In this article, we are going to talk about objective analysis of a literary work. It is not just your opinion but also a complicated academic writing.
How to Analyze a Literary Work?
It is worth saying that an analysis of any piece of art is a very subjective thing. The profession of literary critic requires an ability to separate personal impressions and objective reality. However, often the opinions of both literary critics and readers are absolutely different. As a student, you probably had a task to write a review on a book or a movie. The review mostly consists of your own opinion, but the analysis is more complicated academic writing that requires objectivity. So is it possible to give an adequate assessment?
First, you need to know what must be assessed and how to analyze these elements. The world experience converges in understanding what exactly characterizes the literary work, what elements of the structure can be identified, what is important, and what is not so crucial. So, we offer you a pattern of how to analyze a literary work. For more useful articles, visit our website I want you to write it now
The correct recognition of a genre is the necessary step of an analysis of a literary work. There is a diversity of genres that have their own features and key elements. Let us focus on prose texts because it is the most spread type of texts in your college or university program.
It is necessary to take genre into account in the analysis so that the texts are not compared with other genres. The fantasy text should be compared with the science fiction, and the essay with the essay. They just have different rules and criteria. In the subgenre of “instruction,” lyrical digressions are not very appropriate, and in the genre of “essay,” they are quite welcome.
When analyzing a literary work, first of all, it is necessary to understand what topic it is devoted to and what the main idea is. The topic usually refers to the object of the text: situations, relationships, actions of heroes, etc. The idea reflects the goals and tasks that the author seeks to achieve by working on the text.
Other terms of the concept are problem and conflict. The problem is the question that the writer poses to the reader. The authors rarely formulate such a question directly, but they usually give an idea of how they see the answer. It is important to distinguish the concept of “problem” from the concept of “topic.” The topic is the answer to the question “what does the author write about?” For example, it is about love. The problem is the question, which the author is looking for. For example, what can a loving person sacrifice?
The problem is the essence of the conflict, in which the main character is involved. He/she can be opposed by another character, a group of characters, society in whole, or any other circumstances. It happens when the hero conflicts with his/her own essence. As a result, the hero either dies, or reconciles with circumstances, or wins. If after reading the text you clearly understand what it is about, what idea, problem and the conflict it has, then the author has a clear concept.
The genre must fit the concept. The story about the “horrors of the Holocaust” does not seem appropriate in the genre of “parody,” the genre of “satire” is hardly suitable for the children’s fairy tale about Santa.
The next level of analysis is composition. Here, first of all, you should analyze the plot. There are such components of a plot: an exposition, rising action, development, a climax, and the denouement.
The exposition in literary criticism usually refers to the part of the text that precedes the beginning of the main events. The exposition gives an initial description of the heroes, describes the circumstances of the place and time, shows the reasons that move the plot conflict.
A rising action is an event that triggers conflicts. For example, in the tragedy of William Shakespeare “Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark,” Hamlet meets a ghost. This is a rising action. It is one of the key moments of the plot. In literary criticism, development is often understood as the spatial-temporal dynamics of the story. In the process of the development, the tension grows until the culmination begins.
The climax in literary criticism is an event when the conflict reaches the maximum point and there is a clash between the parties of the conflict.
The denouement is the last part of the development of the conflict, where it comes to a logical conclusion. Then after the denouement, there may be an epilog. It tells about what happened beyond the plot.
The analysis of the composition also includes so-called non-narrative elements. They do not affect the plot. There are three types of them: descriptions, digressions and additional episodes. These elements should not break the dynamics of the plot; they can serve as an additional means of compositional expressiveness.
The image of the main character is the central component of the character system. Through the actions of the hero, his/her thoughts, feelings, and situations, in which the writer puts his/her character, the creative idea is transmitted. Therefore, the authors pay so much attention to the creation of expressive images.
The elements of the formation of the character’s image are a portrait, actions, attitude towards others, psychology, social context, his/her speech, and expressive details.
In the real life, people perceive up to 85% of information through visual images, so the perception of the character’s image depends largely on the quality of the literary portrait. The author’s assessment of the characters and their actions is also important. Literary analysis of the text should demonstrate the harmonious use of all components of the image. In a good text, all elements are interrelated. The portrait affects the understanding of the hero’s thoughts. His/her thoughts provide the basis for action. Actions form the attitude of society toward him/her. Thus, the memorable literary image is created.
The language of the literary text does not necessarily coincide with the “literary language.” In an ordinary oral speech, literary vocabulary is often combined with slang. Borders of spoken language are much wider. The author can make his/her own vocabulary. That is how the language of literature differs from the “literary” language. Every good writer has an individual language style. Loss of language identity means a loss of artistic quality.
Hence, after considering the genre of the text, selecting the concept, the composition, the images of the heroes, language, and stylistic features, we can make a substantiated conclusion about its good and bad sides. If all the elements create an organic piece of writing, then the text is good or, at least, it is well made. This, unfortunately, does not guarantee that the text will please you personally. It is a matter of taste. The book that will appreciated by everyone simply does not exist. However, try to be objective during the analysis and even if you do not like the plot, you may estimate the perfect language or suspense in the composition.