GUIDE TO A GOOD LITERARY ANALYSIS
The only thing worse than a bad book is a good book that doesn't know how to appreciate itself.
Literature is one of the best means of expression that man has since it allows him to share the reality of the world without having to speak explicitly about it. Literature is characterized by being polyform, thus adjusting to the tastes of each writer and reader. Among many others, we have opinion essays, medical articles, detective novels, and even children's stories.
With this small article, what we seek is to provide a guide to analyze the narrative literature. That is, one that tells a story, whether fantastic or realistic. The purpose of this is that as readers we learn to read beyond what is on paper.
We propose an analysis consisting of 7 steps:
- Author and context
- plot and structure
- Theme and Plot
- language and tone
Below we will explain them one by one.
AUTHOR AND CONTEXT
The first step is crucial, as it helps to understand why or with what intention the text was written.
To know the author, it is important to find out about his country or city of development, the year in which the text was written, and if it belongs to a series of books or if it is an individual book. For example, if someone reads the last book in the Harry Potter series, "The Deathly Hallows", without knowing that it is the culmination of a story told in 6 other books, they will be missing key details for their understanding. How To Write A Literary Analysis?
The narrator is the one who takes the reader's hand at the beginning of the story and tells him what happened. It can generally be divided into two types: external and internal.
When it is internal, it is a character that is inside the story itself. He doesn't have to be the main character, however, he often is.
The external, on the other hand, is a person independent of the story. He can narrate the story as part of the world itself (without being a character) or as part of the "real" world, making it clear that what he is narrating is nothing more than a story.
The narrator is usually linked to two characteristics: omniscient and trustworthy. Omniscient is used to refer to a narrator who knows everything that happens in the story, and therefore already knows how it will end. He is easy to identify since he is the only one with the ability to know what the characters think, feel, and believes without them saying it. The omniscient narrator is external par excellence, however, not all external narrators are omniscient.
On the other hand, reliable refers to an author who, as the word indicates, can be trusted with his word. That is an objective narrator who does not try to confuse or deceive his reader. For example, in the case of "Lady in red on a gray background" (1991) by Miguel Delibes, the narrator is highly subjective, since it is a man explaining his relationship with him and the last years of the life of his beloved wife. hey.
PLOT AND STRUCTURE
The plot is perhaps the first thing that is noticed when reading a novel, so it is not necessary to stop and analyze what the plot of a novel consists of if it is being read with enough attention. However, the structure is something that in the desire to know the end of a story we often overlook.
The structure refers to two types of divisions: internal and external. The internal ones are the ways in which the same narrative is divided. For example, a book that is written from the point of view of two separate characters has two very different perspectives that contribute to the story, and therefore to the book, with great wealth. To miss this is to miss a crucial part of the book. The external division refers rather to how the book is divided (if it is divided) at the time of writing it. That is, if it is written in epistolary mode, with chapters, in parts, etc. Many times, in addition, the chapters or parts of a story have their own title, as in the case of Don Quixote.
THEME AND PLOT
The difference between theme and plot is subtle but important.
Plot : What is the story about? It is similar to the plot, but it is much shorter. The plot is what would go in the synopsis of a book, usually located on the back cover of it.
Theme – The underlying theme of a story. The great ideals or problems that are portrayed in the story.
For example, in the case of The Odyssey, the plot would be: the epic journey of a man back home with his wife and son. However, the theme would be bravery, predestination, the power of the gods, etc.
An important detail of this part of the analysis is the dam quoted by symbolism. The symbols are like bridges between the argument and the theme, in which, if they are seen with a bit of perspective, the real idea that the author seeks to convey is understood. For example, in the case of "The Magician's Nephew" (1955) by CS Lewis, the story can be understood as a simple passage between worlds thanks to a sorcerer, or you can look for the symbolism that it brings with it and appreciate that. there is a great resemblance to the story of the genesis of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In this way, each character, each detail and each event have a far greater transcendental value than if it were limited to being interpreted as a novel for young people.
SPACE AND TIME
This point consists of determining in what geographical point and in what moment of time the story takes place. It is indifferent to this part of the analysis where and when the author is. A person from Barcelona in 2005 can perfectly write a story that takes place in 1900 in Panama. It is a matter of investigation.
At this point, what is truly important is to reflect on how time passes within the novel and how physical spaces are.
This is perhaps the easiest part of the whole analysis. The reason for this is that often unconsciously, as we read a story we form opinions about the characters that give it life. Whether they are kind, logical, fair, annoying, etc. This characterization is important to the story.
However, beyond the personality description of each character, we also recommend reflecting on the importance of the character or what each one contributes to the story. Not all have the same role, and this (in a good book) has its reason for being.
LANGUAGE AND TONE
Finally, the language and tone of a book. Many times they are forgotten in the literary analysis of a work. However, they have a huge impact on how we perceive it. For example, in the case of "The Little Prince" (1943) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, due to the tone with which the story is narrated, it may seem like a children's book. However, by including other dimensions in the literary analysis, it can be seen that it is a work with a much more philosophical content and character than it appears at first sight.