The Analysis: A Quick Guide

The Analysis: A Quick Guide
What makes for a good analysis paper?
An argument: When you write an analysis essay, often one requiring research (analytical
essay) or textual support (literary analysis), you are essentially arguing that your perspective–an
interpretation, an evaluative judgment, or a critical evaluation–is a valid one.
In this way an analysis moves beyond summary; while you are required to provide a recap of
the essay, article, or literary text, the focus of the paper is your “reading” or evaluation of the
text. That is, after you briefly summarize it, you must say something smart about it and
then use substantial textual evidence or support to prove it.
What do you need?
A debatable thesis statement: Like any argument paper, you must have a specific, detailed
thesis statement that reveals a perspective, and, like any good argument, that perspective must
be one that is debatable.
You would not want to make an argument of this sort:
Zombieland is a movie about the zombie apocalypse.
That doesn’t say anything–it’s basically just a summary and is hardly
debatable. A better thesis would be this:
Zombieland reveals society’s anxieties about mindless consumerism.
Here are some additional examples:
A. Fact: Facebook and other social networking sites have both good and bad qualities.
Analysis: While social networking sites admittedly have destructive dangers like cyberbullying
and identity theft, they have become crucial in mobilizing the public for service-learning projects
and social and political protest campaigns.
B. Summary: Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” is a satire that argues that the answer to
the Irish plight of starvation and poverty in 1729 is to sell the starving children of Ireland as
high-end food to the rich landowners.
Analysis: Swift’s satirical device in “A Modest Proposal” forces readers to critically examine the
inexcusable failures of both England and the Irish poor.
C. Fact: Twilight is one of the most popular young adult novels for its exciting portrayal of love
and fantasy.
Analysis: While an entertaining love story, Twilight’s messages of race, class, and gender
disparity are concerning.*
*Notice that all of these examples are objective. While you are arguing for your interpretation or evaluation, no
“I” statements are used in traditional analysis essays.