Elements of a Literary Analysis

In order to know what to look for in a text before you write your literary analysis , you need to know your literary terms. Knowing your terms will be beneficial to you, so you can consider what you want to discuss in your essay. Below are literary elements to choose from when writing your literary analysis.

Literary Elements:

Theme – The message/es explored throughout a - is the atmosphere of the story. The reader de- work of . termines the feel of the story.

Motifs -- Repeated patterns in the story, particularly Types of Elements the symbolic. Certain elements have extensions within them. Here are a list of those types of elements. – The arrangement of events; consider chronol- ogy or use of /. TYPES OF PLOT: – The opening of the story that sets up – The time and place (or when and where) the characters, setting, (time and place), and basic of the story. It can be time period, location, the time information in introduced. of day, the season, the weather, the type of room or – The struggles between oppos- building. Three types of setting to keep in mind are ing forces. It can be external: person vs. person, per- Physical, Historical, and Atmospheric. son vs. person vs. nature, person vs. society, person vs. technology, person vs. supernatural. It can be in- – is a person, animal, being, creature in a ternal: person vs. self. story. use characters to perform the ac- tions and speak dialogue, moving the story along Rising – The main character faces a series of a plot line. Examples: Protagonist, conflicts.

Characterization - is a ’s process used to de- Crisis – A significant turning point in the story that velop their characters throughout the story. The au- determines how it must end. thor uses details to teach us about a character. This is used over the course of a story in order to tell the – The highest point of tension or in a tale. There are two types of , ’ plot. Often climax is also when the main Direct and Indirect. problem of the story is faced and solved by the main character or protagonist. Point of view – The vantage point from which the story is told. Who is telling the story? There are three Falling Action – The story begins to slow down and points of view a story can be told from, First-person, work towards its end, tying up loose ends. Second-person, and Third-person. Resolution/Denouement – The conclusion of the – Refers to word choice and phrasing in any story’s plot. written or spoken text. There are two types of diction: Formal and Informal. TYPES OF SETTING:

Denotation- Dictionary definition of a word. Some- Physical - The place where the story occurs. Ex. times a word can have multiple definitions. Consider The setting of Trifles takes place in a farmhouse. the way the word is used in context to the story. Historical - The time period in history that either sur- Connotation - Feelings and images associated with rounds the story. Ex: The Yellow Wallpaper takes a word or phrase. place around the nineteenth century, which is im- portant to why the protagonist is treated a certain – is the author’s attitude towards the subject way by her husband. they are writing about. This handout was created using literaryterms.com and literarydevices.com San Antonio College Writing Center | Gonzales Hall 203 | 210-486-1433 July 2020

Atmospheric - The feeling, emotion, or mood that an Third-person: The narrator is describing what’s author creates in a narrative through descriptive lan- seen, but as a spectator. If the narrator is a character guage. in the story, then we are reading what he or she ob- serves as the story unfolds. The story can be told TYPES OF CHARACTER: from an omniscient (all-knowing) narrator who doesn’t interact in the events, or a limited omniscient Protagonist – This is the main character, around character who knows only one other person’s which the whole story revolves. thoughts or feelings, or character who has a limited perspective of the events unfolding. Antagonist – This character, or group of char-acters, causes the conflict for the protagonist. The antagonist TYPES OF DICTION- could be the protagonist, who is torn by a problem Formal- Involves choosing words that are polite and within. proper. Formal language is often filled with descrip- tive words that are quite precise, and sentences may – Opposite character traits from another, char- be longer. acter meant to help highlight or bring out another’s positive or negative side. Informal- Generally uses shorter words. Sentences may be incomplete or ignore some finer points of Static – Do not change throughout the story. A ma- grammar and usage. jor character can remain static through the whole story. Here is a list of literary devices to consider when Dynamic – Changes throughout the story. They may analyzing your essay. learn a lesson, become bad, or change in complex ways. – The use of symbols to signify ideas Flat – Has one or two traits, usually only all positive and qualities, by giving them symbolic meanings that or negative. They are the opposite of a round char- are different from their literal sense. Symbols can be acter. The flaw or strength has its use in the story. universal, conventional, and con textual.

Round – Opposite of the flat character. Characters Figurative Language – Used to describe someone have many different traits, good and bad, making or something by comparing to another or using words them more interesting. for that do not have a literal meaning. Ex- amples: and Simile. TYPES OF CHARACTERIZATION: – Evokes the five senses. What does the Direct: The author explicitly tells the what character or narrator make the reader touch, see, he or she wants you to know about the character. hear, feel, smell, taste?

Indirect: The reader makes inferences about a char- Extensions of Literary Devices: The following are acter based on their actions, thoughts, personality, extensions of literary devices you can use throughout and emotional affect on other characters. There are your essay. five types of Indirect characterization: Speech, Thoughts, Effect on others, Actions, and Looks. TYPES OF SYMBOLS:

TYPES OF POINT OF VIEW: Universal – A word or object that most every-one agrees on the meaning. First-person: The story is told through the eyes of the character telling the story. Conventional - Widely recognized by a society or culture. Ex: Christian cross, the Star of Da-vid, a Second-person: The narrator is speaking to you. swastika, or a nation’s flag. This is seen mostly in poems, speeches, instructional writing, and persuasive articles. Contextual - A word or object that stands for some- thing else just in the story or situation.

This handout was created using literaryterms.com and literarydevices.com San Antonio College Writing Center | Gonzales Hall 203 | 210-486-1433 July 2020

Personification - A thing- an idea or an animal – is given human attributes. Example: “I find it hovering TYPES OF FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE: in the dining-room, skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall, lying in wait for me on the stairs.” – “The Yellow Metaphor - Makes a comparison of two unrelated Wallpaper” things often using “is.” Example: But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Ju- : The characters are representative of some liet is the sun. – The Tragedy of . larger humanistic trait and attempt to convey some larger lesson or meaning in life. Simile - Makes a comparison of two unrelated things to show common quality between them using “like” or Allusion – A reference to something in history, cul- “as.” Example, “She smiles like the sun” ture, or literature (especially historical).

This handout was created using literaryterms.com and literarydevices.com San Antonio College Writing Center | Gonzales Hall 203 | 210-486-1433 July 2020