How Writing a Literary Analysis is Like Juggling Plates Writing a literary analysis essay is a bit like juggling your plates before you set the table. You have to keep a number of related ideas in the air at once (mentally), not losing track of any of those ideas before finally setting them down on the table in some organized fashion. Plate 1 – The Prompt (Highlight key words in the prompt!) Literary Analysis Prompt The story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut as well as the poem “Sympathy” by Paul Dunbar explores the theme of what it feels like to be trapped or limited by outside forces, and the consequences that follow as a result of that entrapment. Analyze how the author of each text develops this theme. Plates 2 & 3 – The Texts We have just read the texts for this literary analysis task – the short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut and the poem “Sympathy” by Paul L. Dunbar. We have determined a common theme for each, and identified in each text three examples of textual evidence that supports that theme. Now, let’s write that textual evidence (TE) in the chart below for each story. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------BUT FIRST KNOW THIS… You have two choices when it comes to recording TE in your essay. 1. For shorter TE: Write the evidence exactly as it appears in the text. Place quotation marks around the text selection. 2. For longer TE: Paraphrase what the text says. Paraphrasing involves rephrasing the text or interpreting the text in a more abbreviated way. FIND THE RIGHT WORDS TO GET STARTED… Introduce or explain TE using these transition words and sentence starters: According to… When the author/poet says… In this part… This means… This is evidence of… Here the author/poet is saying… An example of… Evidence of this includes… The reason the author/poet says this… The texts says… The author/poets means… For example… This proves… This shows how… Sympathy Harrison Bergeron TE #1 TE #1 TE #2 TE #2 TE #3 TE #3 Plate 4 – Thinking About My Thinking Now, we have to ask ourselves this: What writing techniques did Dunbar and Vonnegut use that caused us to recognize this evidence? Ideas might include the following: Figurative language Symbolism Descriptive language Sensory details Setting Points of view Character development Choose 3 from the list above that best apply to each text. You may choose the same techniques for both texts. Sympathy Harrison Bergeron Plate 5 – My Thesis Now let’s use language from the prompt to write our thesis statement. Remember a thesis statement t offers a concise, or brief, summary of the main point or claim of the essay. A thesis statement is usually one sentence that appears at the end of the first paragraph, though it may occur as more than one. The thesis statement is developed, supported, and explained in the course of the paper by examples and evidence from, in this case, the texts you’ve just read. Plate 6 – The Essay Now it’s a matter of putting the essay together. You have your thesis. You have your textual evidence to answer the prompt. All that’s left to do is write. Use the following paragraph structure to help you make this happen. Paragraph 1: Introduction to include: o Titles of the stories o The theme (restated from prompt) o The task (analysis) o The thesis Example: In the texts “Harrison Bergeron” and “Sympathy” the authors explore the theme of feeling limited or trapped by outside forces. An analysis of each text will show how the authors develop this theme of entrapment and the related consequences that follow. Paragraph 2: Evidence from TEXT 1 to support theme o At least 3 supporting details from your analysis of characters, setting, and plot (from your evidence chart) Example: In the story “Harrison Bergeron” the author shows the entrapment of many characters, including Harrison and his parents. One way the characters are trapped or limited is… Another way is when…Finally, the author shows entrapment when…The consequences of all of these limitations is… Paragraph 3: Evidence from TEXT 2 to support theme At least 3 supporting details from your analysis of characters, setting, and plot (from your evidence chart) Concluding sentence Example: Use the Example for Paragraph 2, and add a concluding sentence that reflects on your thesis statement from Paragraph 1. Your concluding sentence might sound something like this: In conclusion, after analyzing each text, readers are able to see how Vonnegut and Dunbar express the same theme – what it feels like to be limited by outside forces and the tragic consequences that are a result of this limitation.