Although it is widely believed that a literature essay is something you can write overnight and without much effort spent, it is in fact not less difficult than any other research paper. The meaning of ‘research’ itself varies, of course, yet it can be hardly said that literature research is easier than performing science experiments.
Yes, an essay of this kind should contain your opinion or evaluative judgment, yet this is far not everything you need. Moreover, writing literary analysis is not simply retelling the contents of the book; it must also include comprehensive study of every character, plot twists, language and expressive means, as well as go deeper and deal with theme lines and psychological/social issues in the basis of the book itself.
As any other paper, this one needs a thesis (if you want to do it properly, of course), which is clear enough and arguable enough. For instance, in case of the poetry essay you may come up with something like that:
‘The Divine Comedy’by Dante was a satirical account of his own life journey during the hard years of his exile’
Starting from there you will have to go through Dante’s biography and show clear links between the events in the poem and Dante’s life in exile, the people he met and the events he participated in.
This thesis, on the other hand, will not do as it gives no room for discussion and objection:
‘The Divine Comedy’ by Dante is a description of his imagined journey to the Purgatory, Hell and Heaven.
A common way to find a good topic for this kind of paper is reading a certain book through the lens of a certain philosophy, finding possible over-century links and interpreting the details which otherwise would seem of minor importance.
Writing book reviews
You might have been lucky enough to get a review assignment. This is easier, of course, yet still calls for some research and will probably take a few iterations. If you look through any literature review examples,you will see that it usually consists of several parts. At the very beginning you are supposed to summarize the contents of the book. Don’t go deep into details as there are strict word limits and you have to leave some room for analysis. Do not forget, however, to provide the background information such the title of the book, its author, place and date of publishing and number of pages.
The second part of the review aims to evaluate the text critically. Describe the main ideas of the book, analyze main characters and their behavior, as well as major events. Is there anything to be read between the lines?
To conclude your review, sum up what has been said. Talk about what worked for you in the book and what did not. Locate the book among the other works of the author. Does it fit or does it stand out? Can this book be powerful enough to cause public awareness of the issues dealt with in it?
The same scheme is applied to writing an article review: you are supposed to summarize the content and evaluate the way it was presented to the reader with an emphasis on informative and analytical features of the piece.