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Critical Analysis of Literature

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JOHNSON COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE Critical Analysis of Literature The process for writing a critical analysis of literature should be based on the instructor’s instructions, but generally you can follow these steps: I. Read the assignment carefully more than once. Look for the outstanding characteristics of the piece. II. Focus on some aspect of the literature: theme, character, conflict, style III. Incorporate the aspects not chosen as support for the focus. IV. When possible, use direct quoting from the book to support points made. V. Consider the following suggestions as a basis on which to develop the focus: A. Character 1. Compare/contrast to other literary characters, real people, or stereotypes. 2. Analyze the character through what he does (action), what he says, and what others say bout him. How is the character disclosed in the story? 3. Classify the character—put the character ina category and explain why. 4. Is the character true-to-life? That is, are the actions, statements do? B. Theme and thoughts what a real person in the same circumstances would 1. What is the theme and how did you come to this decision? 2. How is the theme supported? 3. Compare/contrast this theme with themes of other literary works. 4. Is the theme universal? Explain. C. Conflict 1. What is the conflict? 2. Is it a universal conflict? 1 Revised 1/25/05closure. 3. Who is/are the protagonist(s)? Who is/are the antagonist(s)? 4. How is the conflict resolved? 5. Is there a turning point or climax? 6. Do any of the characters change in the story? 7. Is there any comic relief? D. Style 1. Does the author use imagery? 3. Diction—Discuss the meaning of the words as related to the 2. Is there any symbolism? What is it? speaker’s background and state of mind. 4. Are there lengthy descriptive passages or does the author use action and dialogue for story movement? 5. Is there humor injected or comic relief to balance or off-set the drama? VI. Arrange or organize your paper in evaluative or descriptive (break-down) mode. A. realistic conflict, or universal theme. The introduction should be at least one paragraph. Make clear what the focus of your paper is. Set up your criteria, such as good character portrayal, B. The body of the paper will support the focus given in the introduction. Break up the aspects of the subject (character, theme, etc.) and discuss each element in a different paragraph, using specific examples from the literature. Be sure to use quotation marks around directly quoted material. C. The conclusion of the paper should reassert the focus and bring the paper to 2 Revised 1/25/05___ ___ ________ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ Evaluation Paragraph Checklist YES //NO ___ ___ 1. Chooses topic: limited focused appropriate significant addresses audience judged ___ ___ 7. Has an effective variety of sentence patterns and lengths ________ 9. Has used quotations appropriately and punctuated them correctly 6. Has a meaningful conclusive paragraph 8. Is proofread carefully 2. Sets the standards criteria by which the literary piece is being 3. Identifies the literary piece and acknowledges the author 4. Relates the criteria to the subject 5. Uses examples/illustrations to support points 3 Revised


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