How to Analyse a Literary Work

PART THREE: ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION SKILLS

UNIT 1: How to Analyse a Literary Work 
Class: FORM THREE & FOUR
In this Unit, the following aspects will be covered:
- Introduction
- How to Analyse Literary Works 
- Full Literary Appreciation Model (LAM)
- Conclusion 

INTRODUCTION
The following analysis and interpretation strategies are very useful for the teachers and students who wish to excel in teaching and learning literature. These skills make students independent readers because they know what to take into consideration when they read the particular literary works.

HOW TO ANALYSE LITERARY WORKS 
Analyzing a literary work involves some important steps. First, you tackle a literary work by reading it once for comprehension, and then once you are steady on your feet with comprehension, you can move on to interpretation. So, when analyzing a fiction, you should consider the following steps:

STEP 1: COMPREHENSION
In comprehension step, you read a literary work once to figure out how the story’s basic parts fit together. Comprehension includes the basic understanding of:
Setting Comprehension
The reader should read a literary text to know the setting of the piece.
Character Comprehension
Here the reader should read the literary text for the first time to identify the characters and their actions.
Plot Comprehension
The reader also should read the text for easy understanding of the flow of the events in the piece.

STEP 2: CLOSE READING AND INTERPRETATION
In this stage, the reader begins to explore setting, characters, and plot more deeply while giving consideration to author’s style and language.
Setting Analysis
Here the reader writes down more detailed information on the setting of the piece; place, time, social environments, and physical environments. More vivid places. Periods of time and environments are identified.
Character Analysis
Here the reader writes down more details on the characters. And this leads to the full understanding of the actions and personalities of the characters of the piece.
Plot Analysis
Again, here the reader takes down more details on the plot of the piece. He/she figure out more about the essential elements of the plot like; exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
Author Style and Language Analysis
This is a longer section where the reader examines various aspects of style and language as well as other literary devices. In this stage, the reader examines the following aspects:
- Author’s Style
- Point of view
- Language
- Symbolism
- Theme
- Message/lessons
- Relevance

STEP 3: FULL LITERARY APPRECIATION MODEL AND A BOOK REPORT (REVIEW) NOTES
Generally, at this stage, the readers/students should take into consideration all the aspects of Form and Content and as they read they should ask themselves some questions to test their understanding of the text. In this step, the reader writes and organises all book details and produce well-analysed notes on the particular literary work. Below are these full stages of analysis of novel, play and short story with some guiding comprehension questions:

There are 3 important stages when analyzing any Literary Work:

STAGE 1: ANALYSIS OF THE FORM

(1) The title - How title reflects the content of the book?
(2) The setting – What is the setting of the book? How is it relevant to the modern societies?
(3) The plot – What is the plot of the book? How are events arranged?
(4) Characterization – Describe the characters of the book. How are characters relevant to the modern people?
(5) The style – Style: (Literary Techniques/Styles like Dances, Songs, etc.)
(6) Language. (Simple, mixed, or complex).
Figurative Language/ Figures of Speech.

STAGE 2: ANALYSIS OF CONTENT
(1) Theme – What are the issues/themes of the text?
(2) Conflict – Explain conflicts found in the book.
(3) Message – What is the message of the text?
(4) Lessons (Morals) – What lesson(s) can you learn from a text?
(5) Philosophy - What is the viewpoint/belief of the writer on the subject matter of the text?

STAGE 3: RELEVANCE OF THE LITERARY WORK 
- How relevant is the book to your own society?

CONCLUSION
This Literary Appreciation Model (LAM) is fully implemented when analyzing literary works in Form Three, Form Four, and Form Five & Six. For Form One and Form Two where short Class Readers Texts are applied these stages should not be fully applied, instead there are other simple literary analysis strategies which are covered in these lower classes. For more about them you can always check the particular topics in these classes.

References
(1) Abrahams, M.H (1971) A Glossary of Literary Terms, Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc. New York.

(2) Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Fourth Course with Readings in World Literature; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.

(3) Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Sixth Course; Literature of Britain with World Classics; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.

(4) Kinsella, K et al (2003) Prentice Hall Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes; Copper Level, Pearson, Upper Saddle River.

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