Textual Analysis Essay - Read, Grasp and Analyze
One of the most significant and substantial traits that every student must possess is a knack for analyzing. It is basically what college is about: learning to perceive and process information on the go. College professors assign you tasks that are meant to develop your analytical, writing and conceptual skills. One of such assignments is a textual analysis essay, also known as literary analysis essay. The point of it is precisely what the name implies - the analysis of a certain piece of text. But, do you know how to write a textual analysis essay? Not all students have the required set of skills. It may not be easy for every scholar to master the task of writing a textual analysis. And if by any chance, you are among them, we are here to help you out. Our professional team have been performing all kinds of writings for years now. And today we want to help you figure out how to write a textual analysis, understand its definition and purpose, and learn all the ins and outs. Let's begin!
What is a Textual Analysis Essay? Let's Find Out!
In order to understand how to go about the writing, you need to grasp the textual analysis definition first. Like mentioned before, the name explains itself. You are presented with an extract or the entirety of a piece of writing, be it a novel, a short story, an article, or something else falling under the "text" category. Textual analysis essays are papers that break down the whole given body of the written work, fractionate it as a whole and as an assembly of a few different parts, and explain the meaning or intent behind them. Sounds a tad too complicated, doesn't it? Well, that's what you get when you apply to college - a lot of unnecessarily fancy words and sleep deprivation. Basically, you need to write a fully detailed study, highlighting strong and weak points and making conclusions based on text references. It is, after all, an analysis. So, if you understand now what is a textual analysis essay, you are prepared to take on the task of the text inspector.
Textual Analysis Essay Structure - What Goes Where
The first thing you need to do is, of course, pick a text you're planning on analyzing. In most cases, the assigner provides you with one right away, but sometimes you need to choose it yourself. Proceed carefully and don't make a mistake of overestimating your abilities. Choose something that is easy for you to understand, and therefore, easier to write about. Try finding as many sources as you can. Of course, all the analyzing must be done exclusively by you, but it's not prohibited to reference someone else's work when presenting examples.
One of the main secrets about how to write a good textual analysis is planning. By the way, it applies to any type of work: before starting anything, you need to make a plan in order to reach the maximum efficiency in your doings. Back to your task - first, put together the structure. Make a textual analysis essay outline. It will help you organize your thoughts. While writing an outline, you can see more clearly how your essay will look like. Getting the "big picture" of it all is a crucial stage of writing. Just like you're assembling Lego's with an outlined instruction, you need to build your essay from separate pieces. And to find those pieces - make a plan!
The introduction section
The introduction of textual analysis is, in a way, the most important part of the paper. If the intro "hooks" the reader, they will proceed with examining your essay further. Yes, you are writing it for your professor, but every college assignment should be regarded as one up for the nationwide publishing. It gives you a better understanding of its significance. So, try your best to catch the reader's attention. For instance, you can add an epigraph with a quote from a book you're compiling an analysis on. The introduction part needs to establish the theme of your essay, and explain why it is important to investigate it. Once again, your topic must be something you are interested in, intrigued by, or feel the need for a discussion. After you've done that, proceed to make your thesis statement. It is desirable, although not necessarily, for your thesis statement to be the last sentence of the introduction section. After that, it's all about convincing your reader in the main body.
A little tip: write your introduction when the rest of the essay is done. It seems strange, but composing the main part first will help you see all the major points you need to mention at the beginning.
Let us provide you with an example of an introduction to a textual analysis essay on the Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.
"His flaring nostrils, his downcast eyes, gave to his implacable Greek profiles that expression of wrath and chastity which for the ancient world belonged to justice." ― Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
Victor Hugo's epic novel about the destinies of various societal outcasts is one of the most significant written works ever to exist. In it, the author portrays the human nature as a neutral state. People are born with neither good nor bad qualities, but they are shaped by the society and circumstances of their lives. The problematique of "nature vs. nurture" is as old as the literature itself, but in this essay, I would like to look more closely at the destiny of one particular character. Young revolutioner Enjolras. His story is made even more interesting in this discourse, for he was brought up as an aristocrat, but ended up on the barricades fighting to bring down the king. Enjolras' portrayal by Hugo was clearly intended as a re-establishing of the old archetype of Orestes in the new age.
As you can see, we've set the mood of the essay and added our thesis statement at the end.
The main body
When you get to the part of the actual analysis, it's time to whip out a good old argumentative structure. In the textual analysis, you are required to provide a few examples regarding your thesis statement, following by the explanations and elaborations that prove the said statement to be true. Don't make them vague and subjective. Write short and on point. At this stage, you don't need to go into details. Prove in general terms - just why your statements are true. You'll get to the more thorough analysis later on.
Next step is to demonstrate your perception of the author's strategy. Describe how and what the author does to highlight something, bring attention to it, or deny it. Don't write about everything there is in the book, though. You only need to mention the points that connect directly to your thesis statement.
After that, it's time for our usual argument-example scheme. You need to have at least three paragraphs on this, as per usual. Here, you can go into as much detail as you want. Bring out the references to the text or some other sources to relate to your arguments. There's no restriction about using quotes straight from the text, but it is advisable to avoid them. Instead, you can reference the part you want to bring to attention.
After everything is done, look it over and make sure you didn't omit anything. The next part of the writing process is simultaneously the easiest and the hardest one.
The conclusion part
The textual analysis conclusion can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, you are already at the finish line, and you just need to summarize everything you've written in the central part. On the other hand, it can be hard to condense everything without repeating yourself a lot. Be careful and precise: go back to your thesis points and paraphrase them in a way that makes answers from them, not questions. Conclusively end your essay, and finish every thought you've started.
An Example of a Textual Analysis Outline
- Thesis StatementEnjolras' portrayal by Hugo was clearly intended as a re-establishing of the old archetype of Orestes in the new age.
- Topic SentenceThe destinies and characteristics of Enjolras and Orestes are paralleled through the ages.
- ExampleMeaning of the name Orestes is "one who can conquer mountains," which goes strongly in line with Enjolras' characteristics.According to the myth about Orestus, his destiny is to fight and be an avenger and a warrior, who is, however, doomed to fall before seeing his goal through. Enjolras is described as the passionate man who died fighting for the freedom but never saw said freedom coming to France.
- Two or three topic sentences with accompanying examples, written in the same fashion.
And that's how you go about writing a textual analysis. Of course, there are a lot of different methods that can help you with this task. But the one we provided is simple and accessible, so don't be shy and use it.
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