An analysis essay is a response paper that demonstrates a student's response to one particular aspect of a text that she has read. Generally speaking, research is not necessary for this type of paper, and its length is typically less than four pages. The goal is to respond to the assigned story as concisely as possible using a single thesis or idea which focuses on some aspect of the work. Supporting arguments must be made to justify the point of the thesis, and quotations from the story are typically used in support of the objective.

Focusing on a Literary Topic

For analytical essays regarding stories or pieces of literature, it is wise to choose discipline-specific terms to discuss. Possible topics of focus could be characterization, plot, setting, imagery, structure, symbolism, point of view, theme, metaphor or tone. Each provides a range of topics for the writer to discuss. For example, if you choose to discuss characterization, your thesis might be that a particular character was flat, or one-dimensional. You could support your thesis by including quotations of text that show how predictable that character was within the world of the story.

Format Your Response

An essay of this type should be formatted in a standard three parts. Begin with an introduction. The introduction should be fairly brief. However, it should include the title and author of the assigned story as well as your thesis statement. The body should follow. This is the guts of your analysis. In this section you should address all the supporting arguments for your essay. Use examples from the text. You can paraphrase the original author, summarize events within the text and use direct quotations in support of your argument. It can also be helpful in the body to recognize and consider any opposing viewpoints to your thesis, making sure to redirect in favor of your own conclusion.

Concluding Your Essay

Once your introduction and body are complete, it is time to conclude your essay. In the conclusion, restate your thesis and explain why it was important. For example, a conclusion focusing on the relationship between the structure and characterization of Jenny Milchman's novel "Cover of Snow" might read: "This author takes what could have been a mundane stroll through a desperate wife's journey, and instead leads us on a wild ride full of plot twists and turns. Each moment is inextricably intertwined with the last to create a powerfully satisfying ending. The novel leaves us with a feeling of hope, an important quality after experiencing the trials and tribulations Nora endured. Milchman's commitment to structure and characterization prompt the reader to root for Nora through bittersweet tears when she learns of her pregnancy, realizing that a piece of Brendan will now always be with her."

Things to Keep in Mind

When your essay is finished, take a second look. Check to be sure you have accomplished the following: Thesis is clearly stated, supporting arguments are convincing, evidence from the text is included in the essay, there are no grammar or punctuation errors, present tense is used throughout the paper and citations are used when needed.