Literature is more than just old stories or words from the past. There is an art to be appreciated, and as soon as this art is seen, analyzing it becomes a world easier.

First of all, when writing an essay about a work of literature, it is important to follow your teacher’s instructions and rubric so you know how to approach the assignment. For example, the teacher may want you to write about how repetition in a poem shapes the poem as a whole.

literature review assignment

If you have to analyze literature by literary devices, remember that authors use them to emphasize something in their writing. For example, a book with lots of symbolism can show the character is missing something or feels incomplete. Notice the constant use of literary devices such as repetition, foreshadowing, hyperbole, imagery, metaphor, detail, and allegory, then determine what the constant use of this literary device says about the story or its characters.

If there are not many instructions provided as to how you should write the essay, then you can put your own angle on it. If you are reading a book about the 1920s, for example, you could review the book by emphasizing how social status creates self-worth within the characters. Or, you could explain how gender empowers or weakens the opportunities of others.

Whatever angle you choose, you must have a strong thesis that explains your position. A thesis is your literary analysis fits into one single statement. The rest of your essay must be in agreement with this statement, backing it up with quotes from the book. A thesis could be something like “the author highlights that in order to be recognized as great, one must work hard in their lifetime.”

A good essay form to use while constructing your literary review assignment is this:

Paragraph 1: Say what book/ poem/ play you are analyzing and who it’s from, give a brief summary in 2-3 sentences, and present your thesis statement.

Body Paragraphs: Use these paragraphs to explain your thesis. It is not so much of saying what you believe but rather inserting ideas and quotes presented in the novel and explaining them to support that your thesis is correct. A simple analysis in 4 easy sentences can be as follows: 1 mention a scene or story in the novel. 2 quote something word-for-word from that scene. 3 explain the quote. 4 explain how the quote or experience supports your thesis.

Conclusion paragraph: Re-state your thesis in different words. Usually, no new information or stories are added in this paragraph. You can also explain what the thesis means for broader use, like further applications in today’s time.

There are several things that can be analyzed in order to complete a literature review assignment in high school, so here are a couple of tips:

See the story as a whole: The piece of literature should connect as a whole, and as you realize this connection or common theme you can better analyze the story. For example, does the story constantly talk about feeling guilty for hurting someone’s feelings? Take note of this as it is a theme in the book to be analyzed.

Take notes as you read: You can annotate your copy of the book to better catch themes presented and major ideas are given throughout.

As you analyze literature, you can find the message that an author left to his readers, and the story becomes much more engaging and alive.