How to Write an Introduction for a Literary Analysis Essay
A literary analysis essay explains the significance of a specific aspect of a literary work. Literary analyses are scholarly essays and should be written more conservatively than other types of essays. An introduction for a literary analysis should provide relevant information about the work of literature, include a thesis statement and orientate the reader to what will follow.
Start out with a clear topic. The topic should be an interpretation of a specific aspect of a work of literature, such as racism in "To Kill a Mockingbird" or foreshadowing in "Lord of the Flies." Understanding what you are writing about is vital to writing a good introduction and essay.
State the title and author of the literary work in the first sentence. This is essential so that the reader knows which poem, short story or novel you are discussing. Do not start out discussing characters before telling the reader in which work of literature they appear.
Hook the reader in the first sentence, just as you would in any other essay. What is something interesting about the work that you can tell the reader in the first line? The piece of interesting information must also be relevant to the topic and to the literary element being discussed.
Assume that the reader has read and is familiar with the work of literature that you are writing about. Keeping this in mind will stop you from including too much plot summary in the introduction and the rest of the essay.
Make clear what it is you are analyzing in the essay. Explain a bit about this aspect in the introduction so that the reader is clear about what is being analyzed.
Do not start analyzing the work. Acquaint the reader with what will be analyzed, but save the actual analyzing for the body.
State the thesis in the last sentence of the introduction. The thesis should clearly state what the essay will analyze and should be very specific. It also must argue something. For example: "Although Harper Lee has been criticized for being too sympathetic of white racists in 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' her honest portrayal of the setting has aided anti-racism efforts."
Use transitions throughout the introduction. Because there are so many things that have to be included, the introduction can end up a clump of sentences stuck together. Make sure that it makes sense on its own as a paragraph.