• 120 Literary Essay Topics

Students may be assigned a literary analysis essay when taking an English, literature, or writing class. This essay aims to analyze a particular work or body of work within the context of literature.

Students giving this type of writing assignment often find that while they can understand the texts being studied, they have difficulty putting their thoughts about them into words. This can be frustrating because literary analysis requires both interpretation and evaluation, two skills that can be challenging to put on paper.

Fortunately, we’ve created an expert guide to help students write the best literary analysis essay possible. Additionally, we’ve included 120 literary analysis essay topics that offer a wide range of interesting options for students to choose from.

What Does Analysis Mean?

While students may have written essays with different purposes in the past, a literary analysis essay asks them to take a different approach. When students engage in literary analysis, they explore the text deeply and in detail. They are not simply summarizing the plot or retelling the story. Instead, they are looking at the how and why of the text, delving into its deeper meaning.

Students must learn how to go beyond simple surface-level analysis and move towards a more complex understanding of the text. This can be achieved by asking the right questions, such as:

  • How does the author use literary devices?
  • What is the author’s purpose in writing this text?
  • What are the underlying themes in the text?
  • What does the text reveal about the author’s point of view?

Answering these questions can help students move beyond simply understanding a text to being able to analyze it effectively.

Types of Literary Analysis Essays

There are three common types of literary analysis essays that students may be asked to write. Each has its own unique purpose and focus.

Character Analysis

In a character analysis, students are asked to analyze a character from a literary work. This could be a protagonist, an antagonist, or a minor character. This type of essay aims to help students understand the role that characters play in a work of literature. To do this effectively, students must pay close attention to how the author develops the character throughout the text.

For example, if a student were asked to write a character analysis of Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, they would need to consider how Gatsby is developed throughout the novel. This might involve looking at how Fitzgerald uses symbolism, narration, and dialogue to reveal things about Gatsby’s character.

Theme Analysis

A theme analysis essay focuses on a work of literature’s central theme. The purpose of this type of essay is to help students understand the theme’s role in the work as a whole. To do this effectively, students need to identify the work’s major themes and understand how they are developed throughout the course of the text.

For example, if students were asked to write a theme analysis of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, they might identify the book’s central themes of teenage angst and rebellion. They would then need to examine how these themes are developed throughout the course of the novel.

Symbolism Analysis

A symbolism analysis essay focuses on how a work of literature uses symbols to represent ideas or themes. The purpose of this type of essay is to help students understand how symbols are used to convey ideas and messages in a work of literature. To do this effectively, students need to be able to identify the work’s major symbols and understand their significance.

For example, suppose a student was asked to write a symbolism analysis of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In that case, they might examine the ways in which the green light, the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, and the valley of ashes function as symbols in the novel.

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

When writing a literary analysis essay, it is important to be sure that you are clear about your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the main point of your essay and should be concise and easy to understand. Some good examples of thesis statements for literary analysis essays include:

“In The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger uses symbols to represent the teenage experience.”

“Fitzgerald’s use of symbolism in The Great Gatsby reveals the theme of the corruption of the American dream.”

Once you have your thesis statement, you will need to support it with evidence from the text. This could be done through the use of quotes, examples, or other types of evidence. Be sure that you are clear on what your evidence is and how it supports your thesis.

Another important aspect of writing a literary analysis essay is organization. Your essay should be well-organized and flow smoothly from point to point. Each body paragraph should have a topic sentence that states the main point of the paragraph and supporting evidence to back it up. Be sure to transition smoothly between paragraphs to make your essay easy to follow.

Finally, the conclusion of your essay should sum up the main points of your argument and leave the reader with a clear understanding of your position. A good conclusion will also restate your thesis in different words than how it was stated in your introduction.

120 Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Students stuck on a topic for their essay can use any of these 120 literary analysis essay topics to get inspired.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Symbolism

  • How does the author use symbols to represent ideas in the text?
  • What is the significance of the book’s title?
  • How do the book’s characters embody the themes of the text?
  • What objects or images appear throughout the book, and what do they symbolize?
  • How does the author use color to convey ideas in the text?
  • What is the significance of the book’s setting?
  • What does the narrator’s point of view reveal about the characters and events in the text?
  • How does the author use foreshadowing to build suspense in the story?
  • What motifs appear in the text, and what do they symbolize?
  • How does the author’s use of irony contribute to the text’s overall theme?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Theme

  • What is the book’s central theme? Why?
  • How does the author explore the book’s main theme?
  • What messages does the author convey about the book’s main theme?
  • How does the author develop the book’s secondary themes?
  • What messages does the author convey about the book’s secondary themes?
  • How does the author’s choice of words contribute to the development of the theme in the text?
  • What characters embody the book’s central themes, and how do they represent them?
  • How does the author’s use of figurative language contribute to developing a theme in the text?
  • What events in the book support the main theme, and how do they contribute to its development?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in the text?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Character

  • How do the book’s characters develop throughout the story?
  • How do the book’s characters contribute to the development of the plot?
  • How does the author use dialogue to reveal information about the book’s characters?
  • What physical traits do the book’s characters possess, and how do they contribute to the story?
  • What psychological traits do the book’s characters possess, and how do they contribute to the story?
  • How do the book’s characters interact with each other, and what does this reveal about them?
  • What motivates the book’s characters, and how does this contribute to the development of the plot?
  • How does the author’s use of point of view contribute to the development of the book’s characters?
  • What conflicts do the book’s characters face, and how do they resolve them?
  • How do the book’s characters change by the end of the story, and what does this reveal about them?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Plot

  • What is the book’s main plot?
  • How does the author develop the book’s main plot?
  • What messages does the author convey about the book’s main plot?
  • How does the author develop the book’s secondary plots?
  • What messages does the author convey about the book’s secondary plots?
  • How does the author’s choice of words contribute to the development of the book’s plot?
  • What events in the book support the main plot, and how do they contribute to its development?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the book’s plot?
  • How does the author’s use of figurative language contribute to the development of the book’s plot?
  • What characters embody the book’s main plot, and how do they represent it?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Setting

  • How would a different setting affect the book’s plot?
  • How does the book’s setting contribute to the development of its characters?
  • What messages does the author convey about the book’s setting?
  • How does the author use the book’s setting to develop the book’s mood?
  • How do events in the book make the setting more or less real?
  • How does the author’s use of description contribute to the development of the book’s setting?
  • What physical traits does the book’s setting possess, and how do they contribute to the story?
  • What psychological traits does the book’s setting possess, and how do they contribute to the story?
  • How does the author use the book’s setting to develop the book’s theme?
  • What symbols are present in the book’s setting, and what do they represent?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About American Classic Literature

  • Compare and contrast the American Dream as it is portrayed in The Great Gatsby and Death of a Salesman.
  • How does F. Scott Fitzgerald’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in The Great Gatsby?
  • What similarities and differences exist between the characters in The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird?
  • In what ways does Harper Lee’s use of first-person point of view contribute to the development of Atticus Finch’s character?
  • How does J.D. Salinger’s use of figurative language contribute to the development of Holden Caulfield’s character?
  • What messages about society does Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman convey?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in All My Sons?
  • What messages about family does Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie convey?
  • What messages about love and relationships does Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf convey?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About British Literature

  • How does Shakespeare’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in Romeo and Juliet?
  • What messages about family does William Golding’s Lord of the Flies convey?
  • What messages about love and relationships does D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers convey?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in Women in Love?
  • What messages about society does George Orwell’s Animal Farm convey?

Literary Analysis Topics About Poetry

  • How does the author’s choice of words contribute to the development of the theme in a particular poem?
  • What messages about society does the poem convey?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in the poem?
  • What clues in the poem suggest the poet had a troubled life?
  • What physical traits does the poem’s speaker possess, and how do they contribute to the poem’s development?
  • What psychological traits does the poem’s speaker possess, and how do they contribute to the development of the poem?
  • How would a different choice of words contribute to the development of the poem’s theme?
  • What different images does the author use in the poem, and how do they contribute to its development?
  • Compare and contrast the author’s use of imagery in two different poems.
  • How does the author’s use of sound contribute to the development of the poem?

Literary Analysis Topics About Theater

  • Examine how the playwright’s use of stage directions contributes to character development in the play.
  • How does the playwright’s use of dialogue contribute to the development of the theme in the play?
  • What messages about love and relationships does the play convey?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in the play?
  • What messages about family does the playwright’s use of figurative language convey?
  • How does the author’s use of point of view contribute to the development of the play’s characters?
  • In what ways does the playwright’s use of setting contribute to the development of the play’s plot?
  • What messages about society does the play convey?
  • How would a change in the play’s setting contribute to its development?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About YA Novels

  • Explore the main differences between the book and its film adaptation.
  • What messages about love and relationships does the novel convey?
  • Examine the use of adolescent slang in the novel and its effects on the development of theme.
  • Argue for or against including a particular novel in high school curriculums.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Speeches

  • Compare and contrast Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech with Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet
  • Explore the symbolism in Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.”
  • Analyze the rhetoric in JFK’s “Moon Speech.”
  • What messages about society does Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech convey?
  • How does Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech contribute to his character development?
  • What physical traits does the speaker possess, and how do they contribute to the development of the speech?
  • What psychological traits does the speaker possess, and how do they contribute to the development of the speech?
  • How would a different choice of words contribute to the development of the speech’s theme?
  • What different images does the author use in the speech, and how do they contribute to its development?
  • Compare and contrast the author’s use of imagery in two different speeches.
  • Does the intensity of the rhetoric in the speech contribute to its effectiveness?
  • How does the author’s use of sound contribute to the development of the speech?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Books Turned into Movies

  • Explore the themes of capitalism in Fight Club.
  • Discuss how The Catcher in the Rye is an autobiographical novel.
  • Analyze the character of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye.
  • Compare and contrast the book and film versions of The Great Gatsby.
  • Examine the use of color in The Great Gatsby.
  • Explore the theme of betrayal in The Great Gatsby.
  • Analyze the character of Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.
  • Compare and contrast the book and film versions of To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Examine the use of point of view in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Analyze the character of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Non-Fiction Books

  • Compare and contrast two biographies of the same person.
  • Analyze a section of the US Constitution.
  • Compare and contrast two religious texts.
  • Analyze the historical effects of the writings of Niccolo Machiavelli.
  • Compare and contrast the ideas of Karl Marx and Adam Smith.
  • Analyze the thoughts of Rousseau on education.
  • Evaluate the methods used in a self-help book.
  • Review a political science text.
  • Compare and contrast the autobiographies of two different philosophers.
  • Compare and contrast the claims made in two history books.

With any of these 120 literary essay topics, you’ll be able to deep-dive into the world of literature and create an impressive essay on any text you’ve read.

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Group 6

Interesting Literature

How to Write a Good English Literature Essay

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

How do you write a good English Literature essay? Although to an extent this depends on the particular subject you’re writing about, and on the nature of the question your essay is attempting to answer, there are a few general guidelines for how to write a convincing essay – just as there are a few guidelines for writing well in any field.

We at Interesting Literature  call them ‘guidelines’ because we hesitate to use the word ‘rules’, which seems too programmatic. And as the writing habits of successful authors demonstrate, there is no  one way to become a good writer – of essays, novels, poems, or whatever it is you’re setting out to write. The French writer Colette liked to begin her writing day by picking the fleas off her cat.

Edith Sitwell, by all accounts, liked to lie in an open coffin before she began her day’s writing. Friedrich von Schiller kept rotten apples in his desk, claiming he needed the scent of their decay to help him write. (For most student essay-writers, such an aroma is probably allowed to arise in the writing-room more organically, over time.)

We will address our suggestions for successful essay-writing to the average student of English Literature, whether at university or school level. There are many ways to approach the task of essay-writing, and these are just a few pointers for how to write a better English essay – and some of these pointers may also work for other disciplines and subjects, too.

Of course, these guidelines are designed to be of interest to the non-essay-writer too – people who have an interest in the craft of writing in general. If this describes you, we hope you enjoy the list as well. Remember, though, everyone can find writing difficult: as Thomas Mann memorably put it, ‘A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.’ Nora Ephron was briefer: ‘I think the hardest thing about writing is writing.’ So, the guidelines for successful essay-writing:

1. Planning is important, but don’t spend too long perfecting a structure that might end up changing.

This may seem like odd advice to kick off with, but the truth is that different approaches work for different students and essayists. You need to find out which method works best for you.

It’s not a bad idea, regardless of whether you’re a big planner or not, to sketch out perhaps a few points on a sheet of paper before you start, but don’t be surprised if you end up moving away from it slightly – or considerably – when you start to write.

Often the most extensively planned essays are the most mechanistic and dull in execution, precisely because the writer has drawn up a plan and refused to deviate from it. What  is a more valuable skill is to be able to sense when your argument may be starting to go off-topic, or your point is getting out of hand,  as you write . (For help on this, see point 5 below.)

We might even say that when it comes to knowing how to write a good English Literature essay,  practising  is more important than planning.

2. Make room for close analysis of the text, or texts.

Whilst it’s true that some first-class or A-grade essays will be impressive without containing any close reading as such, most of the highest-scoring and most sophisticated essays tend to zoom in on the text and examine its language and imagery closely in the course of the argument. (Close reading of literary texts arises from theology and the analysis of holy scripture, but really became a ‘thing’ in literary criticism in the early twentieth century, when T. S. Eliot, F. R. Leavis, William Empson, and other influential essayists started to subject the poem or novel to close scrutiny.)

Close reading has two distinct advantages: it increases the specificity of your argument (so you can’t be so easily accused of generalising a point), and it improves your chances of pointing up something about the text which none of the other essays your marker is reading will have said. For instance, take In Memoriam  (1850), which is a long Victorian poem by the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson about his grief following the death of his close friend, Arthur Hallam, in the early 1830s.

When answering a question about the representation of religious faith in Tennyson’s poem  In Memoriam  (1850), how might you write a particularly brilliant essay about this theme? Anyone can make a general point about the poet’s crisis of faith; but to look closely at the language used gives you the chance to show  how the poet portrays this.

For instance, consider this stanza, which conveys the poet’s doubt:

A solid and perfectly competent essay might cite this stanza in support of the claim that Tennyson is finding it increasingly difficult to have faith in God (following the untimely and senseless death of his friend, Arthur Hallam). But there are several ways of then doing something more with it. For instance, you might get close to the poem’s imagery, and show how Tennyson conveys this idea, through the image of the ‘altar-stairs’ associated with religious worship and the idea of the stairs leading ‘thro’ darkness’ towards God.

In other words, Tennyson sees faith as a matter of groping through the darkness, trusting in God without having evidence that he is there. If you like, it’s a matter of ‘blind faith’. That would be a good reading. Now, here’s how to make a good English essay on this subject even better: one might look at how the word ‘falter’ – which encapsulates Tennyson’s stumbling faith – disperses into ‘falling’ and ‘altar’ in the succeeding lines. The word ‘falter’, we might say, itself falters or falls apart.

That is doing more than just interpreting the words: it’s being a highly careful reader of the poetry and showing how attentive to the language of the poetry you can be – all the while answering the question, about how the poem portrays the idea of faith. So, read and then reread the text you’re writing about – and be sensitive to such nuances of language and style.

The best way to  become attuned to such nuances is revealed in point 5. We might summarise this point as follows: when it comes to knowing how to write a persuasive English Literature essay, it’s one thing to have a broad and overarching argument, but don’t be afraid to use the  microscope as well as the telescope.

3. Provide several pieces of evidence where possible.

Many essays have a point to make and make it, tacking on a single piece of evidence from the text (or from beyond the text, e.g. a critical, historical, or biographical source) in the hope that this will be enough to make the point convincing.

‘State, quote, explain’ is the Holy Trinity of the Paragraph for many. What’s wrong with it? For one thing, this approach is too formulaic and basic for many arguments. Is one quotation enough to support a point? It’s often a matter of degree, and although one piece of evidence is better than none, two or three pieces will be even more persuasive.

After all, in a court of law a single eyewitness account won’t be enough to convict the accused of the crime, and even a confession from the accused would carry more weight if it comes supported by other, objective evidence (e.g. DNA, fingerprints, and so on).

Let’s go back to the example about Tennyson’s faith in his poem  In Memoriam  mentioned above. Perhaps you don’t find the end of the poem convincing – when the poet claims to have rediscovered his Christian faith and to have overcome his grief at the loss of his friend.

You can find examples from the end of the poem to suggest your reading of the poet’s insincerity may have validity, but looking at sources beyond the poem – e.g. a good edition of the text, which will contain biographical and critical information – may help you to find a clinching piece of evidence to support your reading.

And, sure enough, Tennyson is reported to have said of  In Memoriam : ‘It’s too hopeful, this poem, more than I am myself.’ And there we have it: much more convincing than simply positing your reading of the poem with a few ambiguous quotations from the poem itself.

Of course, this rule also works in reverse: if you want to argue, for instance, that T. S. Eliot’s  The Waste Land is overwhelmingly inspired by the poet’s unhappy marriage to his first wife, then using a decent biographical source makes sense – but if you didn’t show evidence for this idea from the poem itself (see point 2), all you’ve got is a vague, general link between the poet’s life and his work.

Show  how the poet’s marriage is reflected in the work, e.g. through men and women’s relationships throughout the poem being shown as empty, soulless, and unhappy. In other words, when setting out to write a good English essay about any text, don’t be afraid to  pile on  the evidence – though be sensible, a handful of quotations or examples should be more than enough to make your point convincing.

4. Avoid tentative or speculative phrasing.

Many essays tend to suffer from the above problem of a lack of evidence, so the point fails to convince. This has a knock-on effect: often the student making the point doesn’t sound especially convinced by it either. This leaks out in the telling use of, and reliance on, certain uncertain  phrases: ‘Tennyson might have’ or ‘perhaps Harper Lee wrote this to portray’ or ‘it can be argued that’.

An English university professor used to write in the margins of an essay which used this last phrase, ‘What  can’t be argued?’

This is a fair criticism: anything can be argued (badly), but it depends on what evidence you can bring to bear on it (point 3) as to whether it will be a persuasive argument. (Arguing that the plays of Shakespeare were written by a Martian who came down to Earth and ingratiated himself with the world of Elizabethan theatre is a theory that can be argued, though few would take it seriously. We wish we could say ‘none’, but that’s a story for another day.)

Many essay-writers, because they’re aware that texts are often open-ended and invite multiple interpretations (as almost all great works of literature invariably do), think that writing ‘it can be argued’ acknowledges the text’s rich layering of meaning and is therefore valid.

Whilst this is certainly a fact – texts are open-ended and can be read in wildly different ways – the phrase ‘it can be argued’ is best used sparingly if at all. It should be taken as true that your interpretation is, at bottom, probably unprovable. What would it mean to ‘prove’ a reading as correct, anyway? Because you found evidence that the author intended the same thing as you’ve argued of their text? Tennyson wrote in a letter, ‘I wrote In Memoriam  because…’?

But the author might have lied about it (e.g. in an attempt to dissuade people from looking too much into their private life), or they might have changed their mind (to go back to the example of  The Waste Land : T. S. Eliot championed the idea of poetic impersonality in an essay of 1919, but years later he described  The Waste Land as ‘only the relief of a personal and wholly insignificant grouse against life’ – hardly impersonal, then).

Texts – and their writers – can often be contradictory, or cagey about their meaning. But we as critics have to act responsibly when writing about literary texts in any good English essay or exam answer. We need to argue honestly, and sincerely – and not use what Wikipedia calls ‘weasel words’ or hedging expressions.

So, if nothing is utterly provable, all that remains is to make the strongest possible case you can with the evidence available. You do this, not only through marshalling the evidence in an effective way, but by writing in a confident voice when making your case. Fundamentally, ‘There is evidence to suggest that’ says more or less the same thing as ‘It can be argued’, but it foregrounds the  evidence rather than the argument, so is preferable as a phrase.

This point might be summarised by saying: the best way to write a good English Literature essay is to be honest about the reading you’re putting forward, so you can be confident in your interpretation and use clear, bold language. (‘Bold’ is good, but don’t get too cocky, of course…)

5. Read the work of other critics.

This might be viewed as the Holy Grail of good essay-writing tips, since it is perhaps the single most effective way to improve your own writing. Even if you’re writing an essay as part of school coursework rather than a university degree, and don’t need to research other critics for your essay, it’s worth finding a good writer of literary criticism and reading their work. Why is this worth doing?

Published criticism has at least one thing in its favour, at least if it’s published by an academic press or has appeared in an academic journal, and that is that it’s most probably been peer-reviewed, meaning that other academics have read it, closely studied its argument, checked it for errors or inaccuracies, and helped to ensure that it is expressed in a fluent, clear, and effective way.

If you’re serious about finding out how to write a better English essay, then you need to study how successful writers in the genre do it. And essay-writing is a genre, the same as novel-writing or poetry. But why will reading criticism help you? Because the critics you read can show you how to do all of the above: how to present a close reading of a poem, how to advance an argument that is not speculative or tentative yet not over-confident, how to use evidence from the text to make your argument more persuasive.

And, the more you read of other critics – a page a night, say, over a few months – the better you’ll get. It’s like textual osmosis: a little bit of their style will rub off on you, and every writer learns by the examples of other writers.

As T. S. Eliot himself said, ‘The poem which is absolutely original is absolutely bad.’ Don’t get precious about your own distinctive writing style and become afraid you’ll lose it. You can’t  gain a truly original style before you’ve looked at other people’s and worked out what you like and what you can ‘steal’ for your own ends.

We say ‘steal’, but this is not the same as saying that plagiarism is okay, of course. But consider this example. You read an accessible book on Shakespeare’s language and the author makes a point about rhymes in Shakespeare. When you’re working on your essay on the poetry of Christina Rossetti, you notice a similar use of rhyme, and remember the point made by the Shakespeare critic.

This is not plagiarising a point but applying it independently to another writer. It shows independent interpretive skills and an ability to understand and apply what you have read. This is another of the advantages of reading critics, so this would be our final piece of advice for learning how to write a good English essay: find a critic whose style you like, and study their craft.

If you’re looking for suggestions, we can recommend a few favourites: Christopher Ricks, whose  The Force of Poetry is a tour de force; Jonathan Bate, whose  The Genius of Shakespeare , although written for a general rather than academic audience, is written by a leading Shakespeare scholar and academic; and Helen Gardner, whose  The Art of T. S. Eliot , whilst dated (it came out in 1949), is a wonderfully lucid and articulate analysis of Eliot’s poetry.

James Wood’s How Fiction Works  is also a fine example of lucid prose and how to close-read literary texts. Doubtless readers of  Interesting Literature will have their own favourites to suggest in the comments, so do check those out, as these are just three personal favourites. What’s your favourite work of literary scholarship/criticism? Suggestions please.

Much of all this may strike you as common sense, but even the most commonsensical advice can go out of your mind when you have a piece of coursework to write, or an exam to revise for. We hope these suggestions help to remind you of some of the key tenets of good essay-writing practice – though remember, these aren’t so much commandments as recommendations. No one can ‘tell’ you how to write a good English Literature essay as such.

But it can be learned. And remember, be interesting – find the things in the poems or plays or novels which really ignite your enthusiasm. As John Mortimer said, ‘The only rule I have found to have any validity in writing is not to bore yourself.’

Finally, good luck – and happy writing!

And if you enjoyed these tips for how to write a persuasive English essay, check out our advice for how to remember things for exams  and our tips for becoming a better close reader of poetry .

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30 thoughts on “How to Write a Good English Literature Essay”

You must have taken AP Literature. I’m always saying these same points to my students.

I also think a crucial part of excellent essay writing that too many students do not realize is that not every point or interpretation needs to be addressed. When offered the chance to write your interpretation of a work of literature, it is important to note that there of course are many but your essay should choose one and focus evidence on this one view rather than attempting to include all views and evidence to back up each view.

Reblogged this on SocioTech'nowledge .

Not a bad effort…not at all! (Did you intend “subject” instead of “object” in numbered paragraph two, line seven?”

Oops! I did indeed – many thanks for spotting. Duly corrected ;)

That’s what comes of writing about philosophy and the subject/object for another post at the same time!

Reblogged this on Scribing English .

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Great post on essay writing! I’ve shared a post about this and about the blog site in general which you can look at here: http://writeoutloudblog.com/2015/01/13/recommended-resource-interesting-literature-com-how-to-write-an-essay/

All of these are very good points – especially I like 2 and 5. I’d like to read the essay on the Martian who wrote Shakespeare’s plays).

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I shall take this as my New Year boost in Writing Essays. Please try to visit often for corrections,advise and criticisms.

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All very good points, but numbers 2 and 4 are especially interesting.

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Great post. Interesting infographic how to write an argumentative essay http://www.essay-profy.com/blog/how-to-write-an-essay-writing-an-argumentative-essay/

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Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented: This could be applied to novel or short story writing as well.

Reblogged this on rosetech67 and commented: Useful, albeit maybe a bit late for me :-)

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such a nice pieace of content you shared in this write up about “How to Write a Good English Essay” going to share on another useful resource that is

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100-Plus Writing Prompts to Explore Common Themes in Literature and Life

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Update, Feb. 15, 2019: Learn more about how to use our 1000s of writing prompts by watching our free on-demand webinar: “ Give Them Something to Write About: Teach Across the Curriculum With New York Times-Inspired Daily Prompts. ”

Every day since 2009 we’ve been asking students a question inspired by an article, essay, video or feature in The New York Times.

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This time, however, we’re making a list to help your students more easily connect the literature they’re reading to the world around them — and to help teachers find great works of nonfiction that can echo common literary themes.

Below, we’ve chosen the best prompts — those that ask the most relevant questions and link to the richest Times materials — from our Student Opinion collection that address every stage of life, from coming-of-age and wrestling with one’s identity to understanding one’s role in a family; making friends; getting an education; falling in love; working; and experiencing old age. We hope they can provide jumping-off points for discussion and writing, and inspiration for further reading.

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Literary Analysis Essay Writing

Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Cathy A.

Interesting Literary Analysis Essay Topics & Ideas

15 min read

literary analysis essay topics

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Good Literary Analysis Essay Topic Ideas

How to choose a literary analysis essay topic , tips to write a compelling literary analysis essay.

You’re a literature student, and you’ve been assigned to work on a literature analysis essay, but you’re not sure which topic to go for. It’s a tricky situation!

We understand that choosing a worthy topic for a literary analysis essay is never an easy task. But don’t you worry!

For literature students, we know the importance of drafting an excellent literary analysis essay . And for an exceptional essay, one needs a standout topic.

That’s why in this blog, we have gathered more than 200 exciting and interesting literary analysis essay ideas for you to get started. 

Read on! 

If you are a high school or a college student, and you’re having difficulty coming up with a good topic for your essay, choose from the topic list below.  

Literary Analysis Essay Topics Middle School

  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane 
  • Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
  • Harry Potter’s powers in the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling 
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 
  • Allegory in Lord Byron’s Vision of Judgement 
  • Impact of Henry Miller and Gordon Byron’s life on their legacy 
  • Comparative analysis of Dickens VS Thackeray 
  • Canterbury Tales VS Decameron 
  • The irony in Jerome’s stories
  • Mood expressions in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Literary Analysis Essay Topics for High School

  • The representation of justice in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Analyze the theme of friendship in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men
  • Explore the theme of identity in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series
  • The role of nature in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights
  • Discuss the concept of heroism in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
  • The use of foreshadowing in George Orwell's Animal Farm
  • The representation of mental health in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
  • The impact of war on individuals in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried
  • The use of symbolism and allegory in Lois Lowry's The Giver
  • Discuss the role of cultural identity in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club

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Literary Analysis Essay Topics For College

  • Literary devices used in The Night by Elie Wiesel 
  • The portrayal of the escape theme in Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer 
  • The evolution of Celie's character in 'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker
  • Jane Austen's critique of social class and marriage in Pride and Prejudice
  • Shed light on the theme of chaos in Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Examine the historical events of World War II and their significance in Elie Wiesel's “Night.”
  • The power of love in The Princess Bride by William Goldman 
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain 
  • Presentation of dreams in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck 
  • The Rocking Horse Winner by D.H. Lawrence 

Literary Analysis Essay Prompts in Classics

  • The portrayal of fate in Romeo and Juliet 
  • The portrayal of love in Romeo and Juliet 
  • Concept of mortality in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet 
  • Misogyny in Hamlet 
  • Witchcraft in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth 
  • The tragic flaws and character development of King Lear in William Shakespeare's play
  • The philosophical underpinnings of justice and governance in Plato's 'The Republic
  • Exploring the theme of civil disobedience and consequences in Sophocles' 'Antigone’
  • Exploring the conflict between illusion and reality in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'
  • The complex character relationships and moral dilemmas in 'Montana' by Larry Watson

Social Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Social injustice in Oliver Twist 
  • Ethnicity in Burmese Days by Orwell
  • Torture and injustice in Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Vanity Fair - the culture of the 19th century according to Thackeray 
  • The portrayal of the Civil Western Society in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • The role of women in society in the 18th Century according to Jane Austen 
  • Escape from society and its rules in Into the Wild by John Krakauer 
  • The place of women in the society in Hamlet 
  • Social status of women in the 17th century portrayed by Jane Austen in Emma 
  • The wrongs of the modern society in Fight Club by Palahniuk 

War and Peace Topics for Literary Analysis Essay

  • The portrayal of war and violence in the poems of Stephen Crane
  • Literary works during WWI
  • War setting in Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The depiction of war in Homer’s plays
  • Toni Morrison’s views on the civil war
  • The war between demons and angels in Paradise Lost
  • War in the Mother Courage and Her Child by Bertolt Brecht
  • The portrayal of war and peace by George Orwell
  • Concept of war in A Fable by Faulkner
  • Steinbeck’s presentation of injustice in The Grapes of Wrath

Literary Analysis Essay Topics for Movies

  • Comparison between the book and film “Sense and Sensibility.” 
  • The portrayal of women in the “Little Women.” 
  • Imitation of society and class in “The Great Gatsby.”
  • The ideas of love and trust in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” 
  • The good and evil in “A Wrinkle in Time.” 
  • Feminity in Sense and Sensibility 
  • The role of Saruman and Gandalf 
  • Spirituality and religion in “Lord of the Flies.” 
  • Oskar’s struggle to find a sense of home in “The Tin Drum.”
  • Jealousy and male pride in “The Dead.” 

Literary Analysis Essay Topics for the Subject of Race

  • “Waiting for the Barbarians” by J.M. Coetzee
  • Race and Injustice in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Race and fellowship in Melville’s Moby Dick
  • “Under The Feet Of Jesus”
  • Description of culture and tradition in “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid
  • Interracial relationship in Back to Life by Wendy Coakley
  • Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by McMorris
  • The Art Of Love by Hong Ying
  • Multiculturalism in the Captain Underpants series by Dev Pilkey
  • Imitation of slavery in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

General Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Focalization techniques in When I Lay Dying
  • Historical background of Duma’s Novels
  • The use of imagery in Walt Whitman’s works
  • Male and female characters in Beowulf
  • Character analysis of Emmy in Vanity Fair
  • Character analysis of Rebeca in Vanity Fair
  • The complicated relationship between mother and daughter in Beloved
  • Beauty standards in The Bluest Eye
  • Comparison in the portrayal of death by Keats and Blake
  • The idea of death in Renaissance literature

1984 Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Roles of genders in the novel
  • What role does the Ministry of Truth play in the story?
  • The theme of subversion of love in 1984
  • The importance of memory in 1984
  • Totalitarian society in George Orwell's 1984
  • Analyze the role O'Brien plays in Winston's life
  • An in-depth analysis of the novel 1984 by George Orwell
  • How is the historical background reflected in 1984?
  • Lack of privacy in 1984
  • Propaganda and totalitarianism in Orwell’s “1984”

Hamlet Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • A theme of revenge in Hamlet
  • Explore Hamlet’s relationship with Ophelia
  • Explore Hamlet’s mental state
  • Discuss Hamlet's relationship with Gertrude
  • Ghost in Hamlet
  • Was Hamlet truly mad?
  • Is Hamlet a villain or a hero?
  • How does Shakespeare present the idea of madness in Hamlet?
  • Is Hamlet’s love for Ophelia genuine?
  • Tragedies in Hamlet VS Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Discuss the development of characters during the play
  • Examine the role of women in Romeo and Juliet.
  • What is the role of history in Romeo and Juliet?
  • Analyze the Romeo and Juliet play
  • Romeo and Juliet: Fate or Free Will?
  • Why did Juliet warn of danger?
  • Rosaline in Romeo and Juliet
  • The love language of Romeo and Juliet
  • A fate analysis essay on Romeo and Juliet
  • The death of Romeo and Juliet

Macbeth Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Macbeth’s mental state
  • The role of morality in the play “Macbeth”
  • Describe the use of figurative language in Macbeth
  • The symbolism of blood in Macbeth
  • Applying imagery in Macbeth to advance the story
  • Lady Macbeth character analysis
  • What role did social hierarchies play in the play?
  • Analysis of gender roles in Macbeth
  • Role of women in Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • Is Lady Macbeth a dominant heroine?

Beowulf Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Why is Beowulf a work of Christian propaganda?
  • What is the main idea of the story?
  • The meaning of rings in Beowulf
  • Which of Beowulf's fights was most heroic?
  • How do Beowulf’s heroic qualities affect the story?
  • Discuss the digression's role in Beowulf
  • Analyze the significance of the mead hall in Beowulf.
  • The difference between Beowulf and Modern-Day Heroes
  • Beowulf’s personality traits in the epic story
  • Analysis of Beowulf's symbols and their importance

Frankenstein Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Analyze what fire is trying to symbolize.
  • Frankenstein: The theme of guilt
  • Discuss any romantic elements in “Frankenstein”
  • The family relationship in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Who is more human, Frankenstein or the monster?
  • Romantic and gothic Frankenstein elements
  • Sacrifices for ambitions in the novel Frankenstein
  • Relationship between Victor and Frankenstein
  • Romanticism in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Family Values and Frankenstein

The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Discuss the novel as a cautionary tale
  • The meaning of wealth in the novel
  • What is the novel’s title meaning?
  • Explain how the novel demonstrates the characteristics of modernism
  • Explore the symbolism of the “green light” in “The Great Gatsby”
  • Discuss the role of women in the 1920s society as portrayed in “The Great Gatsby”
  • Dreams are the main theme in “The Great Gatsby”
  • What makes The Great Gatsby great?
  • The Great Gatsby: Winter Thoughts
  • What role does money play in Fitzgerald’s novel?

The Crucible Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Relate the Crucible to modern society
  • Analyze the most important theme of 'The Crucible.'
  • What are the dynamics of puritanism?
  • Examine the importance of religion in 1953 in work
  • The use of fear tactics in “The Crucible”
  • John Hale in The Crucible
  • Morality and The Crucible
  • The Crucible Critical Lens
  • The sinful confessions in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

Fahrenheit 451 Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • History of the Fireman in Fahrenheit 451
  • Discuss the roles of both nature and technology play in Fahrenheit 451
  • The use of Parallelism in Fahrenheit 451
  • Analyze the three parts of Fahrenheit 451
  • Discuss the dual image of fire in the novel
  • How relevant is Fahrenheit 451 today?
  • The role of Clarisse McClellan in “Fahrenheit 451”
  • Analyze Mildred Montag
  • Discuss the usage of literary quotes in Fahrenheit 451
  • Examine the novel's main title

Literary Analysis Essay Topics For Othello

  • Examine the portrayal of women in ‘Othello’
  • A true reason for Othello's demise
  • Consider Othello’s suicide
  • The real motives of Iago in Othello
  • Women's roles in Shakespeare’s Othello and Hamlet
  • Gender roles and racism in “Othello”
  • Discuss Othello's relationship
  • Analysis of The Film “Othello” By Oliver Parker
  • Explore themes of love and betrayal within Shakespeare's work of literature, “Othello”
  • How was Emilia treated by the men in the play “Othello”?

Lord of The Flies Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • The symbolism of the conch shell and its significance in the novel
  • Analyze the themes of civilization versus savagery in “Lord of the Flies”
  • Explore the character development of Ralph and Jack in the story
  • Discuss the role of fear and the “beast” in the boys' descent into chaos
  • The portrayal of innate human nature and its consequences on the deserted island
  • Analyze the role of Piggy and his glasses as symbols of knowledge and reason
  • Analyze the use of irony in the story and its implications for the characters
  • Discuss the themes of power and leadership in the struggle for dominance
  • Examine the relationship between the boys' names and their personalities
  • The role of the island's setting in shaping the events and characters of the story

Literary Analysis Essay Topics For The Catcher In The Rye

  • Analyze the novel from the perspective of Bildungsroman
  • Analyze literary devices used in “The Catcher in the Rye”
  • Discuss the theme of death in the novel
  • Analyze the theme of self-discovery from the novel
  • Describe the story's topic of loneliness
  • Analyze growing up in the novel
  • Why does Holden love the Museum of Natural History?
  • The Role of Dialogue in The Catcher in the Rye
  • Describe the novel's portrayal of phoniness and naivety
  • Describe the character of Holden

Interesting Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • War, existentialism, and love in “A Farewell to Arms”
  • Sense of Sin in The Scarlet Letter 
  • Analyze the use of biblical allusions and religious symbolism in William Golding's novels
  • Analyze the symbolism of the “white whale” in Melville's work of literature, “Moby-Dick”
  • Lies and deceit in “The Godfather” 
  • Analyze the portrayal of fear and the human psyche in William Golding's novels
  • The symbols used to describe nature by William Wordsworth
  • Comparison between urban and rural settings of nature in the dystopia of Huxley
  • Decay and revival in post-apocalyptic novels
  • A religious and spiritual journey in “Jude the Obscure”

Now that you have the liberty to choose from a wide range of literary analysis example topics, you could use some help on how to opt for a good topic. 

To select a good and worthy topic for your literary analysis essay, follow the tips provided below:

  • Always go for an interesting topic for an engaging piece of paper
  • Look for an idea with available research material to support your analysis
  • Ensure your topic allows for an in-depth analysis rather than a surface-level summary
  • Choose an idea that challenges you to think critically and make meaningful connections
  • Avoid overly broad topics; instead, focus on a specific aspect or element of the work.
  • Choose an idea that best reflects your stance on the chosen work.
  • Analyze the topic deeply before you start writing about it
  • Balance personal interest with the potential appeal to your target audience
  • Make sure that the theme of the work is visible in your essay topic 

Here are some tips for you to pen down a compelling literary analysis essay!

Essay writing is an essential part of academics. Students always require some tips and tricks to draft perfect essays and score good grades.

To make your literary analysis essay impeccable, follow the tips provided below:

  • Thoroughly read the chosen literary work
  • Identify the main themes, settings, and characters
  • Understand the purpose of the work 
  • Pay attention to the tools and techniques used by the author to deliver the message
  • Pick an interesting literary analytical essay topic for your essay.
  • To write an analytical essay effectively, draft a perfect literary analysis essay outline
  • Develop a strong thesis statement 
  • Craft strong topic sentences to guide and structure your analysis effectively
  • Prove and support all your statements using phrases and quotes from work
  • Write your literary essay from the third-person perspective
  • Write in the present tense
  • Avoid writing a plot summary of the work
  • Use multiple literary terms to write your essay professionally
  • Always cite properly

Literary Analysis Essay Example

To sum it up , writing a literary analysis essay can be extremely daunting if your analyzing abilities are weak. From selecting the right literary analysis topic to writing a conclusion for your essay, the process is lengthy.

To score well in academics, get a professional’s help drafting your essays. MyPerfectWords.com is an expert essay writing service that provides top-level assistance and guidance to students. 

Our experienced and credible writers will deliver you a literary analysis essay while strictly sticking to your requirements. 

Just say " write my essays online " and let us help you ease your writing woes!

Cathy A.

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay - A Step-by-Step Guide

literary analysis essay writing

Literary Analysis Essay Outline - A Step By Step Guide

literary analysis essay outline

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How to Answer Essay Type Questions in Literature Examinations

Last Updated: November 14, 2023 Approved

This article was co-authored by Tristen Bonacci . Tristen Bonacci is a Licensed English Teacher with more than 20 years of experience. Tristen has taught in both the United States and overseas. She specializes in teaching in a secondary education environment and sharing wisdom with others, no matter the environment. Tristen holds a BA in English Literature from The University of Colorado and an MEd from The University of Phoenix. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 85% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 145,208 times.

Answering essay questions on literature exams can be daunting, especially with timed exams. Before the test, you should have a full understanding of how the different parts of a classical argument fit together to make a whole. The best way to quickly write an organized essay is to outline your argument before you begin your answer. With a little bit of preparation, you can ensure a good grade on your exam.

Writing Your Essay

Step 1 Begin by outlining...

  • Create a bullet point for each point you choose to make in your paper.
  • Your first point should include the introduction, statement of facts, and thesis.
  • You should break up the “proof” or body paragraphs into however many points you laid out in your thesis. If you promised three points, create three bullet points. If you promised four points, create four bullet points. Remember that the body paragraphs must follow the exact order of the thesis.
  • Create a point for the statement of the counterargument. You can either create a new point/paragraph for your refutation of it, or keep it all in one paragraph by making the refutation a subpoint.
  • Create a point for the conclusion.

Step 2 Fill out your outline.

  • If you're using external sources, you should include them in your outline. You don't want to accidentally leave out a great source because you got caught up in the writing and forgot about it.

Step 3 Write your topic sentences into your outline.

  • Use transition words like furthermore, similarly, or indeed to transition between agreeing ideas. [4] X Research source
  • Use "conflict" transition words and phrases to transition between conflicting ideas — like the counterargument and your refutation of it. Examples include however, in contrast, on the other hand, or conversely.

Step 4 Use the outline to write your essay.

  • Make sure to refer back to your outline repeatedly during the writing process. This is the roadmap of your answer. Don't wander away from it and get off-course.

Step 5 Decide when to correct errors.

  • If you're being graded primarily on the content of your argument, leave grammar and spelling editing for your last step.
  • If you're being graded primarily on your grammar and spelling, by all means, correct your errors as you go!
  • In most cases, you won't be graded on one or the other. Keep your specific teacher or standardized test in mind. Have a strategy for when you plan to correct your errors before you take the test.

Step 6 Proofread your essay before submitting it.

  • If you're in an isolated room, read the essay aloud to yourself to look for grammar errors that sound wrong. It's easier to hear mistakes than see them on the page.
  • Read your sentences backwards to look for spelling errors you might skim over if you were reading the sentences normally. [5] X Research source

Structuring Your Argument

Step 1 Learn the six basic parts of the classical oration model.

  • Introduction (exordium)
  • Statement of Facts (narratio)
  • Thesis (partitio)
  • Proof (confirmatio)
  • Refutation (refutatio)
  • Conclusion (peroratio)
  • The introduction, statement of facts, and thesis are often grouped together in the first paragraph of the answer.

Step 2 Invite the reader into your argument in the introduction.

  • Another way to think of the exordium is to consider where the word "introduction" comes from. The prefix "intro" means "inward," as in introspection (looking inward). "Duction" comes from the Latin root "ducere," which means "to lead." This is where we get the modern words duke (one who leads) and orchestra conductor (one who leads together). [7] X Research source [8] X Research source
  • In the introduction, you want to intro + duce, or lead the reader inward, further into your argument.

Step 3 Provide background information in the statement of facts.

  • If your reader already knows the background information, you may be able to skip this section.
  • In Cicero's Latin, this section was called the "narratio," which is where we get the modern word "narrator." The narrator is the voice in a book that gives readers information that can't be delivered through dialogue or action.
  • The word "knowledge" itself shares a root with narration : gnoscere. [10] X Research source In this section, you give the readers the knowledge they need to follow your argument.

Step 4 Break down your argument in your thesis.

  • Cicero's Latin word, partitio, shares a root with the modern word "partition," which means division or separation. When Beyonce sings "Driver roll up the partition, please," she's asking the driver to roll up the window that separates him from the passengers in the back.
  • So the thesis is where you list out the different parts of your argument — your X, Y, and Z — in list form, separately.

Step 5 Show the readers the evidence for your claim in the proof.

  • Note that it's not enough to just list a bunch of quotes and statistics from sources. That's not making an argument — it's restating someone else's information or argument.

Step 6 Refute the counterargument.

  • Don't include a counterargument without refuting it. To refute means to "beat back." [13] X Research source The only reason you include the opposing point of view is to beat it back and strengthen your own position.

Step 7 Synthesize your argument in the conclusion.

  • Do not transition into your conclusion with a signal phrase like "in conclusion" or "in summary." Find a less obvious, more sophisticated transition.

Expert Q&A

Tristen Bonacci

  • Never plagiarize another author's words or ideas. You can fail the assignment or even the entire course, or get suspended or expelled from school Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

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Write an English Essay

  • ↑ Tristen Bonacci. Licensed English Teacher. Expert Interview. 21 December 2021.
  • ↑ https://www.tacoma.uw.edu/sites/default/files/global/documents/library/essay_outline_worksheet.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/engagement/2/1/29/
  • ↑ https://www.msu.edu/~jdowell/135/transw.html
  • ↑ http://www.stlcc.edu/Student_Resources/Academic_Resources/Writing_Resources/Writing_Handouts/proofreading.pdf
  • ↑ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=exhort
  • ↑ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=duke&searchmode=none
  • ↑ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=conductor&searchmode=none
  • ↑ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=narration&allowed_in_frame=0
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/thesis-statements/
  • ↑ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=refute

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435 Literary Analysis Essay Topics and Prompts [2024 Upd]

Literature courses are about two things: reading and writing about what you’ve read. For most students, it’s hard enough to understand great pieces of literature, never mind analyzing them. And with so many books and stories out there, choosing one to write about can be a chore.

But you’re in luck!

This article by our Custom Writing service experts presents a list of the most interesting and creative literary analysis topics. Additionally, you will find here:

  • helpful essay prompts;
  • a writing guide with simple tips;
  • a literary analysis example.

This comprehensive article can be helpful not only for university or college students but also to students of high and middle school.

  • 🔝 Top 10 Literature Topics for High School
  • 🔮 Top 10 Literary Topics for College
  • 📜 Topics from Different Eras
  • 🖋️ Poetry Analysis Topics
  • 🎭 Shakespeare Essay Topics
  • 📚 English Literature Topics: Different Authors
  • 💡 Non-Fiction Literature Topics
  • ⭐ Other Ideas
  • 🖊️ Literary Analysis Prompts
  • ✍️ Writing Guide
  • 📃 Essay Example

🔗 References

🔝 top 10 literature essay topics for high school.

  • The role of religion in King Lear  
  • Milk symbolism in Beloved  
  • Is there gender inequality in Iliad ? 
  • Social issues of The Little Match Girl  
  • Gender roles in The Great Gatsby  
  • Frankenstein : historical background 
  • How is loyalty presented in Beowulf ?
  • Flower symbolism in A Rose for Emily
  • Politics in Titus Andronicus  
  • The presentation of power in Ozymandias   

🔮 Top 10 Literary Analysis Essay Topics for College

  • Nature symbolism in Young Goodman Brown  
  • Childhood trauma in God Help the Child  
  • The consequences of Macbeth’s ambition 
  • The historical context of The Scarlet Letter  
  • Presentation of misery in The Chimney Sweeper
  • The supernatural in The Fall of the House of Usher  
  • What does Dorian Gray’s portrait represent? 
  • How is the true inner self discovered in Demian ? 
  • Natural beauty in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud  
  • Endurance as a theme of The Old Man and the Sea  

📜 Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Different Eras

Topics in ancient greek & roman literature.

Works of literature from Ancient Greece have a timeless quality. This is why they are still taught in schools centuries later. After thousands of years, there is little that hasn’t already been written about these works. That’s why we’ve gathered the only most outstanding topics that you will definitely find interesting:

  • Justice in Plato’s The Republic . Plato is perhaps the most influential thinker in the Western World. Accordingly, writing about his powerful philosophical dialogs is a challenging task. Most teachers will assign only portions of The Republic . We suggest you write about the theme of justice, but you can choose to focus on any other aspect of the dialog.
  • Determination in Sophocles’ Antigone. Antigone is one of the masterworks of the Greek playwright Sophocles. In this tale of royal succession, key themes include civil disobedience, natural and human law, and faithfulness.
  • Odysseus as an atypical hero in The Odyssey . The Odyssey by Homer is considered one of the most important poems in Classic literature. Odysseus is a unique epic hero facing an unusual challenge: his goal is not to win battles but to reconnect with his family. He has to rely on his wit rather than sheer power to achieve it. In your essay, explain how Odysseus differs from other heroes in Greek mythology.
  • Ethical principles in Aesop’s Fables . Aesop’s Fables represent a unique example of Ancient Greek literature. The stories written by a slave have become a cultural phenomenon centuries later. Even today, the morals of his works stay relevant.
  • The influence of Greek tragedy on modern theater. Sophocles’ and Aeschylus’ plays can still be found in the repertoire of many theaters. Moreover, their works often serve as inspiration for contemporary playwrights.
  • The tragedy of Oedipus in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex . Oedipus is one of the best-known classic tragic heroes. In killing his father and marrying his mother, he fulfilled the prophecy of the Oracle. Through this play, Sophocles explores the themes of destiny and human flaws.
  • The variety of genres in the Metamorphoses. Millennia after Ovid’s Metamorphoses were written, scholars still argue about the genre of this work. Ovid blended historical events with fiction and experimented with the tone and themes of the poem.
  • The role of gods in Homer’s epic poems. In Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey , gods often determine the outcomes of major events and change heroes’ destinies. They can become powerful allies or dangerous enemies of humans. Explore how divine interventions change the course of the story in both poems. Focus on Athene, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hera, and Poseidon.
  • Cicero’s legacy in Western politics and philosophy. Cicero’s letters are widely recognized as some of the most influential works of Latin literature. John Locke, Voltaire, and Martin Luther are among the figures inspired by him. Cicero’s philosophy teaching also influenced revolutionary movements in France and America in the 17 th century.

Literary Essay Topics: 19th and 20th Century

Many great literary works in the English language were written in the golden era of the 19 th and 20 th centuries. These works, ranging from epic novels to short poems, provide insight into the themes that define the Anglophone world’s spirit.

  • The conflict between good and evil in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes . Sherlock Holmes—a character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—is considered the most famous fictional detective of all time. The Adventure of the Speckled Band is the favorite Holmes story of both the author and readers. Accordingly, many students choose to analyze this short story, which explores the themes of chaos.
  • Lord of the Flies as an allegory of modern society. Students of all ages have read Lord of the Flies , the classic novella by William Golding that explores the dangers of groupthink, the conflicts between rationality and irrationality, and morality and immorality., the classic novella by William Golding that explores the dangers of groupthink, the conflicts between rationality and irrationality, and morality and immorality.
  • The arbitrary nature of time and history in The Princess Bride . William Goldman’s The Princess Bride is such an entertaining story that it was adapted into an even more popular film. The key theme explored in this book is the power of love to conquer all.
  • The theme of money and greed in The Rocking Horse Winner . D. H. Lawrence is one of the masters of 20 th -century English literature, and his short story The Rocking Horse Winner clearly demonstrates his skill. In this tale of a struggling family, the themes of money and greed are thoroughly explored as a young boy uses clairvoyance gained on a rocking horse to predict race outcomes. 
  • Is Of Mice and Men a classic tale of struggle? The American writer John Steinbeck captured the hardships faced by ordinary people during the Great Depression. The main recurring theme among Of Mice and Men characters is striving after dreams, often futilely, as demonstrated by them all: from George and Lennie to Candy and Curley’s wife.
  • The themes of reality and fantasy in A Streetcar Named Desire . Tennessee Williams’s masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire is perhaps the most famous American dramatic play of all time. The central theme explored in this provocative play is the contemporary dependence of women on men.
  • Comparison of Ivan and Alexei in The Brothers Karamazov. The conflict between faith and doubt is arguably the central topic of Dostoevsky’s work, and The Brothers Karamazov is a perfect example of it. Alexei is a devout Orthodox Christian who believes in miracles. His brother, Ivan, rejects the concept of divine transcendence and embraces atheism.
  • Charles Dickens’ ambivalent attitude towards the poor. Dickens is widely considered an advocate of the poor’s rights and social change. Indeed, many of his impoverished characters are likable. However, Dickens also believes that the poor can be dangerous to society. Some of the works you can discuss are Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities , and Barnaby Rudge .
  • Magic realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude . Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is written in the genre of magical realism. Marquez tells a fictional story of the Buendia family, blending daily routine with extraordinary events, effectively blurring the line between reality and fiction. 
  • The differences between dystopian worlds in 1984 and A Brave New World . George Orwell and Aldous Huxley wrote the two most famous dystopian novels of the 20 th century. In both of them, the government has complete control over society, which is obtained through different strategies. In your essay, you may compare the policies in 1984 and A Brave New World . 
  • On the Road as the landmark novel of the Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac and other members of the Beat movement challenged the typical American middle-class lifestyle in their works. On the Road embodies the main principles of their philosophy. Some of the topics to explore are freedom, spontaneity, and nonconformity.
  • The role of the changing narrative in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury . The Sound and the Fury is often praised for its experimental form. Four narrators tell the story from different perspectives and in contrasting tones. Explore how the changing narrative affects the overall perception of the novel. 
  • Folklore, religion, and myth in Toni Morrison’s works. Toni Morrison is widely recognized as one of the most influential contemporary Black American writers. Her works are inspired mainly by her African heritage and Western mythology. Some of the novels to explore are Beloved and Song of Solo mon .
  • Expression of war experiences in American fiction. Wars in the 20 th century had a significant impact on American literature. Many writers participated in armed conflicts. Hemingway, Vonnegut, Salinger, and O’Brien are some of the authors who reflect on their war experiences in semi-autobiographic novels and short stories.

“My mother is a fish” quote.

Contemporary Literature Essay Topics

Excellent books are still being written! Once in a while, your instructor may ask you to analyze a more recent work. Here are a few great books to consider for your next essay.

  • The theme of overcoming obstacles and poverty in Reservation Blues . Sherman Alexie’s novel Reservation Blues tells the story of a group of young men from the Spokane Indian reservation. They obtain the enchanted guitar of a legendary bluesman. Aside from overcoming obstacles, this book explores many other themes of Native American life.
  • Family obligations in Montana 1948 by Larry Watson . This novella is set in the Western American state of Montana, where a young man’s family struggles to survive. You may explore the theme of family obligations in conjunction with loyalty and justice.
  • The presentation of grief in The Lovely Bones . In Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones , the protagonist Susie dies violently. And then, her spirit proceeds to watch over the investigation of her disappearance and her family members’ lives.
  • Self-sacrifice as one of the central themes of Harry Potter . You may also want to write about any other theme of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. But remember: when you write about a book that was turned into a movie, make sure to actually read the book!
  • Cultural and religious references in Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. One of the most acclaimed novels in recent years, Lincoln in the Bardo deals with the themes of death and the afterlife. A Tibetan concept of bardo inspires Saunders’ work, but the author also borrows ideas from other cultures and religions.
  • The theme of cultural assimilation in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. In her third novel, Adichie draws upon her personal experiences to tackle the issues African immigrants face when they move to the US. Explore the effects of immigration on the protagonist’s personality, views, and behavior.
  • Hypocrisy as the central theme of Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam. In Amsterdam , McEwan explores the contrast between public figures’ statements and their personal lives. None of the major characters in the novel act in accordance with their ethical standards. We suggest you focus on the figures of Clive, Vernon, and Julian.
  • Paul Beatty’s The Sellout : Satire on racial stereotypes. Beatty employs satire and irony to tackle some of the most pressing current issues in American society. The Sellout can be used as an encyclopedia of stereotypes associated with African Americans. Explore how the author uses literary devices to highlight their absurdity.
  • Cloning ethics in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go . In the dystopian world of Never Let Me Go, cloning is a common practice. However, clones are used only as organ donors; they are not perceived as human beings. Explain how Ishiguro uses the narrative to challenge this social norm. For example, his characters can make art and fall in love.
  • Comparison of the New and Old Gods in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. In American Gods , the narrative is based on the idea that humans created deities. The Old Gods in mythology represent the forces of nature, and The New Gods represent technologies that shape modern society. Discuss the similarities and differences between these two groups.

🖋️ Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Poetry

Many of the great works of literature are poems. Writing about them requires a special approach. Here’s a tip: don’t be afraid to quote the poem heavily and give several alternative interpretations. But first, check out this list of excellent topics:

  • A real-life war experience in Crane’s War is Kind . An American poet and writer Stephen Crane wrote the acclaimed American Civil War novel The Red Badge of Courage . But not everyone knows that he also wrote a collection of poems entitled War is Kind . Through these poems, he delved deep into the themes of war and violence based on his experience in the Spanish–American and Greco–Turkish Wars.
  • The theme of religion in John Donne’s sonnets. At the opposite end of the poetry spectrum, you can find the Elizabethan-era Englishman, John Donne. His works were written mainly in the form of sonnets focused on the themes of love, social criticism, death, and religion.
  • Mysticism in William Butler Yeats’s poetry. The occult, spiritualism, and Irish mythology profoundly influenced Yeats’ work. Many of his poems are preoccupied with the Apocalypse, immortality of the human soul, and the spirit world. Start your research with The Second Coming and Sailing to Byzantium.   
  • Allusions in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven . The Raven is widely recognized as one of the most famous poems of all time. It contains numerous references and allusions to the Bible, folklore, and other literary works. Examine and quote Poe’s sources of inspiration.
  • The meaning of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost . Robert Frost’s poetry is often praised for his rich metaphorical language. The Road Not Taken is a quintessential piece that’s often misunderstood. In your essay, you may explore its alternative interpretations.
  • The evolution of blank verse in English poetry. Blank verse emerged in English poetry in the 16 th century and has been used by some of the most influential poets since then. While its main features have remained largely unchanged, many prominent authors experimented with its form. For example, you can analyze the use of blank verse in the poetry of Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth.
  • Main themes and features of Beat poetry. The Beat movement played a pivotal role in the cultural processes in the post-war US. Beat poetry is characterized by rebellion, transgression, and experiments with form. Some of the authors to check out are Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Gary Snyder.
  • The narrator in Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself . Unlike many poets of his time, Whitman rejected the dichotomy of body and soul. In Song of Myself , the narrator represents the union of the “temporary” human body with the immortal soul. Consider exploring Whitman’s philosophy behind the notion of “self” in the poem.
  • William Blake’s influence on British and American poetry and culture. Blake’s contemporaries largely disregarded his poetry. However, his influence on the later generations is hard to overestimate. His values and ideas inspired the Pre-Raphaelites, the Beat Generation, and some of the prominent figures of the American music scene, including Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison. and Jim Morrison.

🎭 Literary Analysis: Shakespeare Essay Topics

Romeo and juliet essay topics.

How many Romeo and Juliet personal responses and analysis essays have already been written? There are too many of them to count, but there’s still room for more. Romeo and Juliet essay examples can help you find a unique topic for an essay about the play. Another option is to check out top Romeo and Juliet themes below:

  • How does fate affect the love plot in Romeo and Juliet ?
  • Concept of contrasts in the language of the play.
  • The significance of time in Romeo and Juliet
  • The tragic love theme of Romeo and Juliet as a cliché for romantic fatalism
  • Mercutio as a representation of loyalty
  • Montagues and Capulets: the conflict between generations
  • How is irony used in the play?
  • The role of the family in Romeo and Juliet
  • The social and historical context of the play
  • Nurse’s role in the death of Romeo and Juliet

Hamlet Essay Topics

Shakespeare’s Hamlet may be the most widely assigned play in the English courses. Here are the top Hamlet essay topics worth exploring.

  • The theme of disillusionment in Hamlet
  • Mistreatment of women in Hamlet as a representation of misogyny in Shakespeare’s times
  • How has the tragedy’s theme of madness affected modern literature?
  • What role does melancholy play in Hamlet ?
  • The connection between friendship and betrayal in the character of Laertes
  • Comedic elements in Hamlet
  • The impact of Gertrude and Claudius’ marriage on Hamlet’s revenge
  • What is the symbolism of The Mousetrap play?
  • The impact of introspection on Hamlet’s revenge
  • Analysis of the Denmark setting in Hamlet

Macbeth Essay Topics

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the last (and shortest) of the three big Shakespearean plays every high school student reads before graduation. Like the rest of William Shakespeare’s tragedies, it is full of meaningful themes that can serve as topics for literary analysis essays.

  • The corrupting influence of ambition in Macbeth
  • Supernatural elements in Macbeth
  • The impact of loyalty and betrayal on the plot
  • What does sleep symbolize in the play?
  • Why is Macbeth a victim of fate?
  • The role of darkness as a setting in Macbeth
  • Is blood a symbol of guilt in Macbeth ?
  • The causes of Macbeth’s mental deterioration
  • The impact of Macbeth’s hallucinations on his character development
  • Minor characters’ contributions to the play’s action

Lady Macbeths real name was Gruoch and Macbeth’s real name was Mac Bethad Mac Findlaich.

Shakespeare wrote many more plays beyond the big three listed above. Here are a few more topics and works that show the range of the Bard.

  • The theme of madness in King Lear . Shakespeare’s King Lear is one of the longest works by the Bard. Many actors feel that the title role is one of the most challenging available for an actor because of the character’s gradual descent into madness. Accordingly, “madness” is perhaps the best topic related to this play.
  • The presentation of love and adoration in Sonnet 18 . Shakespeare’s sonnets make excellent essay topics because they are so concise but rich in meaning. Love and devotion, which are expressed in Sonnet 18 and throughout his other sonnets, serve as great critical analysis essay topics.
  • The theme of the crown in Shakespeare’s Henry IV
  • Sexuality, sensuality, and spirituality in William Shakespeare’s sonnets
  • Ambition in Hamlet and Macbeth : choices of men and women characters
  • The use of disguise in The Twelfth Night
  • Different faces of love in Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays
  • Appearance as the most potent disguise in Shakespeare’s plays
  • The use of satire in William Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies
  • The line between acting and real life in Hamlet
  • Parallels between Shakespeare’s King Lear and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex
  • The use of allusion in The Tempest
  • The complexity of the female character in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra
  • Archetypal female characters in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets
  • William Shakespeare’s authorship: style, vocabulary, themes, and dates
  • The role of Shakespeare in the world of literature
  • How does William Shakespeare use the meter in his plays?
  • The depiction of the supernatural in Macbeth , The Tempest , and A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • The theme of race and ethnicity in Othello
  • Personal identity in Hamlet and Henry IV

By the way, you can find all of Shakespeare’s works on our website for free.

📚 English Literature Essay Topics: Different Authors

Some can find it easier to focus on particular authors and their works. Are you one of them? Here are possible topics for those who like traditional approaches.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Geoffrey Chaucer

  • Chaucer’s works of the French and Italian periods
  • Primary themes and motifs in Troilus and Criseyde
  • Women’s virtues, as seen by Chaucer and his contemporaries
  • Gender: conventions and innovations in Geoffrey Chaucer’s works
  • Chaucer’s role in the development of a heroic couplet
  • Chaucer’s use of the vernacular language: nobility and nation
  • Religious morals in The Canterbury Tales
  • The roots of class conflict in The Canterbury Tales
  • Chaucer’s influence on modern English dialects
  • The critique of clergy in The Canterbury Tales
  • The influence of medieval Italian poetry on Chaucer’s work
  • Central themes in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Book of the Duchess
  • The comparison of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida
  • Elements of comedy in The Canterbury Tales
  • Chaucer as a pioneer of rhyme royal in English poetry
  • Chaucer’s primary sources of inspiration in Roman poetry: Ovid and Virgil
  • The depiction of the middle class in The Canterbury Tales

Literary Essay Topics on John Keats

  • Different shapes of death in John Keats’s works
  • What was wrong with Keats’s Otho the Great ?
  • Byron’s influence on Keats’s style and themes
  • The uniqueness of John Keats’ imagery
  • Keats’s letters and their influence on the English literature
  • Greek classics as a source of inspiration for Keats
  • Keats’ stance on social and political issues of his time
  • The importance of nature in Keats’ odes
  • The themes of melancholy and isolation in Keats’ poetry
  • Keats’ perception of art and its role in Ode on a Grecian Urn
  • The polemics on Keats’ statement “Beauty is truth”
  • The values of Romanticism in Keats’ poetry
  • Keats’ concept of negative capability and its examples in his poetry
  • The differences between the Romantic poetry of Keats and Coleridge
  • Keats’ attitude towards Christianity and pagan mythology

Literature Essay Topics on Oscar Wilde

  • A perfect wife as depicted in An Ideal Husband
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray as the aesthete’s manifesto
  • Wilde’s essential inspirations and the development of his views
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray : will beauty save the world?
  • Oscar Wilde’s personal traits in his characters
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray : Lord Henry’s morality or immorality
  • Irony, sarcasm, and satire in Oscar Wilde’s works
  • The use of metaphors in The Ballad of Reading Gaol
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray : was the young man innocent? 
  • Conventions and innovations in Oscar Wilde’s fairy stories
  • Oscar Wilde as the most celebrated master of paradox
  • Play on words in Oscar Wilde’s major works
  • Christian theme in De Profundis
  • The Importance of Being Earnest as the critique of Victorian society
  • The role of the Dance of the Seven Veils in Wilde’s Salome
  • Wilde’s aesthetic philosophy in his essay The Critic as Artist
  • The Soul of Man under Socialism : an expression of Wilde’s political views
  • Wilde as one of the key figures of the Decadent movement
  • Women characters in Oscar Wilde’s comedies
  • The theme of sacrifice in Wilde’s short stories
  • The dichotomy of body and soul in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Fisherman and His Soul
  • The recurring motifs in Oscar Wilde’s comedies

George Orwell Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Orwell’s imagery in the depiction of totalitarian regimes
  • George Orwell’s background: inspirations for themes and symbols
  • Orwell’s views on the English language and literature
  • The historical context of 1984 and Animal Farm
  • The role of the media in Orwell’s characters’ lives
  • The character of the Big Brother in 1984
  • Naturalism and imagery in The Road to Wigan Pier
  • Why was Animal Farm regarded as controversial in the 1950s?
  • Orwell’s religious views in Lear, Tolstoy, and the Fool
  • Winston Smith’s journey to freedom in 1984

💡 Literary Analysis Topics in Non-Fiction

The world of literature goes far beyond William Shakespeare and fiction in general. Here is a bunch of more literary analysis paper topics for other great works of literature that deal with real-life events.

  • Religious faith and dehumanization in Night . Elie Wiesel’s classic memoir of the Holocaust is a difficult book for many students to read. And yet, you may need to write a Night by Elie Wiesel essay at some point. Religion and dehumanization are prominent themes that can serve as great topics.
  • The power of nature in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild . The story chronicles the journey of 22-year-old Christopher McCandless from modern society into a 2-year trip in the wilderness of the western United States. This work of non-fiction explores the themes of escape, community, and the power of nature. (Warning: things do not end well for McCandless along the Stampede Trail of Alaska.)
  • Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King as a source of inspiration for modern politicians and activists. Based on his Letter from Birmingham Jail , MLK’s Why We Can’t Wait is a study of the origins of the civil rights movement in the US. Analyze how activists and politicians can use ideas from this book in the 21 st century.
  • The themes of religion and technological progress in The Education of Henry Adams. In his autobiography, Henry Adams explores the influence of religion and technological progress on society. In the industrial world, technology has become a new religion. You may contrast and compare technological and religious societies in Adams’ work.
  • The banality of evil in Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. Hannah Arendt offers an original perspective on the nature of war crimes. According to her, ordinary people are capable of the most terrible deeds under specific circumstances. In your essay, explore Arendt’s concept of “the banality of evil.” 
  • The role of photography in modern society, according to Susan Sontag. In her book On Photography , Susan Sontag explores how the role of this medium has been changing throughout the 20 th century. Analyze her arguments to establish the relationship between photography and political and social processes.
  • A Room of One’s Own as a manifesto of women’s literature. A Room of One’s Own reflects the women’s position in the literary scene. Woolf concludes that women’s writing capabilities match those of men. However, they often fail to reach their full potential because of the flawed structure of a male-dominated society.
  • Haruki Murakami’s Underground: a study of Japanese society. For Underground , Murakami conducted a series of interviews after the terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway. Rather than focusing on the act itself, the author uses this opportunity to explore the social issues that plague Japanese society.
  • T. S. Eliot’s literary criticism and views on poetry. T. S. Eliot is one of the most important literary critics and theorists of the early 20 th century. His theories and arguments have largely shaped the New Criticism movement in literature. Analyze the ideas expressed in Tradition and the Individual Talent and Hamlet and His Problems .

⭐ Literary Analysis Topics: Other Ideas

Literary essays don’t have to be devoted to analyzing a particular work. They may also include textual analysis essays, literary interpretations, critical response essays, and topic analyses. Here are some excellent options for you to consider:

  • Character development of various protagonists. You may write an analytical essay describing and interpreting changes in the central characters of different novels. Try to be precise, provide examples, and prove the significance of these changes. You can consider the development of Soames in The Forsyte Saga or the title character in David Copperfield .
  • Context analysis of a historical period. Your analysis paper can be devoted to the settings of the short story, play, poem, or novel. Make emphasis on the role of the context in explaining the characters and the key ideas. For example, you can explore the wartime setting in Gone with the Wind .
  • Analysis of genre conventions. Another good choice is to dwell upon the practices used by various authors belonging to the same literary genre. You can write a critical essay about a realistic, romantic, gothic, or any other kind of novel and the author’s ability to meet or challenge genre expectations.
  • The impact of an author’s life on their legacy. The background of a novelist, short-story writer, poet, or playwright may also be of great interest to the reader. However, it is not enough to narrate the author’s life: you must be able to connect it with their style and themes. The most demonstrative analysis examples may include Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway , and Lord Byron.
  • Comparative analysis of two authors. It is also a good idea to compare several authors. A critical evaluation essay may estimate their impact on the development of their genre. If these authors come from different backgrounds, it is also possible to evaluate how the culture they belonged to made a difference. For example, write about Dickens vs. Thackeray or Joyce vs. Woolf.
  • Comparative analysis of two texts. If you don’t want to compare authors, you may try comparing two literary works on the same topic or belonging to the same epoch or genre. For example, try analyzing the similarities and differences between Canterbury Tales and Decameron .
  • Analysis of a literary work’s structure. Analysis topics may include the stream-of-consciousness technique, theater of the absurd, etc. The idea is to show how new expressive means transformed the traditional approach to plot building and character development.
  • The role of irony in short stories. If you are to analyze a short story, you may describe how the author uses irony to communicate their message. Show how it creates meaning and what underlies it. Numerous authors employ irony as the major tool in their short stories, including Jerome K. Jerome and Salinger.
  • Analyzing the climax in a novel. Describing how the author builds the plot to reach the culmination is a good option for a novel critical analysis essay. Track how the tension is created and how it is released when the climax is reached. For example, you can try analyzing the climax in To Kill a Mockingbird . 
  • Mood expression in a novel of your choice. Your essay may investigate how the vocabulary and grammar chosen by an author contribute to the text’s atmosphere. You can consider analyzing Lolita or Sons and Lovers .
  • The role of dialogue in plays. Your critical paper may highlight what means the playwright uses to make the characters’ speech expressive. For example, examine Oscar Wilde’s plays or Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot .
  • Stage directions in plays. You may also want to pay attention to the importance of the author’s notes and scene directions in a play. They are particularly crucial in modern drama. Consider analyzing Beckett’s Waiting for Godot or Shaw’s Heartbreak House.
  • The use of allegory in poems. It’s an excellent topic for poem analysis. You can suggest your own literary interpretation of an allegory or consider why the author opted for this device. For example, consider analyzing the allegories in Vision of Judgement .
  • An open ending in a novel. Suppose the work under analysis doesn’t have a conflict resolution. In that case, your critical evaluation essay can give arguments for the author’s choice and interpret its meaning and possible continuation scenarios. For example, you may analyze an open ending in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.
  • Comparison of critical opinions on a novel. If the piece you have read ranks among the best-known works in the world, it would be a good idea to compare literary criticism examples related to this work. You may select two different critics and juxtapose their views. For example, try comparing critical opinions on Mrs. Dalloway .
  • Analyzing side characters in literary works. If your task is to analyze a character, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should write about a protagonist. A more creative approach would be to pick a static character that doesn’t go through any transformations throughout the book and suggest why the author made them this way. One option is to write about side characters in Vanity Fair .
  • The narrative voice in novels. It can be challenging yet enjoyable to describe the narrative voice and focalization techniques that help the reader see the events in a certain way. It is especially complicated when a text has several points of view. For example, you may choose to analyze the narrative voice in Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom! or As I Lay Dying .
  • The narrators in literature. The previous topic can be narrowed: you can take a work written from a first-person point of view and draw parallels between the author and the main character. For example, you can consider writing about the narrator in Moby Dick . 
  • The cultural background of Dumas’ novels. In the case of historical novels, an analytical paragraph may be devoted to the historical and cultural background. Any of Alexandre Dumas’ novels, such as The Three Musketeers , may serve as perfect literature examples to write about.
  • Imagery used by various poets. You can analyze specific images that poets use in their works. For example, try analyzing how Walt Whitman uses industrial imagery in his works.

Alice Walker won Pulitzer prize.

Profound Literary Analysis Topics in Women’s Literature

Literary analysis on the topics of gender and women in society is critical to understanding the modern world. Here are a few powerful essay topics in this area.

  • The disruption of traditional gender roles in The Color Purple . According to New Republic, this National Book Award-winning work is considered a cultural touchstone for African American women . It features many heavy themes, such as sexism and racism. Keep in mind that this book is not for the faint of heart.
  • The themes of family and generational differences in Alice Walker’s short story Everyday Use . The short story is about heirloom possessions passed down from one generation of women to another.
  • Social standing and wealth as the two key themes in Pride and Prejudice . The protagonist of this book, Elizabeth Bennet, must choose between two suitors. One is an amiable man. The other is better established in society but has a colder personality.
  • Marriage and social status in Emma . Emma is the tale of a young woman less interested in securing her own marriage than her sisters. You can analyze the constraints placed upon women in 17 th -century society as reflected in this book.
  • Women’s role in society and gender roles according to The Great Lawsuit . The Great Lawsuit is often considered one of the most important early feminist works. The author, Margaret Fuller, argues that gender equality is a crucial aspect of a progressive society. She describes an ideal relationship between a man and a woman as an intellectual companionship. 
  • Dystopia and feminism in A Handmaid’s Tale. In A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood describes a world where women’s societal role is reduced to producing children. This work largely follows the traditions of classic dystopian novels written by Orwell and Huxley. Explore how the presence of the feminist discourse makes Atwood’s work stand out. 
  • Gertrude Stein’s experiments with form and style. Gertrude Stein’s work is notable for her distinctive avant-garde style. Stein was an avid art collector, and trends in visual arts influenced her writings. Her narratives are characterized by the original use of tenses, repetitions, and archaisms.
  • The stream of consciousness in Virginia Woolf’s work . Virginia Woolf was one of the first writers to systematically use the stream of consciousness in her works. The narratives of her novels, such as Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, are rooted in the descriptions of characters’ emotions and thoughts.
  • Political writings of Mercy Otis Warren. Mercy Otis Warren is famous for her political poems and plays written during the American Revolution. Explain how she used political satire to criticize the British rule. Start your research with the plays The Adulateur, The Defeat, and The Group .
  • Gender inequality in Jane Eyre . Widely recognized as one of the most successful works of women’s literature, Jane Eyre was a revolutionary novel for its time. It depicts the struggles of women in their fight for independence and equality in patriarchal Victorian society .
  • The blend of fiction and reality in The Yellow Wallpaper. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote The Yellow Wallpaper to document the trauma and stress she had experienced due to “rest therapy” prescribed to her by a psychiatrist. Back then, women suffering from depression were discouraged from any intellectual activity, as it was thought that “domestic life” would benefit them. In Gilman’s story, this treatment ultimately drives the protagonist to insanity.
  • Cleopatra in literature: from Geoffrey Chaucer to Margaret George
  • The depiction of Eve in Milton’s Paradise Lost
  • Archetypical female and male characters in Beowulf
  • Emmy’s submissiveness and Rebecca’s quick-wittedness in Vanity Fair
  • William Makepeace Thackeray’s Becky Sharp as an antihero
  • Becky Sharp as seen by Thackeray’s contemporaries and modern readers
  • Women empowerment and independence in Jane Austen’s novels
  • Women’s love and death: Shakespeare’s Ophelia and Wilde’s Sibyl
  • A Room of One’s Own : a woman’s manifesto still relevant now
  • First female voices in the Middle Ages: Aelia Eudocia Augusta
  • The Brontë sisters: Lady writers who broke the rules
  • Gender roles as depicted by Maugham in Theatre
  • This is the woman’s world: feminist utopias and dystopias
  • Female writers: themes explored in the 1910s vs. 2010s
  • Women characters’ virtues and vices in the 19th century
  • Women of color: themes of violence, discrimination, and empowerment
  • A Doll’s House as seen by Ibsen’s contemporaries
  • Is Ibsen’s A Doll’s House still relevant today?
  • Beauty standards as women’s oppression in The Bluest Eye
  • The complexity of the mother-daughter relationship in Tony Morrison’s Beloved
  • The evolvement of masculinity from medieval to postmodern literature
  • Masculinity in The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway
  • Masculinity, identity, and queerness in Tennessee Williams’s works
  • Gender roles in utopias and dystopias: More and Huxley
  • Sexuality and gender stereotypes in Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Charles Dickens’s depiction of aging men and women
  • Fairy tales as sources of gender stereotypes 

Powerful Literary Analysis Topics within the Subject of Race

  • Colonialism in J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians . A short Waiting for the Barbarians summary should capture the narrative of the escalation of tensions between a fictional colonial town and its surrounding indigenous population. When the protagonist helps a native woman, he begins to doubt the humanity of colonialism.
  • The portrayal of racism in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness . Heart of Darkness is the chilling tale of young Marlow’s voyage up the Congo River. There he meets the wicked ivory trader Kurtz. The book explores the themes of imperialism and racism. It also questions the civility of Western society over supposedly “savage” indigenous people.
  • The conflict between man and nature in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn . Mark Twain is one of the greatest American writers and satirists. But his masterpiece The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn delved into themes that would make some of the most serious literary analysis essay topics, such as the theme of freedom vs. slavery.
  • The theme of prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird . Harper Lee’s novel was an instant classic upon release. To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the American South, and, like many books by Southern authors, it explores the themes of race and justice. 
  • Anti-slavery narrative and racist stereotypes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin . Uncle Tom’s Cabin was one of the first universally acclaimed novels to tackle slavery. However, it is often criticized for its stereotypical portrayal of Black characters. Hence, it remains one of the most controversial pieces of American literature.
  • De Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk as the precursor of the Civil Rights movement. De Bois’ essays have largely laid the groundwork for the campaigns for racial equality in the 20 th century. He argued that African Americans deserved fundamental rights the White population had: voting, getting a higher education, and being treated fairly according to the law. 
  • The notion of Black pride in A Raisin in the Sun . Lorraine Hansberry’s famous play touches upon topics of racial identity and pride inspired by real events. A Black family wants to purchase a house in a White neighborhood, but they are dissuaded from buying it. Eventually, they refuse to accept the buyout offer and move to their new place as planned.
  • Jefferson as a folk hero in A Lesson Before Dying . In A Lesson Before Dying , Ernest J. Gaines tells a story of a young Black man wrongfully accused of murder. Treated by White people as a sub-human, Jefferson completely loses his self-esteem at some point. However, with the help of a local Black teacher, he regains his pride and meets death with dignity. Explain how Jefferson’s transformation makes him a folk hero.
  • The impact of discriminatory laws on the life of African Americans in Fences. August Wilson’s Fences explores how discriminatory laws and attitudes defined the life of African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement. The protagonist, Troy Maxson, is a talented baseball player whose life is ruined because he didn’t get a chance to play in the professional league due to racial restrictions. 
  • Internalized racism in Morrison’s Song of Solomon . In her book Song of Solomon , Toni Morrison explores the issue of internalized racism. Hagar and Macon Dead are the characters to study. Macon Dead, a Black entrepreneur, hates people of color and wants to leave his community. Hagar envies women with a lighter skin tone, as she sees them as superior to her.
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings : A story of hatred and trauma. Maya Angelou is renowned for her autobiographical novels dealing with challenging topics like racism, trauma, and violence. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings addresses the issues she faced growing up as a Black child in a White neighborhood.

Death-Related Literature Essay Topics

  • Death in works of dying writers: Keats and Blake
  • Death in Milton’s poetry: imagery and symbols
  • Emily Dickinson’s fascination with decay, degradation, and death
  • John Keats’s and William Shakespeare’s depictions of death
  • Views on death in the Renaissance literature
  • Murder and suicide in Shakespeare’s tragedies Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet
  • Depictions of death in Postmodernist literature
  • Aging as seen in medieval, Renaissance, and Postmodernist literature
  • Death and decay in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Love, life, and death in Huxley’s dystopian society
  • Murder in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men
  • Herman Melville’s Moby Dick : The concepts of life and death
  • Simon’s death in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
  • Kate Chopin’s ironic take on death in The Story of an Hour  
  • Seneca’s life and philosophy: Death as liberation
  • The role of death in existentialism
  • The theme of death in Ernest Hemingway’s works
  • The depiction of heaven and hell in Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come
  • The concept of free death in Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy
  • Gothic writers’ fascination with death
  • Hades: The realm of the dead in Greek mythology

Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Man and Nature

  • Dehumanizing nature: Robinson Crusoe and Lord of the Flies
  • Struggles with nature: Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Paulsen’s Hatchet
  • Nature’s wonders and dangers in Emily Dickenson’s works
  • Natural forces: from Homer to H. G. Wells
  • Power of natural forces in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest
  • The depiction of nature in Fears in Solitude by Coleridge
  • William Wordsworth’s poetic language and symbols used to describe nature
  • Nature in Brave New World : urban and rural settings 
  • Nature in post-apocalyptic novels: decay and revival
  • The role of nature in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
  • The conflict between man and nature in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea  
  • Post-apocalyptic fiction as the critique of industrial society
  • Environmentalism in Ursula Le Guin’s works
  • Personal life and climate change in Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior
  • The role of nature in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden  
  • The emergence of eco-fiction—a new genre in world literature
  • Nature in Romanticism: Comparison of Shelley’s, Wordsworth’s, and Keats’ poetry
  • Natty Bumppo’s and Judge Temple’s conflicting views on nature in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pioneers
  • The impact of country life on the character development in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses  

Literary Essay Topics on Religion

  • Religious influences: biblical themes and allusions in Beowulf
  • Religion as another burden in The Bluest Eye
  • Views on religious conventions in Milton’s Paradise Lost
  • Jonathan Swift’s satirical view of religions in Gulliver’s Travels
  • The role of religion in Charles Dickens’s works
  • The evolvement of religious beliefs in John Dryden’s works
  • Religious controversies as depicted in John Milton’s Paradise Lost
  • A spiritual journey in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure
  • Biblical references in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick
  • Alternative narrative of the Biblical events in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita
  • The meaning of Friedrich Nietzsche’s statement “God is Dead”
  • Billy’s Christian values in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five  
  • The figure of Moses in Biblical and Quranic narratives
  • Influence of The Pilgrim’s Progress on British and American literature
  • Buddhist and Hindu motives in Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha
  • Immanuel Kant’s critique of the arguments for the existence of God and his discussion of morality
  • Søren Kierk e gaard’s critique of Christianity
  • Christian narratives and metaphors in C.S. Lewis’ works

Literary Analysis Topics: Justice and Judgment

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame : who was the monster?
  • Justice and judgment in To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The role of judgment in Jane Austen’s novels
  • Judgment in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child
  • A view of justice in John Milton’s Paradise Lost
  • Justice in dystopian novels: works of Orwell and Huxley
  • Judgment and guilt in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
  • The difference between justice and revenge in Aeschylus Oresteia
  • The genre of legal thriller in American literature
  • The themes of guilt, responsibility, and punishment in Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader
  • Justice and judgment in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment
  • Courtroom drama in American and British literature
  • Behavior modification experiment as an alternative to a prison sentence in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange  
  • Jeremy Bentham’s concept of panopticon prison and its critique in the works of other authors
  • Michel Foucault’s critique of the Western penal system
  • The role of the judgment of Paris in the Trojan War according to Greek mythology
  • Depiction of racial injustice in the works of African American authors

Literature Essay Topics on Good & Evil

  • A dichotomy of good and evil in the Middle Ages
  • Monsters and heroes in Beowulf : Beowulf, Hrothgar, Grendel
  • Wilde’s aesthetics: ugly is worse than evil
  • John Milton’s Satan : the good, the bad, and the beautiful
  • Victorian literary tradition: societal norms and personal happiness
  • Villains in the 19 th – and 20 th -century literary works
  • The good and the bad: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde   
  • Evil forces of death in The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Presentation of good and evil in The Tempest characters
  • The contrast between Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights
  • Young Goodman Brown : a conflict between morality and temptation
  • The Creature and the humans in Frankenstein

Literary Analysis Essay Topics on War & Peace

  • Depiction of war in Shakespeare’s plays
  • The war between archangels and demons in Paradise Lost
  • War in Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children
  • War and peace in George Orwell’s 1984
  • Margaret Mitchell’s and Toni Morrison’s views on the Civil War
  • War as a part of human nature in Faulkner’s A Fable
  • Steinbeck’s exploration of injustice in The Grapes of Wrath
  • Wrongs of the modern society in Palahniuk’s Fight Club
  • The themes of war and nationality in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient
  • The Civil War as the background for Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
  • Main themes in Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Depiction of war in Alexandre Dumas’ historical novels
  • The Cold War in John Le Carre’s novels
  • The political context of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible: The Cold War and McCarthyism
  • Depiction of war in children’s fiction
  • Leo Tolstoy’s views on history in War and Peace
  • Anti-militarism in Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms
  • Literature as a tool of cultural influence during the Cold War: The case of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago

Literary Essay Topics on Vices on the Society

  • Thackeray: the culture of the 19th century as Vanity Fair
  • Dickens’s perspectives concerning social injustice in Oliver Twist
  • Ethnicity, discrimination, and identity in Orwell’s Burmese Days
  • Vices of totalitarian societies in George Orwell’s 1984
  • Injustice, torture, and dehumanization in Elie Wiesel’s Night
  • Vices of society in Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
  • J’Accuse: Emile Zola’s letter as critique of antisemitism and corruption
  • The emergence of transgressive fiction as a protest against conventional society
  • Critique of consumer society in Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World
  • Social satire and political commentary in Harold Pinter’s later plays
  • Ray Bradbury’s science fiction as a means of social criticism
  • The emergence of dystopia: Evgeny Zamyatin’s We
  • Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon as a critique of the totalitarian society
  • Claudius as an embodiment of human vices in Robert Graves’ I, Claudius
  • Geoffrey Chaucer’s critique of the wrongs of society in The Canterbury Tales

Interesting Literature Topics to Analyze: Literary Influences

  • Percy Bysshe Shelley’s interpretation of the Prometheus myth
  • William Shakespeare’s borrowings from ancient Greek writings and myths
  • Myths as a source of inspiration for Byron and Keats
  • Virginia Wolf’s fascination with Greek literature and Hellenism
  • James Joyce’s interpretation and use of Homer’s The Odyssey
  • Salome : Oscar Wilde’s retelling of a biblical story
  • John Milton’s exploration and interpretation of a biblical story
  • The influence of Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works
  • Biblical motifs in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • Don Quixote as an inspiration for Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot
  • Beowulf’s impact on J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit
  • Shakespearean myths in Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Literature Essay Topics: Various Genres

  • The evolution of horror fiction: from Mary Shelley to Stephen King
  • The place of fantasy in the modern literature
  • Why have fantasy novels gained such popularity today?
  • Fantasy novels by Tolkien and Martin: styles, imagery, themes
  • Major elements of modern fantasy novels and stories
  • The origins of fantasy fiction: the earliest works
  • The evolution of adventure fiction: from Homer to Fleming
  • Horror fiction: Stoker’s Dracula vs. Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Theologus Autodidactus as an example of science fiction
  • Merging scientific and poetic elements in science fiction poetry
  • Comparing tragicomedies of Ancient Greece and 20th-century Europe
  • Significant features of a tragicomedy in postmodernist and metamodernist writings
  • Primary components of a coming-of-age novel: female and male perspectives
  • Elements of the coming-of-age novel in London’s Martin Eden
  • Satire in contemporary British and American literature
  • Satire or cynical humor: exploring Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary
  • Literary devices in naturalistic writing: Emile Zola’s approach
  • Elements of an antinovel in Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy
  • Early examples of short stories: Charles Dickens’s style
  • Timeframes and symbols in Jonathan Nolan’s Memento Mori
  • Dystopian fiction in the 20th and 21st centuries
  • Coming-of-age novel or American dream novel: The Great Gatsby
  • The role of education and the media in dystopias
  • Crime fiction: is it pulp reading or high literature?
  • The suspense in Agatha Christies’ and Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings
  • The vampire in the 19th-century and 21st-century literature

Literary Topics: Uncommon Themes in Literature

  • Allegory and choice of animals in Orwell’s Animal Farm
  • Allegories in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily
  • Multiculturalism and allusions in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
  • Faulkner’s metaphors in The Sound and the Fury
  • Imagery in Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem The Raven
  • Music and enigma in The Raven
  • The role of personification in William Blake’s poetry
  • Comparing Ancient Greek and William Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter
  • The function of trochaic meter in Shakespeare’s works
  • Symbolism and imagery in William Blake’s poem Ah Sunflower
  • Symbols and metaphors in The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Flower symbolism in D.H. Lawrence Odour of Chrysanthemums
  • Color as a symbol of Morrison’s God Help the Child
  • Symbolism in Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas  
  • Satire in Absalom and Achitophel by John Dryden
  • Jane Austen’s personal traits in the narrator of Persuasion
  • Early forms of the stream of consciousness: Jane Austen’s style
  • Epistolary novels: works of Bram Stocker and Mary Shelley
  • Slave’s narrative in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
  • Peculiarities of addressing the reader in Shakespeare’s sonnets
  • Virginia Wolf’s stream of consciousness: narration or confession?
  • The narrator in Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage
  • Authorial intrusion as a way to entice readers

🖊️ Literary Analysis Prompts: Top 21

We’ve gathered a total of 21 excellent literary analysis prompts for you. They cover a wide variety of genres and epochs, so you’ll surely find something that suits your needs. Check them out to gain inspiration for your assignment or project!

The Cask of Amontillado Literary Analysis Prompt

  • The central theme of The Cask of Amontillado is revenge. In your essay, you can analyze how suspense contributes to the revenge plot.
  • You may also explore the story’s tone and how it helps to build tension.
  • Alternatively, you can focus on the Gothic elements and their impact on the story’s atmosphere.

A Rose for Emily Literary Analysis Prompt

  • There are several important symbols in A Rose for Emily , such as a strand of hair, Emily’s house, or the ticking watch. You can dive deeper into their meaning and significance.
  • You may also focus on the story’s themes. They include death and conflict between generations.
  • Try analyzing literary devices Faulkner uses, including metaphors, irony, and personification. How do they contribute to the story’s mood?

The Story of an Hour Literary Analysis Prompt

  • One of the central themes featured in The Story of an Hour is freedom. Analyze what kind of freedom is discussed and how free the main character really is.
  • You may also explore Kate Chopin’s writing style. For example, focus on how irony complements the story’s plot and tone.
  • Another aspect that you can focus on is symbolism . Notable examples include time, death, and heart trouble.

Tell-Tale Heart Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Analyze why Edgar Allan Poe chose to tell the story in the first person. How does it contribute to the gloomy tone?
  • Or, you may focus on the story’s themes : guilt, confinement, and mental health. How are they represented?
  • Finally, you can examine the symbols in Tell-Tale Heart , such as the house, the bed, the bedroom, and the eye. Try to find out the meaning behind them.

Fahrenheit 451 Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Explore the use of animal imagery and the lack of nature descriptions in the novel.
  • You can also focus on the harmful effect of technology and its contribution to the dystopian world of Fahrenheit 451 .
  • The story’s central theme is censorship vs. freedom of speech. You may explore this conflict in your essay.

Prompt for a Literary Analysis of The Canterbury Tales

  • Analyze the themes of The Canterbury Tales . These include deceit, the church’s corruption, and the importance of company.
  • Focus on examining the writing style. Try to find out how it contributes to the tales’ tone and atmosphere.
  • You may also explore the symbols, such as clothing, appearance, and spring. If you’re curious about this literary work, check out our article on the symbols in The Canterbury Tales .

Prompt for a Literary Analysis of Barn Burning

  • Consider examining the conflict between loyalty to one’s family and obedience to the law.
  • Focus on analyzing the symbols of Barn Burning , such as the soiled egg and fire. 
  • You can also explore the role of darkness in the story. Dive deeper into its contribution to the tone of Barn Burning .

Make sure to check out our Barn Burning study guide to learn more facts about the story.

Death of a Salesman Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Examine how the author covers the American dream theme in Death of a Salesman . What is the characters’ interpretation of the American dream?
  • You can also try analyzing the symbols in the play, such as diamonds, seeds, the rubber hose, and Linda’s stockings.
  • You may also focus on exploring the mythological figures connected with the story. Dive deeper into the comparisons to the Greek gods, such as Hercules and Adonis.

Want to know more? Check out our Death of a Salesman study guide .

Frankenstein Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • In your essay, you can focus on the symbols of Frankenstein , such as darkness and fire. Why are they important?
  • Another aspect you can concentrate on is the point of view. Mary Shelley writes from the perspective of 3 different characters. What does it help to achieve?
  • You can also explore the novel’s themes: sublime nature, family, creation, and dangerous knowledge. Check out our article on the themes in Frankenstein to learn more about them.

Hamlet Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • There are numerous themes in Hamlet that you can examine in your essay, including revenge, the supernatural, death, corruption, and politics.
  • You can also focus on the symbols of the story and their significance. They include Hamlet’s dark clothes, the skull , and the weather.
  • One of the motifs in Hamlet is misogyny. You can analyze its representation in the play.

To understand the play better, check out our Hamlet study guide .

Hamlet has been translated into Klingon.

Prompt for a Literary Analysis of Night by Elie Wiesel

  • One of the themes of Night is silence. You can explore why it is important and what it represents.
  • You can also focus on the symbolism of night and fire . Try to find out the meaning behind them.
  • Consider analyzing the characters in the novel and their actions in dramatic situations. Check out our article on characters in Night to learn more.

Othello Literary Analysis Prompt

  • One of the central themes of Othello is isolation and its dangers. Examine how it is portrayed.
  • Another theme you can analyze is that of justice. Try focusing on how the characters are driven by the desire to do always the right thing.
  • Consider exploring the famous metaphors from the play, such as jealousy being a “green-eyed monster.”

If you want to understand this literary work better, make sure to check out our Othello study guide .

Pride and Prejudice Literary Analysis Prompt

  • When it comes to the themes in Pride and Prejudice , you can focus on integrity, love, family, gender, class, and reputation.
  • Another central theme of the novel is marriage. Discuss the importance of marriage and its connection to social status and money.
  • In your essay, you can elaborate on the symbolism of dancing and its significance.

Don’t forget to check out our study guide on Pride and Prejudice to learn more about the novel’s elements.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Consider analyzing the motifs of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight : games, the color green, and the seasons.
  • Apart from the motifs, you can also examine the themes of nature, chivalry, Christianity, courtesy, and truth. To learn more about them, check out our article on the themes of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight .
  • Finally, you may explore the symbolism of the green girdle. It’s an essential element of the poem and deserves special attention.

The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • One of the most popular symbols of The Great Gatsby is the green light. You can focus on exploring its iconic status in world literature. 
  • One of the central themes of The Great Gatsby is the American dream . Analyze how it is portrayed and the author’s attitude to it.
  • Another idea for an essay is to write about the novel’s characters: Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, the Buchanans, and others. Make sure to read our article on The Great Gatsby characters to understand them better.

The Lottery Literary Analysis Prompt

  • What role do family ties play in The Lottery ? You can dive deeper into this motif and analyze its meaning and importance.
  • Another central theme of The Lottery is tradition. Your essay can focus on how dangerous it is to follow conventional practices blindly.
  • There are several symbols in the story, but the lottery itself is the key one. You can explore what it represents. And don’t forget to check out our analysis of The Lottery to learn more.

Kafka’s Metamorphosis Literary Analysis Prompt

  • One of the major themes of Metamorphosis is psychological distance. You can analyze how the main character’s transformation leads to his alienation.
  • Explore the story’s recurring symbols, such as food, the father’s uniform , and the portrait of a woman wearing furs.
  • Another point that you can focus on is the motifs of the story. They include transformation and sleep.

You’re welcome to read our The Metamorphosis study guide to learn more about the story.

The Necklace Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Consider analyzing the story’s themes. Some examples are greed, the deceptiveness of appearances, and vanity. Check out our article on The Necklace’s themes to learn all about them.
  • You can also focus on exploring the symbolism of the necklace . Try to dive deeper into how a piece of jewelry is connected to high status and wealth.
  • Explore how the class conflict is presented in The Necklace . You can also analyze the author’s attitude to it.

The Odyssey Literary Analysis Prompt

  • In your essay, focus on the epic’s main themes: vengeance, hospitality, and loyalty.
  • Homer uses many epithets in The Odyssey to describe the sea, such as “wine-dark.” Look into what they may represent.
  • Another good point for discussion is the symbolism. Consider discussing the significance of the wedding bed, the sea, eagles, and food.

To understand the poem better, check out our The Odyssey study guide .

The Yellow Wallpaper Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • The wallpaper is the central symbol of the story. In your essay, try to uncover its significance and how it affects the main character.
  • You can also analyze how Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses different types of irony in the story. Examples include dramatic, verbal, and situational irony.
  • You can also focus on The Yellow Wallpaper’s themes. Some of them are self-expression, mental illness, gender roles, miscommunication, and the role of women in marriage.

Don’t forget to check out our study guide if you want to know more.

Wuthering Heights Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Explore the symbolism of moors, nature, and ghosts. Emily Bronte uses these symbols to represent not only abstract ideas but also characters’ personalities.
  • You can also examine the central themes of Wuthering Heights. Some of them are love and passion, class conflict, revenge, and the supernatural. 
  • Another point worth writing about is nature imagery and how the author uses it to represent the characters’ personalities. To learn about it, make sure to check out our Wuthering Heights analysis .

✍️ Writing a Literary Analysis: Step by Step

Now, after you’ve decided on your topic, it is time to write your analysis.

Don’t know where to start? Well, we got your back! Here are some steps for you to write a great literary essay.

Carefully read the text and think of possible topics. Is there anything that stands out? What did you personally find interesting? Focus on what you will enjoy researching and writing about.
Think of the text’s idea. Find out the main point of the literary work. Pay attention to the settings, plot, dialogue, tone, writing techniques, figures of speech, and character development.
Now, it’s time to create a . Try to make it clear but debatable.
After you are done with the thesis, try to find more evidence in the text and organize it. Make sure your thesis interprets the evidence you found.
Create a rough draft. Making an outline and a bubble map can help organize your ideas and draw the connections between them.
You can now revise your rough draft. Don’t forget to proofread your essay and check your punctuation, writing style, transitions, grammar, and paper structure. Make sure your thesis is stated clearly, and your evidence supports it.

Plagiarism definition.

If you wish to learn more, you can check out our guide on how to write a literary analysis.

Best Tips for Writing a Literary Analysis

There are many things to keep in mind when writing about literature. But there’s no need to worry: we are here to help you. Here are the four components that will help to make sure you get an excellent grade on your essay:

  • Make sure you refer to the literature you write about in the proper format. For example, the titles of plays and full-length books should be italicized, while poems and short stories should be in quotation marks. You may consult Purdue University’s excellent citation guides to be on the safe side.
  • Ensure that the quotes are properly attributed with the correct page numbers.
  • Avoid directly quoting or borrowing arguments from previously published literary analysis samples. Using the same forms of argument and language is a form of plagiarism.
  • Remember that you need a brief introduction with a clear thesis statement, distinct body paragraphs, and a cohesive conclusion. If you find it hard to write concisely, feel free to use our essay shortener to save time.

📃 Literary Analysis Example for Free

Looking for a fully-formatted literary analysis example? Look no further! Download our excellent sample in PDF format below.

The Little Match Girl is a short story by Hans Christian Andersen. It’s a touching tale about a poor girl who spends New Year’s Eve working on the streets, dreaming of a better life, and warming herself by lighting matches she failed to sell. Some of the main themes include loneliness, struggle, and cruelty.

We hope that you found some inspiration to take your essay on the next level. Let us know what literary studies topic you like the most and other literary analysis ideas you have!

❓ Literary Analysis Essay FAQs

If you’re writing a literary analysis, make sure you don’t summarize the text you are analyzing. Instead, focus on your thesis and the supporting evidence. You should also avoid using phrases such as “in my opinion.”

A literary analysis should always include information on the text’s components. They include plot, setting, themes, motifs, imagery, tone, and character analysis. Don’t forget to write about the way the author uses these elements and how they contribute to the overall work.

The introductory part of your literary analysis should include a thesis statement that conveys the structure of your essay. Don’t forget to mention the author and provide background information about the text. Remember to start your body paragraphs with a topic sentence.

A literary analysis is usually 5-paragraphs long. The introduction and conclusion consist of one paragraph each, while the main body has three.

A literary analysis is a type of writing assignment containing an analysis of a literary piece. In a literary analysis, you should evaluate and interpret the work by analyzing its plot, setting, motifs, themes, characters, and style.

Further reading:

  • Case Study Analysis Example + How-to Guide
  • How to Write a Film Analysis Essay
  • Short Story Analysis: Step by Step How-to Guide
  • How to Write a 5-Paragraph Essay: Outline, Examples, & Writing Steps
  • Literature Review Outline: Examples, Approaches, & Templates
  • Find a Topic Idea: Questia
  • A CS Research Topic Generator: Purdue University
  • 50 Critical Analysis Paper Topics: Owlcation
  • Variations on a Theme: Common Types of Literary Analysis Papers: UVM Writing Center
  • How do I find literary analysis essay topics? Baker Library
  • Literary Terms: Purdue O.W.L.
  • Literary Terms: Stanford University
  • How To Write A Literary Analysis Essay: Bucks College
  • Writing Critical Essays about Literature: Gallaudet University
  • Literature (Fiction): UNC Writing Center
  • Literary criticism: Britannica
  • Fiction vs Non-Fiction – English Literature’s Made-Up Divide: The Guardian
  • Feminist Literary Criticism: ThoughtCo
  • Feminist Criticism: Washington State University
  • A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis: UW Madison
  • William Shakespeare Biography: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
  • William Shakespeare: Poets.org
  • Hamlet Topic Overview: Gale
  • Macbeth – Themes: BBC
  • From Plato to Platonism: Cornell University Press
  • Sophocles: World History Encyclopedia
  • Charles Dickens, 1812-1870: University Of California
  • Heroes and the Homeric Iliad: University of Houston
  • Historical Context of Song of Solomon: Columbia College
  • The Red Badge of Courage: University of South Florida
  • William Blake: University of Delaware
  • William Butler Yeats: Yale University
  • Chaucer’s Influences: University of Glasgow
  • John Keats: King’s College London
  • UVA Commemoration Looks at King’s ‘Why We Can’t Wait’ in Light of Today’s Issues: University of Virginia
  • Alice Walker: National Museum of African American History & Culture
  • Virginia Woolf: University of London
  • Harper Lee: Encyclopedia of Alabama
  • A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner: Baruch College
  • Death of a Salesman and Death of a Salesman: The Swollen Legacy of Arthur Miller: Columbia University
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Ohio State University
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Boston College
  • Themes In Wuthering Heights: Brooklyn College
  • The Metamorphosis: Grossman School of Medicine
  • Gothic and the Female Voice: Examining Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”: Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
  • The Literature Review: University of Southern California
  • Cicero (106—43 BCE): Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Analyzing Novels & Short Stories: TAMU Writing Center
  • Literature Analysis: PLU Writing Center
  • What Is Analysis?: Austin Community College
  • Writing Your Literary Analysis: University of Hawaii
  • Literary Analysis Paper: Western Michigan University
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Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, every ap literature practice test available: free and official.

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Advanced Placement (AP)


When you're studying for your AP Literature Exam, you're going to want to use practice tests and questions to hone your skills. But where can you find AP literature practice tests? And are all practice exams equally useful for you?

The real exam has 55 multiple-choice questions and three free-response questions, but there are practice tests with every conceivable number and combination of question types.

In this article, you'll learn where to find every official College Board AP English Literature and Composition practice exam, free unofficial tests, and paid practice test resources. You'll also find out which tests are high-quality and how you can best use different practice exams to fulfill your studying needs.

Official Free AP Literature Practice Tests

The gold standard of AP English Literature practice tests and AP English Literature practice exam questions are College Board released materials . That's because the College Board administers the AP exams, so their practice questions are most like the actual AP questions you'll see on the test.

There are three different kinds of resources offered by the College Board: complete released exams from past years, released free-response questions from past years, and sample questions from the "AP Course And Exam Description."

Official Released College Board Exams

There are three official released College Board Exams. However, only the most recent one (from 2012) is complete. The 1999 and 1987 exams have the standard 55 multiple-choice questions, but both are missing parts of the three question free-response section. You can still use them as complete exams if you supplement them with released free-response questions from past years which we recommend since official multiple-choice problems are hard to come by.

2012 AP English Literature and Composition Exam

This is the best AP Lit practice test available. It's the most recent exam released by the College Board, and it follows the format of the current test with 55 multiple-choice questions and three free-response questions. Definitely make use of this test!

1999 AP English Literature and Composition Exam

This test excludes the poetry and prose analysis questions of the free-response section and only has the student choice question. So, to take it as a complete exam, you'd need to supplement it with questions 1 and 2 from the released free-response questions below . You can actually get question 2 for the 1999 test from the official free-response questions bank, but the excerpt for question 1 can't be reprinted, so you'll need to supplement with another poetry analysis question.

1987 AP English Literature and Composition Exam For reasons that are not totally clear, this exam excludes the third essay question, the poetry analysis. If you want to take this as "complete" exam practice, use a free-response poetry analysis prompt from the bank of free response questions linked below.


Or supplement with this tree-poem.

Official Free-Response Questions

There may not be very many complete released exams, but there are tons of free-response questions available from previous administrations of the test. These are great practice, not just for writing complete essays, but for practicing writing thesis statements, outlines, and so on.

What's also great about these is that most of them come with sample response and scoring guidelines, so you'll be able to see exactly what makes a high-quality AP essay by College Board standards. Be aware, though, that some of the prose and poetry excerpts can't be reprinted due to copyright concerns.

Below is the link to all the free-response questions available. The questions go all the way back to 1999, and since there haven't been many changes to the free-response part of the exam, all of these questions can be useful during your studying.

AP English Lit Free Response Questions 1999-2021

Sample Questions From the Course and Exam Description

The 2019 AP English Literature Course and Exam Description has practice multiple-choice questions and free-response questions.They don't add up to a complete test--there are only 19 multiple-choice questions instead of 55–but there are three free response questions (enough for a full test). Even though there aren’t many multiple-choice questions, they are great for simple practice.

If you're looking for more questions like these, you can revisit the old exam description booklets as well . (Just keep in mind that some of the other information in the booklet may be out of date!)

Your Teacher

Your AP teacher may have access to copies of old AP exams that you can use for practice. They probably can't let you take them out of the classroom, but they may be allowed to loan them to you in a supervised setting. This is because teachers can purchase resources directly from the College Board that students can't. Asking your teacher may not bear fruit, but it's worth a try.


Why are you asking me for AP Lit practice tests? I'm your Econ teacher!

Free Unofficial AP Literature Practice Tests

In addition to the free College Board resources, there are also several places online where you can get free, unofficial practice tests. Be aware that, because these resources aren't College-Board created or approved, they are of variable quality. For each of these resources we'll describe what's offered and how it compares to official College Board tests.

Varsity Tutors AP Literature Practice Tests

This site has multiple-choice practice quizzes divided by concept--things like "interpreting the passage," "claims and argument," and "interpreting excerpts." The questions aren't worded exactly the same way as AP test questions, but they are still okay for testing your passage-interpretation skills. Basically, the questions test for similar skills, but don't necessarily mimic AP test questions in style.

Also, the site provides the date, title, and author of each work, which is not something you'll receive on the AP exam. You can make a free account at the site to track your scores, but it's not necessary to be able to take the tests.


Kittens not included with free practice tests, unfortunately.

Albert AP English Literature Quizzes

Albert offers multiple-choice quizzes divided into prose, poetry, and drama categories. You are given the title, date, and author of the work--which you will not receive on the real AP exam. Like the Varsity Tutors quizzes, Albert offers questions that test similar skills as the AP exam, but the questions are worded differently.

High School Test Prep Tests

This site offers three short multiple-choice practice tests. You're given the title and author of the work. The questions for these tests are fairly surface-level, so I would only use these if you are working on your reading comprehension skills.

CrackAP English Literature Quizzes

CrackAP has over 40 short AP Lit quizzes. Each quiz gives a passage then has 15 multiple-choice questions on it. The questions are somewhat easier than you'll find on the real AP exam, but if you need some quick practice, this can do the trick. This resource also has examples of past free response questions, which can be useful study tools, too!

Practice Quiz AP English Literature

This site offers a 20-question multiple-choice quiz on two passages--one poetry, and one prose. The passages are extremely basic, however, so I would only use this resource if you are working on your reading comprehension skills.

Looking for help studying for your AP exam? Our one-on-one online AP tutoring services can help you prepare for your AP exams. Get matched with a top tutor who got a high score on the exam you're studying for!

The queens of AP Lit practice give you their blessing.

Paid Unofficial Practice Tests

There are also several paid resources that offer unofficial practice questions.

This is a subscription service with questions for tons of different tests—SAT, ACT, and AP exams.They also have videos and other review resources. We can't really speak to the quality of the questions because the entire service is behind a paywall of about $25 a month.

The Princeton Review AP Literature Study Guide 2021

Published study guides are an excellent way to practice for the AP Literature exam. These books are put together by experts who have inside knowledge of the test, and The Princeton Review is one of the best out there.

This study guide has three practice tests, along with other types of sample questions and expert explanations to help you improve your analytical skills.

Barron's AP English Literature and Composition, 7th Edition

Like The Princeton Review study guide, the Barron's AP Literature study guide is another great resource for students looking for extra exam prep. This guide has four practice tests and sample essay questions , along with an expert walk-through of the AP Literature exam itself.

If you're looking for a guide that gives you practice and provides tips for mastering the exam, this would be a good pick!

This subscription service offers access to tons of test prep, including the SAT, ACT and lots of AP courses. Their AP Literature resources include two full-length practice tests, three sets of flashcards to help you study, and several instructional videos.

Prices for subscriptions start at $39 dollars per month, and some plans include live tutoring and writing instruction . If you choose to subscribe, you get access to all of their course and test-prep materials, so if you’re taking several AP classes, this could be a good source.


I definitely advise paying for all of these resources with whatever loose foreign change you have lying around.

How to Use AP Literature Practice Tests

How to use a given practice test depends somewhat on the resource itself. We'll offer some recommendations here on how to best use different resources.

Complete Official Released Tests

The best way to use a complete official practice test is to do a practice-run for the exam . So find a quiet room, bring a timer or watch so you can time sections, and get to work! This will help you get familiar with the exam experience so you'll feel more comfortable on exam day!

Since there are two complete AP Lit practice tests, it makes sense to take one early on in your studying time, and one later. You can get a parent, tutor or teacher to grade the exams. The early test will help you figure out what you need to work on, and the later test will show you how you've improved! Since the AP English Literature test is more skills-heavy than content-heavy, you shouldn't feel totally lost taking a practice test even in the middle of the school year.

Official Released Free-Response and Sample Questions

Official resources that aren't complete tests are best for practicing individual sections of the test. The sample multiple-choice questions in the "Course and Exam Description" make for great AP English Literature multiple-choice practice--they'll help you get familiar with the style of the questions and practice close-reading.

The wealth of released free-response questions are great resources for building your timed essay-writing skills. You can practice complete essays or develop essay outlines.

Unofficial Practice Tests and Resources

Since unofficial practice tests aren't going to be quite as similar to the real AP exam as official College Board materials, they won't be quite as useful for preparing for the format of the exam or its questions. However, they can be very valuable close-reading practice. And since that's a critical skill for the exam, it's still worth it to use unofficial resources.


Be very quiet. She's close-reading.

Key Takeaways

Practice tests and questions are a hugely important resource as you prep for the AP Lit exam. The gold standard of practice resources are those that come from the College Board, but there are many other places where you can get practice questions that will help you hone your close-reading skills for the exam. Most of the resources listed in this article are free, but a few are paid.

Remember: official College Board practice tests are best for simulating the exam experience. Actual College Board questions are good for focused preparation for individual sections of the exam--especially the essays. Unofficial resources are best used for further honing your close-reading skills after you’ve practiced with the official materials.

Now that you know where to find these resources, you're ready to start studying for your AP Literature exam!


What's Next?

Wondering what you should be reading for AP Lit? Check out our list of 127 great books to help you prepare for the AP Literature exam.

Need more study guidance for your APs? See my five-step AP prep plan. Or see our guide on when to start studying for your APs.

If you're looking for practice tests for other AP exams, see our assembled practice tests for AP US History , AP Chemistry , AP Biology , AP World History , and AP Psychology .

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.

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Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.

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AP English Literature and Composition

Review the free-response questions from the 2024 ap exam, new for 2024-25: mcqs will have four answer choices.

Starting in the 2024-25 school year, AP English Literature and Composition multiple-choice questions (MCQs) will have four answer choices instead of five. This change will take effect with the 2025 exam. All resources have been updated to reflect this change.  

Exam Overview

Exam questions assess the course concepts and skills outlined in the course framework. For more information, download the  AP English Literature and Composition Course and Exam Description (.pdf)  (CED).

Encourage your students to visit the  AP English Literature and Composition student page  for exam information.

2025 AP Exam dates available soon

Exam Format

The AP English Literature and Composition Exam has consistent question types, weighting, and scoring guidelines every year, so you and your students know what to expect on exam day. There will also be a consistent range of difficulty in the reading passages across all versions of the exam from year to year. The free-response questions will be scored using analytic rubrics, rather than the previous holistic rubrics.

Section I: Multiple Choice

55 Questions | 1 Hour | 45% of Exam Score

  • Includes 5 sets of questions with 8–13 questions per set.
  • Each set is preceded by a passage of prose fiction, drama, or poetry of varying difficulty.
  • The multiple-choice section will always include at least 2 prose fiction passages (this may include drama) and at least 2 poetry passages.

Section II: Free Response

3 Questions | 2 Hours | 55% of Exam Score

  • A literary analysis of a given poem
  • A literary analysis of a given passage of prose fiction (this may include drama)
  • An analysis that examines a specific concept, issue, or element in a work selected by the student. In responding to Question 3, students should select a work of fiction that will be appropriate to the question. A general rule is to use a work that is similar in quality to those they have read in their AP class(es).

Scoring Rubrics

One-page ap english literature and composition scoring rubrics.

This is a simplified version of the longer scoring rubric document, with the decision rules and scoring notes taken out. This document features a student-friendly single-page rubric for each free-response question.

AP English Literature and Composition Rubrics with Decision Rules and Scoring Notes

This document features general scoring criteria that apply to each of the three free-response questions, regardless of specific question prompt.

Exam Questions and Scoring Information

Ap english literature and composition exam questions and scoring information.

View free-response questions and scoring information from this year's exam and past exams.

Score Reporting

Online score reports.

Access your score reports.

Resources you can trust

AQA Eng Lit B: Aspects of tragedy exam question

Sample exam questions for AQA Eng Lit B: Aspects of tragedy

A set of 10 sample, past paper style questions to help to prepare students for Section C of the AQA A-level English Literature B, Aspects of tragedy paper.

This resource enables students preparing for AQA A Level English Literature B to consolidate their knowledge and understanding of set texts, including Othello by William Shakespeare and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.

Students can use the questions to build confidence in their exploration of tragedy, one of the key literary genres studied at English Literature A Level.

Ideal for timed exam practice, essay planning and revision, these questions are written in an exam question format for Paper 1A of AQA English Literature specification B. Paper 1B focuses on aspects of comedy.

You can browse our exam exemplars and classroom resources for a range of drama texts in our  A-level plays collection .

An extract from the resource:

The protagonist’s loss of identity is often the most harrowing aspect of the tragic experience.

To what extent do you agree with this view in relation to two texts you have studied? Remember to include in your answer relevant comment on the ways writers have shaped meanings.

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english lit essay questions

June/July NECO Literature in English Questions 2024 Free Answers (Drama & Poetry) 100% Verified Solution

The Drama & Poetry literature answers for NECO SSCE exam is out. Students writing the subject can see verified 2024 NECO NECO Literature in English Questions June/July for free here. The exam will take place on 1st July, 2024. The National Examinations Council (NECO) is a Nigerian examination body responsible for conducting and administering national examinations at the secondary school level. NECO plays a crucial role in assessing and certifying students’ academic achievements across various subjects.

Literature in English questions generally delve into analyzing themes, characters, and literary devices within texts from various genres and time periods, prompting students to interpret and critically evaluate the author’s intentions and the broader implications of the work.

Are you writing the Literature in English exam and need help? If yes, then you have come to the solution ground.

All students writing the Literature in English examination are advised to join us on WhatsApp for early solution. To join now, click on the link in this page.

This article comprehensively covers all details regarding the NECO Literature June/July expo questions and answers. It includes a detailed guide on effective strategies for utilizing the solutions to enhance your understanding and excel in the subject.

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Also Read: NECO Further Mathematics Questions and answers

Is NECO Literature in English Questions 2024 Answers Out?

Yes, the National examination board has released the much awaited literature Drama & Poetry questions and answers. All the exam questions are right now with us, and will soon be uploaded in this page.

NECO has scheduled examinations for Monday, 1st July 2024, including Paper II: Drama & Poetry – Literature in English, which will be held from 2:40 pm to 4:20 pm.

It is advised that students writing the literature exam review key literary works thoroughly beforehand and manage their time effectively during the exam to address all questions comprehensively

english lit essay questions

Go to Edureport Literature in English Page To See All The Question Papers Now.

NECO Literature Drama & Poetry Essay Answers

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All the answers to Literature in English including the practical, physical and objective answers will be made available here in 2 hours time.

The drama section of the NECO Literature in English exam usually tests students’ understanding of plays, character analysis, themes, and dramatic techniques.

Familiarity with the prescribed texts is essential for performing well in this section.

(11) In “Bat” by D.H. Lawrence, the poet adeptly utilizes various poetic devices to convey the mysterious and somewhat eerie essence of bats, contrasting human perceptions with the natural world.

(i)Imagery; plays a crucial role in “Bat.” Lawrence crafts detailed, sensory-rich descriptions that transport the reader into the dusky scene. For instance, he captures the bats as they “wheel and flitter by the porch” and describes their flight with phrases like “whirls like a dark scarf.” Such imagery not only enhances the visual experience but also contributes to the unsettling atmosphere, emphasizing the swift, unpredictable movements of the bats.

(ii)Sound; is another device that Lawrence masterfully incorporates into the poem. He uses onomatopoeia and alliteration to mimic the sounds of the bats and their environment. Words like “Twitching chirp” and “whip-bat” replicate the sharp, abrupt noises of the bats’ movements, which adds a layer of auditory imagery to the poem. The repetition of harsh consonant sounds in phrases like “black piper on an infinitesimal pipe” evokes the dissonance and disturbance of the scene, amplifying the poem’s mood.

(iii)Symbolism; is deeply woven into the fabric of “Bat.” The bats themselves symbolize the unknown and the aspects of nature that are often seen as unsettling or eerie. They appear at twilight, a time that itself symbolizes transition and ambiguity, further enhancing their symbolic role as creatures that blur the lines between day and night, the known and the unknown. Lawrence uses the bats to challenge the reader’s perceptions, symbolizing a shift from the familiar to the mysterious and possibly disconcerting aspects of nature.

Through these poetic devices, Lawrence not only crafts an immersive and atmospheric piece but also invites readers to rethink their interactions with and attitudes towards the natural world, particularly its more enigmatic facets.

(12) In T.S. Eliot’s poem “Journey of the Magi,” the journey motif is central and multifaceted, reflecting both a physical and a spiritual quest. The poem, which recounts the journey of the Magi to visit the Christ child, is rich with themes of transformation, struggle, and illumination. The physical aspect of the journey is depicted through the harsh conditions faced by the Magi. They travel in the cold winter, enduring the “worst time of the year” with “the ways deep and the weather sharp.” This physical hardship is emblematic of the difficulties often encountered in the pursuit of profound truths or spiritual enlightenment. Their journey through such inhospitable conditions mirrors the inner turmoil and sacrifices that often accompany significant personal or spiritual change. On a spiritual level, the journey represents a quest for divine knowledge and truth. The Magi, who are wise men, undertake this journey not merely for a physical encounter but to seek a deeper understanding of the divine. Their arrival and the sight of the Christ child signify a moment of epiphany where their long journey culminates not only in witnessing a new king but also in experiencing a transformation of their beliefs and perceptions. Eliot further complicates the journey motif by suggesting that the arrival of Christ brings about a kind of death as well as a rebirth. One of the Magi reflects on how this experience has left them feeling alienated from their old selves and their previous beliefs, indicating a profound internal change that parallels their physical expedition. The Magi’s journey thus encapsulates a movement from one state of being to another, marked by discomfort, discovery, and ultimately, a redefinition of self. Moreover, the poem’s narrative framework and allusions to spiritual texts integrate the journey motif into a broader theological context, suggesting that the Magi’s experience is part of a larger divine plan. This enhances the existential weight of their travel, framing it as a necessary path toward spiritual awakening and fulfillment. In conclusion, the journey motif in “Journey of the Magi” serves as a powerful metaphor for the trials and transformations inherent in the search for spiritual enlightenment. Eliot uses this motif to explore themes of sacrifice, revelation, and the difficult passage from old ways to new understandings, making the Magi’s journey a profound exploration of the human condition in the face of divine revelation.

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NECO Literature in English Exam Preparation Tips

To excel in the drama section, students should:

  • Read and analyze the prescribed texts thoroughly.
  • Understand the historical and cultural context of the plays.
  • Practice past questions and review model answers.

Getting NECO Literature in English June/July questions And Answers 2024

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Mark Scheme And Model Answer ( OCR A Level English Literature )

Revision note.

Nick Redgrove

English Senior Content Creator

Mark Scheme And Model Answer

The best way to improve any essay is to know how you are assessed, and what skills you are being assessed on. This page has been created to give you a sense of what examiners are looking for in a full-mark response. It contains:

Mark scheme

Exampl e task

M odel answer

Unannotat ed model ans wer

Component 1, Section 2 will require you to write a comparative essay that considers the contexts in which texts are both written and understood, as well as different interpretations of texts. Although the dominant assessment objective for this task is AO3, you are required to write a coherent, well-argued response that integrates your wider reading in your chosen topic area in a sophisticated way. Your response must also be supported with direct quotations or close reference to both texts.

The mark scheme in English Literature is quite broad and can seem difficult to understand. This is because there is no “correct answer” for any essay: the exam board does not provide points that need to be included in any essay; instead, examiners use the mark scheme to place an answer into a level. For Section 2, AO3 is the dominant assessment objective. The weightings for the Assessment Objectives in this question are:

AO1 – 12.5%

AO5 – 12.5%

In simple terms, to achieve the highest marks (Level 6 = 26–30 marks), this means:

Although there are four specific assessment objectives assessed in this task, it is not the case that a certain number of marks are awarded for any one objective. Instead, the examiners are looking for a well-constructed and coherent essay that seamlessly combines an exploration of relevant contexts with a well-structured comparative analysis, which should also involve linking to your wider reading in your chosen topic area.

Example task

The following task is taken from the June 2022 paper and is based on the texts Paradise Lost and The Duchess of Malfi. However, the commentary is designed to highlight how to structure your response and integrate all aspects of the assessment objectives, and therefore the model could be applied to any of the other texts. For candidate exemplars from this exam series for the other texts, please follow this link to the resources available on OCR’s website. [insert link]

We will now explore how you can create an informed and coherent argument using an example of a question from Section 2. Read through the question below:

“Powerful emotions are often the excuse for unacceptable behaviour.”

In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers explore the connection between intense thoughts and bad deeds. In your answer, compare one drama text and one poetry text.

You can develop your argument by linking your points .

Consider the proposition about the texts you are studying:

“Powerful emotions are often the excuse for unacceptable behaviour.”

In light of the proposition, choose two texts that compare well with one another (AO4)

Next come up with a personal and creative response to the proposition:

This is how you display mastery of AO1

Consider the influence of the contexts in which the texts were written and received and how these might impact on the texts (AO3):

The emphasis on context can also enable you to write about popular contemporary issues of particular interest to you

Then inform or support your answer (this is also how you hit AO1) with a reference to different interpretations (AO5)

After you have done this, start with an alternative personal and creative response to the proposition

We will now explore how you might structure this into a response. To begin with, you should consider how you might support or challenge this proposition. This is shown in the table below:

Another way to develop your argument is, after dealing comprehensively with one point about both texts, to start another paragraph that also relates to the question:

Model Answer

Below you will find a full-mark, A* model answer for this task. The commentary labelled in each section of the essay illustrates how and why it would be awarded an A*. Despite the fact it is an answer to Paradise Lost and The Duchess of Malfi, the commentary is relevant to any of the other texts, because it is modelling how to structure an answer incorporating the relevant assessment objectives. AO1 is demonstrated throughout in terms of the coherence of the overall response.


Unannotated model answer

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Author: Nick Redgrove

Nick is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and King’s College London. He started his career in journalism and publishing, working as an editor on a political magazine and a number of books, before training as an English teacher. After nearly 10 years working in London schools, where he held leadership positions in English departments and within a Sixth Form, he moved on to become an examiner and education consultant. With more than a decade of experience as a tutor, Nick specialises in English, but has also taught Politics, Classical Civilisation and Religious Studies.


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  23. June/July NECO Literature in English Questions 2024 Free Answers (Drama

    Literature in English Essay and Obj Subscription Price #700 - To pay join the WhatsApp group. Also Read: NECO Further Mathematics Questions and answers. Is NECO Literature in English Questions 2024 Answers Out? Yes, the National examination board has released the much awaited literature Drama & Poetry questions and answers.

  24. Mark Scheme And Model Answer

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