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Literary Analysis of a Short Story: Home

Support your literary analysis with books from the Chesapeake College Library and electronic sources from the library databases. Get help with citing your sources too.


Choose a short story.

Determine a theme to trace in the story. Consider, what is the author's main message/reason for writing?

Develop a thesis statement that emphasizes your theme. Locate support for your thesis in the story itself and in the works of literary scholars who have written about your story.

Write a critical analysis of the story, supporting your thesis.

Format your paper and its Works Cited page according to MLA standards. 

Literary Research

In your literary analysis, you will present a specific point of view in a clear thesis statement, providing critical opinions to support your thesis. Do not retell the story, but rather only elements - setting, tone, specific lines, characters, actions, symbols, other literary devices, etc. - as support for your thesis.


The story: Carefully select quotations from the story which illustrate your point. Include them in your essay.

Scholarly critical analyses: Incorporate the words and ideas of literary scholars who have written about the story you chose. Find academic articles by searching in the library's English resources; try searching for your author's name or the name of the story. An article doesn't have to restate your exact thesis to be useful, try to find bits of evidence in the literature that supports your thesis. Do not use sources like SparkNotes or Wikipedia, because they're not scholarly quality!

Biographical information: Acquaint yourself with the author's work by examining biographies, but since the primary focus of the paper is the theme you've identified, use no more than one biography in your paper.

Subject Guide

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