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Literary essay is not a book review. It is also not a short story. It is interpretation of a literary work written in the ambit of a standard essay structure in your own words. Term of reference is provided by your teacher within which you have to develop your literary essay. However, there are some general guidelines which shall assist you to navigate your literary essay to its logical spread.
The first and the foremost tip is that you must write the literary essay in the present tense. You should never write it in past tense. For example, you should write “In Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘2061: Odyssey Three,’ even apart from that embarrassing accident, the return to Earth has not been easy” and you shall never write the original text in the book,” Even apart from that embarrassing accident, the return to Earth had not been easy.”
You must not put yourself into the analysis. You have to write the literary essay in the third person, never adapting to the first or second person unless specifically asked by your instructor.
As forewarned earlier, a literary essay is neither a summary of a book, a book review nor a story retold in your words. You have to state a definite thesis and follow it with supportive arguments and examples quoting sources and information always with perfect citation and factual referencing.
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You shall have to extract information or discussion from the plot of the literary work for writing your literary essay. You shall have to use such information to support your thesis and present arguments. If you are writing literary essay on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Telltale Heart”, you might assert that narrator is not of sound mental health or is mentally challenged. To support this argument, you may quote that the narrator said that he could hear “all things in the heaven and in the earth”.
Such an approach is acclaimed as professional. Readers accept you as a person having knowledge in literature. You should refrain from writing that people are very much like animals by giving examples of certain characteristics of animals identical to that of human. You should rather say that there are certain images and symbols in the piece that reveal animal nature in human. The second approach is more near to sensible literature.
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