Make your own free website on

Development:  How to Construct ¶s of Literary Analysis


A.  Topic Sentence:  Identify the element of literature the writer is using to convey the theme.


B.  Explanation: 

1.    Explain how the element emphasizes the theme.

2.  Set up your proof (source material).


C.  Support:  Literature or literary criticism that proves your point


D.  Reflection/Analysis: 

1.    Explain the connection between your theory re: theme/elements and the source material.  How does the source material illustrate your claim?

2.  Explain why the information is relevant


*Quick Guide: 

1.    IDENTIFY your main point

2.  EXPLAIN your main point

3.  PROVE your point using source material

4.  REFLECT/ANALYZE to explain the connection between theme/element and to discuss why you think the writer has made the choice(s) s/he has.


Final Tips:

1.  Each ¶ should start & end with your own writing.

2.  Each sentence must either end or begin with your words.  Do not dump quotes.


Theme/Element Analysis ¶ Example:  The Necklace


Theme:  Vanity will bring about a person’s downfall.

Element:  Exposition


In “The Necklace,” Guy de Maupassant uses his exposition to establish a crucial characteristic of his main character, one that is imperative to the conveying of his theme:  Vanity.  This tragic flaw causes Mathilde’s downfall, and Maupassant introduces this flaw early in the story so that the reading of the story is informed by knowledge of it.  We learn that Mathilde Loisel has a very high opinion of herself and “[feels] herself born for all the delicacies and all the luxuries” (313).  This vanity is further accentuated by her feeling of superiority to her husband:  “[S]he [has] let (emphasis added) herself be married to a little clerk at the Ministry of Public Instructions” (313).  Along with this high opinion of herself, she also suffers extreme angst over her current situation, chiefly due to concerns with “keeping up appearances”:  “She suffer[s] from the poverty of her dwelling, from the wretched look of the walls, from the worn-out chairs, from the ugliness of the curtains” (313).  Maupassant suggests in the exposition that she lives a relatively comfortable life with the mention of a little servant, curtains, and a tablecloth for her table.  Indeed, her husband is quite happy with their lot, while she wants finery and does not even enjoy spending time with friends who have more money than she because she is tortured by envy whilst in their company.  The establishment of Mme. Loisel’s vanity early in the story is deliberate and necessary.  It gives the reader a lens through which to view the actions of Mathilde.  It also sets up a dislike of Mathilde, which is vital in the sense that the reader feels as though justice has been served at the end of the story when Mathilde experiences her downfall.  If the reader were not open to criticism of the character, the theme would not be conveyed.  Thus, through this artful exposition, Maupassant ensures the impact of the denouement and thus the message.

Word Count:  324