great Gatsby’s most important
symbols? What does the novel have to say about the role
of symbols in life?
4. How does the geography of the novel dictate its themes
and characters? What role does setting play in The Great

Short Story Literary Analysis