Tutor profile: Meghan C.
How do you write a good literary analysis essay without a prompt?
Essays without prompts aren't much different from essays with prompts. To start, think of a general question or theme you want to explore in the text. This could be a repeated word or image, or it could be a specific passage or scene you found interesting. Then, look deeper at it. Think about the 5 W's both in context to your interest as a reader and the development of the story; Why does this interest you? Why is it happening? What is happening? What evidence supports your ideas? Who is in the scene, and who do they represent in society? Who is the intended audience for this text? When is this taking place within the book and when was the book published? Where is this taking place (specifically or generally) in the novel? Where in the world was the novel written or published? These questions will urge you to look for purpose behind the text and will begin to develop into an arguable thesis.
Does language predetermine thought?
No. Language is not a limiting scope through which we see the world, it is a tool we use to describe the world. New words and phrases are constantly being invented to better describe things that language previously did not account for. Connotation and perception may be influenced by language, but ultimately not limited by it.
Why is textual analysis important? What if the author didn't mean to insinuate a deeper message behind what they wrote?
Authors write from their own experience and values, which are deeply effected by the location, time period, and current events happening where they live. Books are a recorded insight into the thoughts and feelings of a person living in a specific moment, and are crucial to gain a better understanding of human history. Textual analysis allows us to question previously accepted social norms. They allow us to uncover hidden value systems, prejudices, and beliefs that are motivating factors in why people do what they do. Only when these systems are uncovered can they be examined or questioned, and only then can we progress and change the world for the better.
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