What Does A Literary Essay Mean: A Brief Introduction For Newbies


What’s an essay? It’s a short composition that you write on your own, dedicated to a certain topic, idea, or a subject. Schoolchildren start composing their first projects beginning in the earliest years. They begin with simple matters like descriptions of situations: summer holidays, their pets, etc. Growing older, children start writing research projects that demand argumentation for their point of view, persuasion or illustration.

In all essays, regardless of their type, there is a thesis, an idea that you defend. This idea makes literary essays different from simple narrative reports. Composing a thesis is very important because this is how you introduce an idea to readers.

What is a literary essay? Why is it different from all others? A literary essay is different from all other ones due to the fact that it’s dedicated to something involving literature: a character, plot, etc. It’s different from all other research papers because all of its parts are dedicated to literature. In every other aspect, it’s like all other research projects.

The structure of a literary essay is as follows:

  1. An intro.
  2. A short piece of meaningful information that gives readers an idea of what you are going to discuss in your work. It’s great if the intro contains a thesis statement: a short but informative phrase that explains your point of view and prepares readers for the direction of your paper. As a rule, an intro also contains a hook, something that catches the attention of your readers.

  3. Body paragraphs.
  4. Depending on how many arguments you have, the number of body paragraphs can vary from three to more. It’s not good if your paper consists of less than three body paragraphs. It means that your point of view is based on too little supporting facts. In the body paragraphs, you explain your opinion regarding the piece of researched literature, anticipate opposite points of view, and prove that your thesis is correct. Don’t forget to use quotes from the text to support your conclusions.

  5. Conclusions.
  6. The ending part of the literary essay is practically the same as the introduction. The intro, however, establishes a goal, names a certain phenomenon in literature, while the conclusion concludes that it’s really a phenomenon and an important one.

    Note: works of literature are normally researched by numerous scholars, so you should use their works only with appropriate footnotes and citations. This is how you will avoid plagiarism charges.