Analytical Essays Are Hard to Write

Students often have a hard time writing an analytical essay, because they aren’t really sure how to write this kind of paper, or even what an analytical essay is.  Here is some information that can help a student with writing an analytical essay.

  1. Know what it is you are writing.  An analytical essay, is an essay written to analyze a piece of work or particular topic or theme.
  2. What sort of things can you analyze? The topic being analyzed is usually a piece of literature like a book or an article. 
  3. Why are analysis essays written?  The purpose of this type of paper is to look at the different aspects that make up something, and come up with your own opinions of how these are relevant to your subject.  For example, you could look at a certain theme that an author has used and analyze why you think the author chose that theme.  What message were they trying to relay with the tone and atmosphere of the story?  A common assignment for an analytical essay is for the student analyze the theme of a poem.  In this case the student would break the poem down, either line by line or by each stanza of the poem.  The purpose of analyzing the poem is not to simply explain what something means, but how the different parts of the poem or subject you are analyzing fit together to make the whole.
  4. Break down the topic.  Separate your topic into different categories to analyze.  This is the key to your analysis and explaining the why’s and how’s of your topic.
  5. Compare, contrast, relate.  Figuring out the relationships between the different aspects, and then what that relationship means, is what your essay should aim to achieve.  Only then can you give a reliable statement of what message you think the author is trying to get out.
  6. Practice, practice, practice. For the student that has an especially hard time with this type of essay, I would recommend writing practice essays, as you can analyze almost any topic.  This will make it easier when writing an analysis paper for an assignment. 
  7. Be original.  Don’t be afraid to take your analysis to viewpoints that haven’t been looked at previously.  Looking at the parts you are analyzing from different angles can help create a paper with a fresh, new perspective.
  8. Include quotes.  Quotes from the work of literature you are analyzing provides specific examples of the categories you are focusing on in your essay. 
  9. Cite accordingly.  Citing all sources used prevents any copyright and plagiarism issues concerning the originality of your paper.
  10. Use correct format.  Stick to the standard academic format for writing essays, or ask your professor if they have a specific format they want you to use.  A standard format starts with an introduction, complete with a strong thesis statement and an abstract giving a brief overview of the information you will discussing in your essay.  The following section is where you break down your topic, using relevant sources and supporting evidence.  The end of your essay should bring the reader back to your original thesis.  Your closing statements should express your final thoughts on how you believe all the aspects tie together, and(in your opinion) how your analysis brings out hidden meanings in the literature.