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How to Write an Analysis Essay

Establishing a Format for Your Essay

When the research related to your thesis, is complete, you will want to think about the information you have compiled and respond to it in some meaningful way. This can be accomplished by examining the evidence, claims, and assumptions that relate to your topic. Then you can proceed to interpret the strengths and weaknesses of all opposing sides in the argument. Often, an essayist goes on to pose a series of questions in order to weigh the merits of every side of the issue being discussed. As a rule, your essay will be made up of the following elements:

  • An abstract (or summary) of the main topics contained in your essay,
  • Your reaction and response to the information you have gathered and your interpretation of the data for the reader, and
  • Your analysis of the assumptions that have been made, the implicit argument you have discovered, the inherent contradictions revealed by your sources, and the evidence you have gathered.

Since it is your aim to reach a particular type of reader, you will want to modify every facet of your essay to meet the expectations and needs of the audience you have chosen. This will affect the definitions you provide for them, the sentence structure you use, and the details you include in your essay. In addition, your opinion is the key here, and you will want to discuss why your sources took the stand they did on an issue and explain your reaction to them. If you are writing a literary analysis, avoid using an apologetic voice when making your case because this will imply that you do not agree with your thesis whole-heartedly. Instead, support your claim by referring to other literary works from the same era.

Making Your Essay More Effective

Be sure that you fully understand what your sources were trying to say and the points they attempted to make, because it will be impossible for you to support your thesis unless you do this. Remember to provide a simple summary of what you have read in order to establish the parameters of your discussion. For example, if you are analyzing the meaning of Shakespeare's “Hamlet,” you will want to discuss the characters, the setting, or the plot. Your essay should also include these main divisions:

  • In the introduction, you will want to pique the reader's interest, indicate your sources, provide a little essential background data, and state your thesis (which may be a controversial issue) in broad terms.
  • In the body of your essay, you should provide specific examples that validate the point you are making supported by passages, definitions, comparisons, descriptions, and quotations from your sources. In addition, any examples you provide should be well-analyzed to support the argument you are making.
  • In the conclusion, you will want to mention your thesis once again for the sake of emphasis and summarize the main points you made in the body of your essay.
  • To maintain your readers' interest in the topic, try to include a thought-provoking question that will leave them mulling over your ideas long after they have set your essay aside.