Critically Analyzing Literature

Sounds difficult, right? To critically analyze something you have to be able to break down to the core of it and take it apart piece by piece, putting it back together in a way that’s tangible and understandable while still making your point.

Complicated, I know.

But critically analyzing literature isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Of course you’ll stumble and fall at the beginning, but that isn’t to say you won’t improve as you advance in the ways in which you look at it.

Let’s take Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” for example. I had to critically analyze her book a couple of years ago, and I had no idea what that meant! From what I remember I understood that it wasn’t the monster’s fault for the positions he was put in because he sought out human companionship, but rather it was Frankenstein’s fault for bringing him to life in the first place – in fact, the monster blamed him for it!

When you critically analyze a piece of literature, don’t just look on the surface or what’s obvious about the piece; take the time to really dig down and find the hidden meanings behind the words.

If you look at, say, “Divergent” by Veronica Roth, you will find the hidden places where God, and some lessons learned in the Bible, are mentioned because she is a Christian, herself. Or if you look at “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen you might discover the lies behind the way some characters acted and portrayed themselves, as well as find that that was really how that certain section of society really acted. It’s all a matter of perspective, and you won’t necessarily be wrong about it.

There are several methods to analyzing literature, such as marking around certain areas that stand out and doing research in online scholarly journals on the same subject or line, or working with someone who knows more on the subject than you do, etc. There are countless ways to analyze, but you also have to have the mind for it, i.e. you have to be willing to look deeper into the story than just what’s at the surface.

But this also isn’t to say that you absolutely can’t get off with just writing down your own opinions, oh no. You have to do the research behind it. Who else wrote about the subject? Are they big names in reputable journals or are they just found on easy-access websites with no citations or anything of the like? It’s about knowing what you’re looking for, and oftentimes that can be a difficult thing to do.

Have you ever had to critically analyze a piece of literature? If so, what was it and how did you go about doing it? Let me know in the comments below!


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