Literature course work is time consuming because of the amount of reading required during a semester. Add to that the inevitable literature essay assignment, at least one for each piece read, and the amount of work can be overwhelming. Writing a literature essay requires careful analysis of the literature essay questions since the structure, content, and format depend on the topic to be addressed.
The Book Review
Occasionally, there will be a list of “outside” reading and students will select one or more books to read and review. Generally, the professor will provide specific items to be included in the book review that will certainly go far beyond a simple summary of the work. The wise student will carefully analyze the literature essay questions and focus only on those questions. No instructor likes to read extemporaneous content.
Typical book review questions relate to characterization, comparison/contrast of major characters, theme(s) discussions, and perhaps, tone and style. Rarely will a student be asked to simply provide a plot summary since the instructor wants to see that some reflection has occurred and that there is an understanding of the author’s purpose(s).
Other Literature Essay Assignments
In a literature course, many works are studied as a class and there will be assignments for writing a literature essay that may be of many types and formats. For instance, an English literature essay on “Hamlet may require an analysis of the main character’s fatal flaw which is to be demonstrated through events and specific words, actions, and thoughts of Hamlet himself. Another English literature essay may require an analysis of the themes found in Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. Therefore, it is absolutely important that the students fully understand the nature of the literature essay before determining the structure.
Common Elements of the Literature Essay
Whether one is writing a critical analysis, a characterization, a comparison of two characters or works, or a discussion of themes, there is still a common essay format that must be utilized. Once the literature essay questions are understood, the writer must organize his/her thoughts on the matter and develop a thesis. Then, the points to be made must be organized in a coherent manner so that the flow of the final essay will be smooth. Quotations must be properly inserted.
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