In this task, you will write a literary analysis essay (1,000−1,200 words) that explores a specific idea or aspect of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Ensure that you state the thesis (or argument) of your essay clearly and that the thesis presents a unique or original interpretation of the play.
Before you start crafting your essay, recall that a literary analysis is a type of argument. A debatable claim is proposed and then supported with evidence from the text.
A literary analysis is used to interpret and analyse a text and not to just offer an opinion. When you write a literary analysis, it helps to develop your critical reading skills by analysing and interpreting the work. The thesis or central argument should be discussed throughout the paper. The argument must be adequately supported with evidence from the text.
You may want to look at web sources for help on crafting your essay, such as this discussion of writing about literature. Please follow the steps in the Process section below as you plan and write your literary analysis paper.
Follow the steps below to complete your essay, and use the links provided to assist with your research and writing.
Before creating your thesis, begin gathering additional sources to build your argument and support your thesis. For each source, consider the following questions:
Reading and evaluating sources
Next, examine each source and think about how you will use it to support a thesis. Be an active researcher by asking the following questions about each source you reference:
Developing your thesis statement
Now that you have analysed sources to use as evidence, revisit the essay question. Then develop your thesis statement.
If you need additional guidance, many writing resources are available to help you create a strong thesis statement.
Forming your argument
Once you have a clear, strong thesis statement, develop your argument. Make a particular effort to match the evidence in your sources to the points in your argument.
Drafting your essay
As you write your paper, use quotations from and summaries of your sources to support your argument. Be careful to keep the following ideas in mind:
The following notes will provide detailed instructions and additional context for this specific essay.
Choosing a focus and topic
Recall that the fundamental purpose of this analytical essay is to explain your understanding or interpretation of Romeo and Juliet. The analytical essay should explain how the drama conveys meaning and examine how one or more elements contribute to the meaning of the drama.
From the following list of elements of drama, choose one or two that you will focus on for your essay about Romeo and Juliet:
After you select the elements that you will focus on for your essay, brainstorm some potential topics. Choose a topic that is based on your interpretation of the work. Some examples of questions to consider during the planning phase of your essay include the following:
While writing the essay, refer to at least one secondary source (such as a critical or literary analysis from an author, scholar, or expert) that supports your argument about the play. You can find this type of analysis in your school or local library using an online tool such as Google Scholar or doing your own online searching. However, look closely at the source that you find to make sure that it is written by an expert with credentials and not by another student fulfilling a similar assignment.
Drafting a thesis
Construct a thesis, which can be refined as the paper progresses. The thesis should be specific, covering only what will be discussed in your essay. Your thesis should also be debatable and capable of being supported with evidence from the text.
Outlining your paper
Then, develop an outline—a plan of organisation to use while drafting your essay. Each paragraph should contain an idea that helps explain the thesis. Each idea should be supported with textual evidence in the form of a summary, paraphrase, or direct quotation.
Drafting the essay
After you’ve developed your outline and gathered the evidence, consider these points while writing: