Literary Analysis Essay Outline Template


“The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just
as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
The introduction consists of 1 paragraph.
Capture the reader’s interest. (An effective way to do this is to explain
why you chose your thematic topic. Use personal anecdotes and vivid
images. Allow your voice to emerge.)
Give background information about the theory as it relates to your text.
Incorporate research. Define necessary terms.
State the thesis and projected plan in the last 1-2 sentences.
2. The body consists of 3
Begin each
with a topic sentence that states an idea related
to the thesis. Organize your essay around
relating to your critical
In the body of your essay, incorporate information from your primary
and secondary sources (novel and critical theory information. Cite these
sources parenthetically, using MLA format
Develop your ideas fully. In each section, integrate quotations and
textual details from sources. Analyze all examples, probing to the
underlying ideas. Be sure to provide clear topic sentences and
transitions to guide your reader.
3. The conclusion is a single paragraph that recalls the thesis and discusses the
relevance and significance of the ideas that you have explored. Explain what you
have learned about your novel and your critical theory. Put your own personal stamp
on this paragraph. Explain how these books relate to your life and to America today.
The last sentence must have impact.
4. You will be judged on the strength of your argument, the depth of your insight, the
quality of literature you have chosen, and the power of your writing. You are
expected to write a clear, interesting, and convincing essay. Voice and tone should
be evident. Syntax should be varied and sophisticated. Figures of speech should
appear. Mechanics should be flawless.
5. Type everything properly—MLA style. And don’t forget the Works Cited page!! (You
should have a total of 3 pages max (1” margins, double spaced, Times New Roman, 12
font, MLA heading, Last Name/pg. # at the top right of each page.)


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