435 Literary Analysis Essay Topics and Prompts [2024 Upd]

Literature courses are about two things: reading and writing about what you’ve read. For most students, it’s hard enough to understand great pieces of literature, never mind analyzing them. And with so many books and stories out there, choosing one to write about can be a chore.

The picture says that literary analysis involves interpretation and evaluation.

But you’re in luck!

This article by our Custom Writing service experts presents a list of the most interesting and creative literary analysis topics. Additionally, you will find here:

  • helpful essay prompts;
  • a writing guide with simple tips;
  • a literary analysis example.

This comprehensive article can be helpful not only for university or college students but also to students of high and middle school.

🔝 Top 10 Literature Essay Topics for High School

  1. The role of religion in King Lear
  2. Milk symbolism in Beloved
  3. Is there gender inequality in Iliad? 
  4. Social issues of The Little Match Girl
  5. Gender roles in The Great Gatsby
  6. Frankenstein: historical background 
  7. How is loyalty presented in Beowulf?
  8. Flower symbolism in A Rose for Emily
  9. Politics in Titus Andronicus
  10. The presentation of power in Ozymandias  

🔮 Top 10 Literary Analysis Essay Topics for College

  1. Nature symbolism in Young Goodman Brown
  2. Childhood trauma in God Help the Child
  3. The consequences of Macbeth’s ambition 
  4. The historical context of The Scarlet Letter
  5. Presentation of misery in The Chimney Sweeper
  6. The supernatural in The Fall of the House of Usher
  7. What does Dorian Gray’s portrait represent? 
  8. How is the true inner self discovered in Demian? 
  9. Natural beauty in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
  10. Endurance as a theme of The Old Man and the Sea

📜 Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Different Eras

Topics in Ancient Greek & Roman Literature

Works of literature from Ancient Greece have a timeless quality. This is why they are still taught in schools centuries later. After thousands of years, there is little that hasn’t already been written about these works. That’s why we’ve gathered the only most outstanding topics that you will definitely find interesting:

  1. Justice in Plato’s The Republic. Plato is perhaps the most influential thinker in the Western World. Accordingly, writing about his powerful philosophical dialogs is a challenging task. Most teachers will assign only portions of The Republic. We suggest you write about the theme of justice, but you can choose to focus on any other aspect of the dialog.
  2. Determination in Sophocles’ Antigone. Antigone is one of the masterworks of the Greek playwright Sophocles. In this tale of royal succession, key themes include civil disobedience, natural and human law, and faithfulness.
  3. Odysseus as an atypical hero in The Odyssey. The Odyssey by Homer is considered one of the most important poems in Classic literature. Odysseus is a unique epic hero facing an unusual challenge: his goal is not to win battles but to reconnect with his family. He has to rely on his wit rather than sheer power to achieve it. In your essay, explain how Odysseus differs from other heroes in Greek mythology.
  4. Ethical principles in Aesop’s Fables. Aesop’s Fables represent a unique example of Ancient Greek literature. The stories written by a slave have become a cultural phenomenon centuries later. Even today, the morals of his works stay relevant.
  5. The influence of Greek tragedy on modern theater. Sophocles’ and Aeschylus‘ plays can still be found in the repertoire of many theaters. Moreover, their works often serve as inspiration for contemporary playwrights.
  6. The tragedy of Oedipus in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Oedipus is one of the best-known classic tragic heroes. In killing his father and marrying his mother, he fulfilled the prophecy of the Oracle. Through this play, Sophocles explores the themes of destiny and human flaws.
  7. The variety of genres in the Metamorphoses. Millennia after Ovid’s Metamorphoses were written, scholars still argue about the genre of this work. Ovid blended historical events with fiction and experimented with the tone and themes of the poem.
  8. The role of gods in Homer’s epic poems. In Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey, gods often determine the outcomes of major events and change heroes’ destinies. They can become powerful allies or dangerous enemies of humans. Explore how divine interventions change the course of the story in both poems. Focus on Athene, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hera, and Poseidon.
  9. Cicero’s legacy in Western politics and philosophy. Cicero’s letters are widely recognized as some of the most influential works of Latin literature. John Locke, Voltaire, and Martin Luther are among the figures inspired by him. Cicero’s philosophy teaching also influenced revolutionary movements in France and America in the 17th century.

Literary Essay Topics: 19th and 20th Century

Many great literary works in the English language were written in the golden era of the 19th and 20th centuries. These works, ranging from epic novels to short poems, provide insight into the themes that define the Anglophone world’s spirit.

  1. The conflict between good and evil in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes—a character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—is considered the most famous fictional detective of all time. The Adventure of the Speckled Band is the favorite Holmes story of both the author and readers. Accordingly, many students choose to analyze this short story, which explores the themes of chaos.
  2. Lord of the Flies as an allegory of modern society. Students of all ages have read Lord of the Flies, the classic novella by William Golding that explores the dangers of groupthink, the conflicts between rationality and irrationality, and morality and immorality., the classic novella by William Golding that explores the dangers of groupthink, the conflicts between rationality and irrationality, and morality and immorality.
  3. The arbitrary nature of time and history in The Princess Bride. William Goldman’s The Princess Bride is such an entertaining story that it was adapted into an even more popular film. The key theme explored in this book is the power of love to conquer all.
  4. The theme of money and greed in The Rocking Horse Winner. D. H. Lawrence is one of the masters of 20th-century English literature, and his short story The Rocking Horse Winner clearly demonstrates his skill. In this tale of a struggling family, the themes of money and greed are thoroughly explored as a young boy uses clairvoyance gained on a rocking horse to predict race outcomes.
  5. Is Of Mice and Men a classic tale of struggle? The American writer John Steinbeck captured the hardships faced by ordinary people during the Great Depression. The main recurring theme among Of Mice and Men characters is striving after dreams, often futilely, as demonstrated by them all: from George and Lennie to Candy and Curley’s wife.
  6. The themes of reality and fantasy in A Streetcar Named Desire. Tennessee Williams’s masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire is perhaps the most famous American dramatic play of all time. The central theme explored in this provocative play is the contemporary dependence of women on men.
  7. Comparison of Ivan and Alexei in The Brothers Karamazov. The conflict between faith and doubt is arguably the central topic of Dostoevsky’s work, and The Brothers Karamazov is a perfect example of it. Alexei is a devout Orthodox Christian who believes in miracles. His brother, Ivan, rejects the concept of divine transcendence and embraces atheism.
  8. Charles Dickens’ ambivalent attitude towards the poor. Dickens is widely considered an advocate of the poor’s rights and social change. Indeed, many of his impoverished characters are likable. However, Dickens also believes that the poor can be dangerous to society. Some of the works you can discuss are Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and Barnaby Rudge.
  9. Magic realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is written in the genre of magical realism. Marquez tells a fictional story of the Buendia family, blending daily routine with extraordinary events, effectively blurring the line between reality and fiction.
  10. The differences between dystopian worlds in 1984 and A Brave New World. George Orwell and Aldous Huxley wrote the two most famous dystopian novels of the 20th century. In both of them, the government has complete control over society, which is obtained through different strategies. In your essay, you may compare the policies in 1984 and A Brave New World.
  11. On the Road as the landmark novel of the Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac and other members of the Beat movement challenged the typical American middle-class lifestyle in their works. On the Road embodies the main principles of their philosophy. Some of the topics to explore are freedom, spontaneity, and nonconformity.
  12. The role of the changing narrative in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. The Sound and the Fury is often praised for its experimental form. Four narrators tell the story from different perspectives and in contrasting tones. Explore how the changing narrative affects the overall perception of the novel.
  13. Folklore, religion, and myth in Toni Morrison’s works. Toni Morrison is widely recognized as one of the most influential contemporary Black American writers. Her works are inspired mainly by her African heritage and Western mythology. Some of the novels to explore are Beloved and Song of Solomon.
  14. Expression of war experiences in American fiction. Wars in the 20th century had a significant impact on American literature. Many writers participated in armed conflicts. Hemingway, Vonnegut, Salinger, and O’Brien are some of the authors who reflect on their war experiences in semi-autobiographic novels and short stories.
“My mother is a fish” quote.

Contemporary Literature Essay Topics

Excellent books are still being written! Once in a while, your instructor may ask you to analyze a more recent work. Here are a few great books to consider for your next essay.

  1. The theme of overcoming obstacles and poverty in Reservation Blues. Sherman Alexie’s novel Reservation Blues tells the story of a group of young men from the Spokane Indian reservation. They obtain the enchanted guitar of a legendary bluesman. Aside from overcoming obstacles, this book explores many other themes of Native American life.
  2. Family obligations in Montana 1948 by Larry Watson. This novella is set in the Western American state of Montana, where a young man’s family struggles to survive. You may explore the theme of family obligations in conjunction with loyalty and justice.
  3. The presentation of grief in The Lovely Bones. In Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, the protagonist Susie dies violently. And then, her spirit proceeds to watch over the investigation of her disappearance and her family members’ lives.
  4. Self-sacrifice as one of the central themes of Harry Potter. You may also want to write about any other theme of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. But remember: when you write about a book that was turned into a movie, make sure to actually read the book!
  5. Cultural and religious references in Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. One of the most acclaimed novels in recent years, Lincoln in the Bardo deals with the themes of death and the afterlife. A Tibetan concept of bardo inspires Saunders’ work, but the author also borrows ideas from other cultures and religions.
  6. The theme of cultural assimilation in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. In her third novel, Adichie draws upon her personal experiences to tackle the issues African immigrants face when they move to the US. Explore the effects of immigration on the protagonist’s personality, views, and behavior.
  7. Hypocrisy as the central theme of Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, McEwan explores the contrast between public figures’ statements and their personal lives. None of the major characters in the novel act in accordance with their ethical standards. We suggest you focus on the figures of Clive, Vernon, and Julian.
  8. Paul Beatty’s The Sellout: Satire on racial stereotypes. Beatty employs satire and irony to tackle some of the most pressing current issues in American society. The Sellout can be used as an encyclopedia of stereotypes associated with African Americans. Explore how the author uses literary devices to highlight their absurdity.
  9. Cloning ethics in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. In the dystopian world of Never Let Me Go, cloning is a common practice. However, clones are used only as organ donors; they are not perceived as human beings. Explain how Ishiguro uses the narrative to challenge this social norm. For example, his characters can make art and fall in love.
  10. Comparison of the New and Old Gods in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. In American Gods, the narrative is based on the idea that humans created deities. The Old Gods in mythology represent the forces of nature, and The New Gods represent technologies that shape modern society. Discuss the similarities and differences between these two groups.

🖋️ Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Poetry

Many of the great works of literature are poems. Writing about them requires a special approach. Here’s a tip: don’t be afraid to quote the poem heavily and give several alternative interpretations. But first, check out this list of excellent topics:

  1. A real-life war experience in Crane’s War is Kind. An American poet and writer Stephen Crane wrote the acclaimed American Civil War novel The Red Badge of Courage. But not everyone knows that he also wrote a collection of poems entitled War is Kind. Through these poems, he delved deep into the themes of war and violence based on his experience in the Spanish–American and Greco–Turkish Wars.
  2. The theme of religion in John Donne’s sonnets. At the opposite end of the poetry spectrum, you can find the Elizabethan-era Englishman, John Donne. His works were written mainly in the form of sonnets focused on the themes of love, social criticism, death, and religion.
  3. Mysticism in William Butler Yeats’s poetry. The occult, spiritualism, and Irish mythology profoundly influenced Yeats’ work. Many of his poems are preoccupied with the Apocalypse, immortality of the human soul, and the spirit world. Start your research with The Second Coming and Sailing to Byzantium.
  4. Allusions in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. The Raven is widely recognized as one of the most famous poems of all time. It contains numerous references and allusions to the Bible, folklore, and other literary works. Examine and quote Poe’s sources of inspiration.
  5. The meaning of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. Robert Frost’s poetry is often praised for his rich metaphorical language. The Road Not Taken is a quintessential piece that’s often misunderstood. In your essay, you may explore its alternative interpretations.
  6. The evolution of blank verse in English poetry. Blank verse emerged in English poetry in the 16th century and has been used by some of the most influential poets since then. While its main features have remained largely unchanged, many prominent authors experimented with its form. For example, you can analyze the use of blank verse in the poetry of Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth.
  7. Main themes and features of Beat poetry. The Beat movement played a pivotal role in the cultural processes in the post-war US. Beat poetry is characterized by rebellion, transgression, and experiments with form. Some of the authors to check out are Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Gary Snyder.
  8. The narrator in Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself. Unlike many poets of his time, Whitman rejected the dichotomy of body and soul. In Song of Myself, the narrator represents the union of the “temporary” human body with the immortal soul. Consider exploring Whitman’s philosophy behind the notion of “self” in the poem.
  9. William Blake’s influence on British and American poetry and culture. Blake’s contemporaries largely disregarded his poetry. However, his influence on the later generations is hard to overestimate. His values and ideas inspired the Pre-Raphaelites, the Beat Generation, and some of the prominent figures of the American music scene, including Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison. and Jim Morrison.

🎭 Literary Analysis: Shakespeare Essay Topics

Romeo and Juliet Essay Topics

How many Romeo and Juliet personal responses and analysis essays have already been written? There are too many of them to count, but there’s still room for more. Romeo and Juliet essay examples can help you find a unique topic for an essay about the play. Another option is to check out top Romeo and Juliet themes below:

  1. How does fate affect the love plot in Romeo and Juliet?
  2. Concept of contrasts in the language of the play.
  3. The significance of time in Romeo and Juliet
  4. The tragic love theme of Romeo and Juliet as a cliché for romantic fatalism
  5. Mercutio as a representation of loyalty
  6. Montagues and Capulets: the conflict between generations
  7. How is irony used in the play?
  8. The role of the family in Romeo and Juliet
  9. The social and historical context of the play
  10. Nurse’s role in the death of Romeo and Juliet

Hamlet Essay Topics

Shakespeare’s Hamlet may be the most widely assigned play in the English courses. Here are the top Hamlet essay topics worth exploring.

  1. The theme of disillusionment in Hamlet
  2. Mistreatment of women in Hamlet as a representation of misogyny in Shakespeare’s times
  3. How has the tragedy’s theme of madness affected modern literature?
  4. What role does melancholy play in Hamlet?
  5. The connection between friendship and betrayal in the character of Laertes
  6. Comedic elements in Hamlet
  7. The impact of Gertrude and Claudius’ marriage on Hamlet’s revenge
  8. What is the symbolism of The Mousetrap play?
  9. The impact of introspection on Hamlet’s revenge
  10. Analysis of the Denmark setting in Hamlet

Macbeth Essay Topics

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the last (and shortest) of the three big Shakespearean plays every high school student reads before graduation. Like the rest of William Shakespeare’s tragedies, it is full of meaningful themes that can serve as topics for literary analysis essays.

  1. The corrupting influence of ambition in Macbeth
  2. Supernatural elements in Macbeth
  3. The impact of loyalty and betrayal on the plot
  4. What does sleep symbolize in the play?
  5. Why is Macbeth a victim of fate?
  6. The role of darkness as a setting in Macbeth
  7. Is blood a symbol of guilt in Macbeth?
  8. The causes of Macbeth’s mental deterioration
  9. The impact of Macbeth’s hallucinations on his character development
  10. Minor characters’ contributions to the play’s action
Lady Macbeths real name was Gruoch and Macbeth’s real name was Mac Bethad Mac Findlaich.

Shakespeare wrote many more plays beyond the big three listed above. Here are a few more topics and works that show the range of the Bard.

  1. The theme of madness in King Lear. Shakespeare’s King Lear is one of the longest works by the Bard. Many actors feel that the title role is one of the most challenging available for an actor because of the character’s gradual descent into madness. Accordingly, “madness” is perhaps the best topic related to this play.
  2. The presentation of love and adoration in Sonnet 18. Shakespeare’s sonnets make excellent essay topics because they are so concise but rich in meaning. Love and devotion, which are expressed in Sonnet 18 and throughout his other sonnets, serve as great critical analysis essay topics.
  3. The theme of the crown in Shakespeare’s Henry IV
  4. Sexuality, sensuality, and spirituality in William Shakespeare’s sonnets
  5. Ambition in Hamlet and Macbeth: choices of men and women characters
  6. The use of disguise in The Twelfth Night
  7. Different faces of love in Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays
  8. Appearance as the most potent disguise in Shakespeare’s plays
  9. The use of satire in William Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies
  10. The line between acting and real life in Hamlet
  11. Parallels between Shakespeare’s King Lear and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex
  12. The use of allusion in The Tempest
  13. The complexity of the female character in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra
  14. Archetypal female characters in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets
  15. William Shakespeare’s authorship: style, vocabulary, themes, and dates
  16. The role of Shakespeare in the world of literature
  17. How does William Shakespeare use the meter in his plays?
  18. The depiction of the supernatural in Macbeth, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  19. The theme of race and ethnicity in Othello
  20. Personal identity in Hamlet and Henry IV

By the way, you can find all of Shakespeare’s works on our website for free.

📚 English Literature Essay Topics: Different Authors

Some can find it easier to focus on particular authors and their works. Are you one of them? Here are possible topics for those who like traditional approaches.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Geoffrey Chaucer

  1. Chaucer’s works of the French and Italian periods
  2. Primary themes and motifs in Troilus and Criseyde
  3. Women’s virtues, as seen by Chaucer and his contemporaries
  4. Gender: conventions and innovations in Geoffrey Chaucer’s works
  5. Chaucer’s role in the development of a heroic couplet
  6. Chaucer’s use of the vernacular language: nobility and nation
  7. Religious morals in The Canterbury Tales
  8. The roots of class conflict in The Canterbury Tales
  9. Chaucer’s influence on modern English dialects
  10. The critique of clergy in The Canterbury Tales
  11. The influence of medieval Italian poetry on Chaucer’s work
  12. Central themes in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Book of the Duchess
  13. The comparison of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida
  14. Elements of comedy in The Canterbury Tales
  15. Chaucer as a pioneer of rhyme royal in English poetry
  16. Chaucer’s primary sources of inspiration in Roman poetry: Ovid and Virgil
  17. The depiction of the middle class in The Canterbury Tales

Literary Essay Topics on John Keats

  1. Different shapes of death in John Keats’s works
  2. What was wrong with Keats’s Otho the Great?
  3. Byron’s influence on Keats’s style and themes
  4. The uniqueness of John Keats’ imagery
  5. Keats’s letters and their influence on the English literature
  6. Greek classics as a source of inspiration for Keats
  7. Keats’ stance on social and political issues of his time
  8. The importance of nature in Keats’ odes
  9. The themes of melancholy and isolation in Keats’ poetry
  10. Keats’ perception of art and its role in Ode on a Grecian Urn
  11. The polemics on Keats’ statement “Beauty is truth”
  12. The values of Romanticism in Keats’ poetry
  13. Keats’ concept of negative capability and its examples in his poetry
  14. The differences between the Romantic poetry of Keats and Coleridge
  15. Keats’ attitude towards Christianity and pagan mythology

Literature Essay Topics on Oscar Wilde

  1. A perfect wife as depicted in An Ideal Husband
  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray as the aesthete’s manifesto
  3. Wilde’s essential inspirations and the development of his views
  4. The Picture of Dorian Gray: will beauty save the world?
  5. Oscar Wilde’s personal traits in his characters
  6. The Picture of Dorian Gray: Lord Henry’s morality or immorality
  7. Irony, sarcasm, and satire in Oscar Wilde’s works
  8. The use of metaphors in The Ballad of Reading Gaol
  9. The Picture of Dorian Gray: was the young man innocent?
  10. Conventions and innovations in Oscar Wilde’s fairy stories
  11. Oscar Wilde as the most celebrated master of paradox
  12. Play on words in Oscar Wilde’s major works
  13. Christian theme in De Profundis
  14. The Importance of Being Earnest as the critique of Victorian society
  15. The role of the Dance of the Seven Veils in Wilde’s Salome
  16. Wilde’s aesthetic philosophy in his essay The Critic as Artist
  17. The Soul of Man under Socialism: an expression of Wilde’s political views
  18. Wilde as one of the key figures of the Decadent movement
  19. Women characters in Oscar Wilde’s comedies
  20. The theme of sacrifice in Wilde’s short stories
  21. The dichotomy of body and soul in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Fisherman and His Soul
  22. The recurring motifs in Oscar Wilde’s comedies

George Orwell Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  1. Orwell’s imagery in the depiction of totalitarian regimes
  2. George Orwell’s background: inspirations for themes and symbols
  3. Orwell’s views on the English language and literature
  4. The historical context of 1984 and Animal Farm
  5. The role of the media in Orwell’s characters’ lives
  6. The character of the Big Brother in 1984
  7. Naturalism and imagery in The Road to Wigan Pier
  8. Why was Animal Farm regarded as controversial in the 1950s?
  9. Orwell’s religious views in Lear, Tolstoy, and the Fool
  10. Winston Smith’s journey to freedom in 1984

💡 Literary Analysis Topics in Non-Fiction

The world of literature goes far beyond William Shakespeare and fiction in general. Here is a bunch of more literary analysis paper topics for other great works of literature that deal with real-life events.

  1. Religious faith and dehumanization in Night. Elie Wiesel’s classic memoir of the Holocaust is a difficult book for many students to read. And yet, you may need to write a Night by Elie Wiesel essay at some point. Religion and dehumanization are prominent themes that can serve as great topics.
  2. The power of nature in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. The story chronicles the journey of 22-year-old Christopher McCandless from modern society into a 2-year trip in the wilderness of the western United States. This work of non-fiction explores the themes of escape, community, and the power of nature. (Warning: things do not end well for McCandless along the Stampede Trail of Alaska.)
  3. Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King as a source of inspiration for modern politicians and activists. Based on his Letter from Birmingham Jail, MLK’s Why We Can’t Wait is a study of the origins of the civil rights movement in the US. Analyze how activists and politicians can use ideas from this book in the 21st century.
  4. The themes of religion and technological progress in The Education of Henry Adams. In his autobiography, Henry Adams explores the influence of religion and technological progress on society. In the industrial world, technology has become a new religion. You may contrast and compare technological and religious societies in Adams’ work.
  5. The banality of evil in Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. Hannah Arendt offers an original perspective on the nature of war crimes. According to her, ordinary people are capable of the most terrible deeds under specific circumstances. In your essay, explore Arendt’s concept of “the banality of evil.”
  6. The role of photography in modern society, according to Susan Sontag. In her book On Photography, Susan Sontag explores how the role of this medium has been changing throughout the 20th century. Analyze her arguments to establish the relationship between photography and political and social processes.
  7. A Room of One’s Own as a manifesto of women’s literature. A Room of One’s Own reflects the women’s position in the literary scene. Woolf concludes that women’s writing capabilities match those of men. However, they often fail to reach their full potential because of the flawed structure of a male-dominated society.
  8. Haruki Murakami’s Underground: a study of Japanese society. For Underground, Murakami conducted a series of interviews after the terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway. Rather than focusing on the act itself, the author uses this opportunity to explore the social issues that plague Japanese society.
  9. T. S. Eliot’s literary criticism and views on poetry. T. S. Eliot is one of the most important literary critics and theorists of the early 20th century. His theories and arguments have largely shaped the New Criticism movement in literature. Analyze the ideas expressed in Tradition and the Individual Talent and Hamlet and His Problems.

Literary Analysis Topics: Other Ideas

Literary essays don’t have to be devoted to analyzing a particular work. They may also include textual analysis essays, literary interpretations, critical response essays, and topic analyses. Here are some excellent options for you to consider:

  1. Character development of various protagonists. You may write an analytical essay describing and interpreting changes in the central characters of different novels. Try to be precise, provide examples, and prove the significance of these changes. You can consider the development of Soames in The Forsyte Saga or the title character in David Copperfield.
  2. Context analysis of a historical period. Your analysis paper can be devoted to the settings of the short story, play, poem, or novel. Make emphasis on the role of the context in explaining the characters and the key ideas. For example, you can explore the wartime setting in Gone with the Wind.
  3. Analysis of genre conventions. Another good choice is to dwell upon the practices used by various authors belonging to the same literary genre. You can write a critical essay about a realistic, romantic, gothic, or any other kind of novel and the author’s ability to meet or challenge genre expectations.
  4. The impact of an author’s life on their legacy. The background of a novelist, short-story writer, poet, or playwright may also be of great interest to the reader. However, it is not enough to narrate the author’s life: you must be able to connect it with their style and themes. The most demonstrative analysis examples may include Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, and Lord Byron.
  5. Comparative analysis of two authors. It is also a good idea to compare several authors. A critical evaluation essay may estimate their impact on the development of their genre. If these authors come from different backgrounds, it is also possible to evaluate how the culture they belonged to made a difference. For example, write about Dickens vs. Thackeray or Joyce vs. Woolf.
  6. Comparative analysis of two texts. If you don’t want to compare authors, you may try comparing two literary works on the same topic or belonging to the same epoch or genre. For example, try analyzing the similarities and differences between Canterbury Tales and Decameron.
  7. Analysis of a literary work’s structure. Analysis topics may include the stream-of-consciousness technique, theater of the absurd, etc. The idea is to show how new expressive means transformed the traditional approach to plot building and character development.
  8. The role of irony in short stories. If you are to analyze a short story, you may describe how the author uses irony to communicate their message. Show how it creates meaning and what underlies it. Numerous authors employ irony as the major tool in their short stories, including Jerome K. Jerome and Salinger.
  9. Analyzing the climax in a novel. Describing how the author builds the plot to reach the culmination is a good option for a novel critical analysis essay. Track how the tension is created and how it is released when the climax is reached. For example, you can try analyzing the climax in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  10. Mood expression in a novel of your choice. Your essay may investigate how the vocabulary and grammar chosen by an author contribute to the text’s atmosphere. You can consider analyzing Lolita or Sons and Lovers.
  11. The role of dialogue in plays. Your critical paper may highlight what means the playwright uses to make the characters’ speech expressive. For example, examine Oscar Wilde’s plays or Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
  12. Stage directions in plays. You may also want to pay attention to the importance of the author’s notes and scene directions in a play. They are particularly crucial in modern drama. Consider analyzing Beckett’s Waiting for Godot or Shaw’s Heartbreak House.
  13. The use of allegory in poems. It’s an excellent topic for poem analysis. You can suggest your own literary interpretation of an allegory or consider why the author opted for this device. For example, consider analyzing the allegories in Vision of Judgement.
  14. An open ending in a novel. Suppose the work under analysis doesn’t have a conflict resolution. In that case, your critical evaluation essay can give arguments for the author’s choice and interpret its meaning and possible continuation scenarios. For example, you may analyze an open ending in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.
  15. Comparison of critical opinions on a novel. If the piece you have read ranks among the best-known works in the world, it would be a good idea to compare literary criticism examples related to this work. You may select two different critics and juxtapose their views. For example, try comparing critical opinions on Mrs. Dalloway.
  16. Analyzing side characters in literary works. If your task is to analyze a character, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should write about a protagonist. A more creative approach would be to pick a static character that doesn’t go through any transformations throughout the book and suggest why the author made them this way. One option is to write about side characters in Vanity Fair.
  17. The narrative voice in novels. It can be challenging yet enjoyable to describe the narrative voice and focalization techniques that help the reader see the events in a certain way. It is especially complicated when a text has several points of view. For example, you may choose to analyze the narrative voice in Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom! or As I Lay Dying.
  18. The narrators in literature. The previous topic can be narrowed: you can take a work written from a first-person point of view and draw parallels between the author and the main character. For example, you can consider writing about the narrator in Moby Dick.
  19. The cultural background of Dumas’ novels. In the case of historical novels, an analytical paragraph may be devoted to the historical and cultural background. Any of Alexandre Dumas’ novels, such as The Three Musketeers, may serve as perfect literature examples to write about.
  20. Imagery used by various poets. You can analyze specific images that poets use in their works. For example, try analyzing how Walt Whitman uses industrial imagery in his works.
Alice Walker won Pulitzer prize.
Source: pbs.org

Profound Literary Analysis Topics in Women’s Literature

Literary analysis on the topics of gender and women in society is critical to understanding the modern world. Here are a few powerful essay topics in this area.

  1. The disruption of traditional gender roles in The Color Purple. According to New Republic, this National Book Award-winning work is considered a cultural touchstone for African American women. It features many heavy themes, such as sexism and racism. Keep in mind that this book is not for the faint of heart.
  2. The themes of family and generational differences in Alice Walker’s short story Everyday Use. The short story is about heirloom possessions passed down from one generation of women to another.
  3. Social standing and wealth as the two key themes in Pride and Prejudice. The protagonist of this book, Elizabeth Bennet, must choose between two suitors. One is an amiable man. The other is better established in society but has a colder personality.
  4. Marriage and social status in Emma. Emma is the tale of a young woman less interested in securing her own marriage than her sisters. You can analyze the constraints placed upon women in 17th-century society as reflected in this book.
  5. Women’s role in society and gender roles according to The Great Lawsuit. The Great Lawsuit is often considered one of the most important early feminist works. The author, Margaret Fuller, argues that gender equality is a crucial aspect of a progressive society. She describes an ideal relationship between a man and a woman as an intellectual companionship.
  6. Dystopia and feminism in A Handmaid’s Tale. In A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood describes a world where women’s societal role is reduced to producing children. This work largely follows the traditions of classic dystopian novels written by Orwell and Huxley. Explore how the presence of the feminist discourse makes Atwood’s work stand out.
  7. Gertrude Stein’s experiments with form and style. Gertrude Stein’s work is notable for her distinctive avant-garde style. Stein was an avid art collector, and trends in visual arts influenced her writings. Her narratives are characterized by the original use of tenses, repetitions, and archaisms.
  8. The stream of consciousness in Virginia Woolf’s work. Virginia Woolf was one of the first writers to systematically use the stream of consciousness in her works. The narratives of her novels, such as Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, are rooted in the descriptions of characters’ emotions and thoughts.
  9. Political writings of Mercy Otis Warren. Mercy Otis Warren is famous for her political poems and plays written during the American Revolution. Explain how she used political satire to criticize the British rule. Start your research with the plays The Adulateur, The Defeat, and The Group.
  10. Gender inequality in Jane Eyre. Widely recognized as one of the most successful works of women’s literature, Jane Eyre was a revolutionary novel for its time. It depicts the struggles of women in their fight for independence and equality in patriarchal Victorian society.
  11. The blend of fiction and reality in The Yellow Wallpaper. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote The Yellow Wallpaper to document the trauma and stress she had experienced due to “rest therapy” prescribed to her by a psychiatrist. Back then, women suffering from depression were discouraged from any intellectual activity, as it was thought that “domestic life” would benefit them. In Gilman’s story, this treatment ultimately drives the protagonist to insanity.
  12. Cleopatra in literature: from Geoffrey Chaucer to Margaret George
  13. The depiction of Eve in Milton’s Paradise Lost
  14. Archetypical female and male characters in Beowulf
  15. Emmy’s submissiveness and Rebecca’s quick-wittedness in Vanity Fair
  16. William Makepeace Thackeray’s Becky Sharp as an antihero
  17. Becky Sharp as seen by Thackeray’s contemporaries and modern readers
  18. Women empowerment and independence in Jane Austen’s novels
  19. Women’s love and death: Shakespeare’s Ophelia and Wilde’s Sibyl
  20. A Room of One’s Own: a woman’s manifesto still relevant now
  21. First female voices in the Middle Ages: Aelia Eudocia Augusta
  22. The Brontë sisters: Lady writers who broke the rules
  23. Gender roles as depicted by Maugham in Theatre
  24. This is the woman’s world: feminist utopias and dystopias
  25. Female writers: themes explored in the 1910s vs. 2010s
  26. Women characters’ virtues and vices in the 19th century
  27. Women of color: themes of violence, discrimination, and empowerment
  28. A Doll’s House as seen by Ibsen’s contemporaries
  29. Is Ibsen’s A Doll’s House still relevant today?
  30. Beauty standards as women’s oppression in The Bluest Eye
  31. The complexity of the mother-daughter relationship in Tony Morrison’s Beloved
  32. The evolvement of masculinity from medieval to postmodern literature
  33. Masculinity in The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway
  34. Masculinity, identity, and queerness in Tennessee Williams’s works
  35. Gender roles in utopias and dystopias: More and Huxley
  36. Sexuality and gender stereotypes in Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire
  37. Charles Dickens’s depiction of aging men and women
  38. Fairy tales as sources of gender stereotypes

Powerful Literary Analysis Topics within the Subject of Race

  1. Colonialism in J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians. A short Waiting for the Barbarians summary should capture the narrative of the escalation of tensions between a fictional colonial town and its surrounding indigenous population. When the protagonist helps a native woman, he begins to doubt the humanity of colonialism.
  2. The portrayal of racism in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Heart of Darkness is the chilling tale of young Marlow’s voyage up the Congo River. There he meets the wicked ivory trader Kurtz. The book explores the themes of imperialism and racism. It also questions the civility of Western society over supposedly “savage” indigenous people.
  3. The conflict between man and nature in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain is one of the greatest American writers and satirists. But his masterpiece The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn delved into themes that would make some of the most serious literary analysis essay topics, such as the theme of freedom vs. slavery.
  4. The theme of prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee’s novel was an instant classic upon release. To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the American South, and, like many books by Southern authors, it explores the themes of race and justice.
  5. Anti-slavery narrative and racist stereotypes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was one of the first universally acclaimed novels to tackle slavery. However, it is often criticized for its stereotypical portrayal of Black characters. Hence, it remains one of the most controversial pieces of American literature.
  6. De Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk as the precursor of the Civil Rights movement. De Bois’ essays have largely laid the groundwork for the campaigns for racial equality in the 20th century. He argued that African Americans deserved fundamental rights the White population had: voting, getting a higher education, and being treated fairly according to the law.
  7. The notion of Black pride in A Raisin in the Sun. Lorraine Hansberry’s famous play touches upon topics of racial identity and pride inspired by real events. A Black family wants to purchase a house in a White neighborhood, but they are dissuaded from buying it. Eventually, they refuse to accept the buyout offer and move to their new place as planned.
  8. Jefferson as a folk hero in A Lesson Before Dying. In A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines tells a story of a young Black man wrongfully accused of murder. Treated by White people as a sub-human, Jefferson completely loses his self-esteem at some point. However, with the help of a local Black teacher, he regains his pride and meets death with dignity. Explain how Jefferson’s transformation makes him a folk hero.
  9. The impact of discriminatory laws on the life of African Americans in Fences. August Wilson’s Fences explores how discriminatory laws and attitudes defined the life of African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement. The protagonist, Troy Maxson, is a talented baseball player whose life is ruined because he didn’t get a chance to play in the professional league due to racial restrictions.
  10. Internalized racism in Morrison’s Song of Solomon. In her book Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison explores the issue of internalized racism. Hagar and Macon Dead are the characters to study. Macon Dead, a Black entrepreneur, hates people of color and wants to leave his community. Hagar envies women with a lighter skin tone, as she sees them as superior to her.
  11. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: A story of hatred and trauma. Maya Angelou is renowned for her autobiographical novels dealing with challenging topics like racism, trauma, and violence. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings addresses the issues she faced growing up as a Black child in a White neighborhood.

Death-Related Literature Essay Topics

  1. Death in works of dying writers: Keats and Blake
  2. Death in Milton’s poetry: imagery and symbols
  3. Emily Dickinson’s fascination with decay, degradation, and death
  4. John Keats’s and William Shakespeare’s depictions of death
  5. Views on death in the Renaissance literature
  6. Murder and suicide in Shakespeare’s tragedies Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet
  7. Depictions of death in Postmodernist literature
  8. Aging as seen in medieval, Renaissance, and Postmodernist literature
  9. Death and decay in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
  10. Love, life, and death in Huxley’s dystopian society
  11. Murder in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men
  12. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick: The concepts of life and death
  13. Simon’s death in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
  14. Kate Chopin’s ironic take on death in The Story of an Hour
  15. Seneca’s life and philosophy: Death as liberation
  16. The role of death in existentialism
  17. The theme of death in Ernest Hemingway’s works
  18. The depiction of heaven and hell in Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come
  19. The concept of free death in Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy
  20. Gothic writers’ fascination with death
  21. Hades: The realm of the dead in Greek mythology

Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Man and Nature

  1. Dehumanizing nature: Robinson Crusoe and Lord of the Flies
  2. Struggles with nature: Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Paulsen’s Hatchet
  3. Nature’s wonders and dangers in Emily Dickenson’s works
  4. Natural forces: from Homer to H. G. Wells
  5. Power of natural forces in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest
  6. The depiction of nature in Fears in Solitude by Coleridge
  7. William Wordsworth’s poetic language and symbols used to describe nature
  8. Nature in Brave New World: urban and rural settings
  9. Nature in post-apocalyptic novels: decay and revival
  10. The role of nature in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
  11. The conflict between man and nature in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea
  12. Post-apocalyptic fiction as the critique of industrial society
  13. Environmentalism in Ursula Le Guin’s works
  14. Personal life and climate change in Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior
  15. The role of nature in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden
  16. The emergence of eco-fiction—a new genre in world literature
  17. Nature in Romanticism: Comparison of Shelley’s, Wordsworth’s, and Keats’ poetry
  18. Natty Bumppo’s and Judge Temple’s conflicting views on nature in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pioneers
  19. The impact of country life on the character development in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses

Literary Essay Topics on Religion

  1. Religious influences: biblical themes and allusions in Beowulf
  2. Religion as another burden in The Bluest Eye
  3. Views on religious conventions in Milton’s Paradise Lost
  4. Jonathan Swift’s satirical view of religions in Gulliver’s Travels
  5. The role of religion in Charles Dickens’s works
  6. The evolvement of religious beliefs in John Dryden’s works
  7. Religious controversies as depicted in John Milton’s Paradise Lost
  8. A spiritual journey in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure
  9. Biblical references in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick
  10. Alternative narrative of the Biblical events in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita
  11. The meaning of Friedrich Nietzsche’s statement “God is Dead”
  12. Billy’s Christian values in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five
  13. The figure of Moses in Biblical and Quranic narratives
  14. Influence of The Pilgrim’s Progress on British and American literature
  15. Buddhist and Hindu motives in Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha
  16. Immanuel Kant’s critique of the arguments for the existence of God and his discussion of morality
  17. Søren Kierkegaard’s critique of Christianity
  18. Christian narratives and metaphors in C.S. Lewis’ works

Literary Analysis Topics: Justice and Judgment

  1. The Hunchback of Notre Dame: who was the monster?
  2. Justice and judgment in To Kill a Mockingbird
  3. The role of judgment in Jane Austen’s novels
  4. Judgment in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child
  5. A view of justice in John Milton’s Paradise Lost
  6. Justice in dystopian novels: works of Orwell and Huxley
  7. Judgment and guilt in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
  8. The difference between justice and revenge in Aeschylus Oresteia
  9. The genre of legal thriller in American literature
  10. The themes of guilt, responsibility, and punishment in Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader
  11. Justice and judgment in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment
  12. Courtroom drama in American and British literature
  13. Behavior modification experiment as an alternative to a prison sentence in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange
  14. Jeremy Bentham’s concept of panopticon prison and its critique in the works of other authors
  15. Michel Foucault’s critique of the Western penal system
  16. The role of the judgment of Paris in the Trojan War according to Greek mythology
  17. Depiction of racial injustice in the works of African American authors

Literature Essay Topics on Good & Evil

  1. A dichotomy of good and evil in the Middle Ages
  2. Monsters and heroes in Beowulf: Beowulf, Hrothgar, Grendel
  3. Wilde’s aesthetics: ugly is worse than evil
  4. John Milton’s Satan: the good, the bad, and the beautiful
  5. Victorian literary tradition: societal norms and personal happiness
  6. Villains in the 19th– and 20th-century literary works
  7. The good and the bad: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  8. Evil forces of death in The Fall of the House of Usher
  9. Presentation of good and evil in The Tempest characters
  10. The contrast between Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights
  11. Young Goodman Brown: a conflict between morality and temptation
  12. The Creature and the humans in Frankenstein

Literary Analysis Essay Topics on War & Peace

  1. Depiction of war in Shakespeare’s plays
  2. The war between archangels and demons in Paradise Lost
  3. War in Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children
  4. War and peace in George Orwell’s 1984
  5. Margaret Mitchell’s and Toni Morrison’s views on the Civil War
  6. War as a part of human nature in Faulkner’s A Fable
  7. Steinbeck’s exploration of injustice in The Grapes of Wrath
  8. Wrongs of the modern society in Palahniuk’s Fight Club
  9. The themes of war and nationality in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient
  10. The Civil War as the background for Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
  11. Main themes in Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front
  12. Depiction of war in Alexandre Dumas’ historical novels
  13. The Cold War in John Le Carre’s novels
  14. The political context of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible: The Cold War and McCarthyism
  15. Depiction of war in children’s fiction
  16. Leo Tolstoy’s views on history in War and Peace
  17. Anti-militarism in Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms
  18. Literature as a tool of cultural influence during the Cold War: The case of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago

Literary Essay Topics on Vices on the Society

  1. Thackeray: the culture of the 19th century as Vanity Fair
  2. Dickens’s perspectives concerning social injustice in Oliver Twist
  3. Ethnicity, discrimination, and identity in Orwell’s Burmese Days
  4. Vices of totalitarian societies in George Orwell’s 1984
  5. Injustice, torture, and dehumanization in Elie Wiesel’s Night
  6. Vices of society in Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
  7. J’Accuse: Emile Zola’s letter as critique of antisemitism and corruption
  8. The emergence of transgressive fiction as a protest against conventional society
  9. Critique of consumer society in Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World
  10. Social satire and political commentary in Harold Pinter’s later plays
  11. Ray Bradbury’s science fiction as a means of social criticism
  12. The emergence of dystopia: Evgeny Zamyatin’s We
  13. Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon as a critique of the totalitarian society
  14. Claudius as an embodiment of human vices in Robert Graves’ I, Claudius
  15. Geoffrey Chaucer’s critique of the wrongs of society in The Canterbury Tales

Interesting Literature Topics to Analyze: Literary Influences

  1. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s interpretation of the Prometheus myth
  2. William Shakespeare’s borrowings from ancient Greek writings and myths
  3. Myths as a source of inspiration for Byron and Keats
  4. Virginia Wolf’s fascination with Greek literature and Hellenism
  5. James Joyce’s interpretation and use of Homer’s The Odyssey
  6. Salome: Oscar Wilde’s retelling of a biblical story
  7. John Milton’s exploration and interpretation of a biblical story
  8. The influence of Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works
  9. Biblical motifs in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  10. Don Quixote as an inspiration for Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot
  11. Beowulf’s impact on J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit
  12. Shakespearean myths in Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Literature Essay Topics: Various Genres

  1. The evolution of horror fiction: from Mary Shelley to Stephen King
  2. The place of fantasy in the modern literature
  3. Why have fantasy novels gained such popularity today?
  4. Fantasy novels by Tolkien and Martin: styles, imagery, themes
  5. Major elements of modern fantasy novels and stories
  6. The origins of fantasy fiction: the earliest works
  7. The evolution of adventure fiction: from Homer to Fleming
  8. Horror fiction: Stoker’s Dracula vs. Shelley’s Frankenstein
  9. Theologus Autodidactus as an example of science fiction
  10. Merging scientific and poetic elements in science fiction poetry
  11. Comparing tragicomedies of Ancient Greece and 20th-century Europe
  12. Significant features of a tragicomedy in postmodernist and metamodernist writings
  13. Primary components of a coming-of-age novel: female and male perspectives
  14. Elements of the coming-of-age novel in London’s Martin Eden
  15. Satire in contemporary British and American literature
  16. Satire or cynical humor: exploring Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary
  17. Literary devices in naturalistic writing: Emile Zola’s approach
  18. Elements of an antinovel in Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy
  19. Early examples of short stories: Charles Dickens’s style
  20. Timeframes and symbols in Jonathan Nolan’s Memento Mori
  21. Dystopian fiction in the 20th and 21st centuries
  22. Coming-of-age novel or American dream novel: The Great Gatsby
  23. The role of education and the media in dystopias
  24. Crime fiction: is it pulp reading or high literature?
  25. The suspense in Agatha Christies’ and Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings
  26. The vampire in the 19th-century and 21st-century literature

Literary Topics: Uncommon Themes in Literature

  1. Allegory and choice of animals in Orwell’s Animal Farm
  2. Allegories in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily
  3. Multiculturalism and allusions in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
  4. Faulkner’s metaphors in The Sound and the Fury
  5. Imagery in Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem The Raven
  6. Music and enigma in The Raven
  7. The role of personification in William Blake’s poetry
  8. Comparing Ancient Greek and William Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter
  9. The function of trochaic meter in Shakespeare’s works
  10. Symbolism and imagery in William Blake’s poem Ah Sunflower
  11. Symbols and metaphors in The Picture of Dorian Gray
  12. Flower symbolism in D.H. Lawrence Odour of Chrysanthemums
  13. Color as a symbol of Morrison’s God Help the Child
  14. Symbolism in Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
  15. Satire in Absalom and Achitophel by John Dryden
  16. Jane Austen’s personal traits in the narrator of Persuasion
  17. Early forms of the stream of consciousness: Jane Austen’s style
  18. Epistolary novels: works of Bram Stocker and Mary Shelley
  19. Slave’s narrative in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
  20. Peculiarities of addressing the reader in Shakespeare’s sonnets
  21. Virginia Wolf’s stream of consciousness: narration or confession?
  22. The narrator in Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage
  23. Authorial intrusion as a way to entice readers

🖊️ Literary Analysis Prompts: Top 21

We’ve gathered a total of 21 excellent literary analysis prompts for you. They cover a wide variety of genres and epochs, so you’ll surely find something that suits your needs. Check them out to gain inspiration for your assignment or project!

The Cask of Amontillado Literary Analysis Prompt

  • The central theme of The Cask of Amontilladois revenge. In your essay, you can analyze how suspense contributes to the revenge plot.
  • You may also explore the story’s tone and how it helps to build tension.
  • Alternatively, you can focus on the Gothic elements and their impact on the story’s atmosphere.

A Rose for Emily Literary Analysis Prompt

  • There are several important symbols in A Rose for Emily, such as a strand of hair, Emily’s house, or the ticking watch. You can dive deeper into their meaning and significance.
  • You may also focus on the story’s themes. They include death and conflict between generations.
  • Try analyzing literary devices Faulkner uses, including metaphors, irony, and personification. How do they contribute to the story’s mood?

The Story of an Hour Literary Analysis Prompt

  • One of the central themes featured in The Story of an Hour is freedom. Analyze what kind of freedom is discussed and how free the main character really is.
  • You may also explore Kate Chopin’s writing style. For example, focus on how irony complements the story’s plot and tone.
  • Another aspect that you can focus on is symbolism. Notable examples include time, death, and heart trouble.

Tell-Tale Heart Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Analyze why Edgar Allan Poe chose to tell the story in the first person. How does it contribute to the gloomy tone?
  • Or, you may focus on the story’s themes: guilt, confinement, and mental health. How are they represented?
  • Finally, you can examine the symbols in Tell-Tale Heart, such as the house, the bed, the bedroom, and the eye. Try to find out the meaning behind them.

Fahrenheit 451 Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Explore the use of animal imagery and the lack of nature descriptions in the novel.
  • You can also focus on the harmful effect of technology and its contribution to the dystopian world of Fahrenheit 451.
  • The story’s central theme is censorship vs. freedom of speech. You may explore this conflict in your essay.

Prompt for a Literary Analysis of The Canterbury Tales

  • Analyze the themes of The Canterbury Tales. These include deceit, the church’s corruption, and the importance of company.
  • Focus on examining the writing style. Try to find out how it contributes to the tales’ tone and atmosphere.
  • You may also explore the symbols, such as clothing, appearance, and spring. If you’re curious about this literary work, check out our article on the symbols in The Canterbury Tales.

Prompt for a Literary Analysis of Barn Burning

  • Consider examining the conflict between loyalty to one’s family and obedience to the law.
  • Focus on analyzing the symbols of Barn Burning, such as the soiled egg and fire.
  • You can also explore the role of darkness in the story. Dive deeper into its contribution to the tone of Barn Burning.

Make sure to check out our Barn Burning study guide to learn more facts about the story.

Death of a Salesman Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Examine how the author covers the American dream theme in Death of a Salesman. What is the characters’ interpretation of the American dream?
  • You can also try analyzing the symbols in the play, such as diamonds, seeds, the rubber hose, and Linda’s stockings.
  • You may also focus on exploring the mythological figures connected with the story. Dive deeper into the comparisons to the Greek gods, such as Hercules and Adonis.

Want to know more? Check out our Death of a Salesman study guide.

Frankenstein Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • In your essay, you can focus on the symbols of Frankenstein, such as darkness and fire. Why are they important?
  • Another aspect you can concentrate on is the point of view. Mary Shelley writes from the perspective of 3 different characters. What does it help to achieve?
  • You can also explore the novel’s themes: sublime nature, family, creation, and dangerous knowledge. Check out our article on the themes in Frankenstein to learn more about them.

Hamlet Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • There are numerous themes in Hamlet that you can examine in your essay, including revenge, the supernatural, death, corruption, and politics.
  • You can also focus on the symbols of the story and their significance. They include Hamlet’s dark clothes, the skull, and the weather.
  • One of the motifs in Hamlet is misogyny. You can analyze its representation in the play.

To understand the play better, check out our Hamlet study guide.

Hamlet has been translated into Klingon.
Source: goodreads.com

Prompt for a Literary Analysis of Night by Elie Wiesel

  • One of the themes of Night is silence. You can explore why it is important and what it represents.
  • You can also focus on the symbolism of night and fire. Try to find out the meaning behind them.
  • Consider analyzing the characters in the novel and their actions in dramatic situations. Check out our article on characters in Night to learn more.

Othello Literary Analysis Prompt

  • One of the central themes of Othello is isolation and its dangers. Examine how it is portrayed.
  • Another theme you can analyze is that of justice. Try focusing on how the characters are driven by the desire to do always the right thing.
  • Consider exploring the famous metaphors from the play, such as jealousy being a “green-eyed monster.”

If you want to understand this literary work better, make sure to check out our Othello study guide.

Pride and Prejudice Literary Analysis Prompt

  • When it comes to the themes in Pride and Prejudice, you can focus on integrity, love, family, gender, class, and reputation.
  • Another central theme of the novel is marriage. Discuss the importance of marriage and its connection to social status and money.
  • In your essay, you can elaborate on the symbolism of dancing and its significance.

Don’t forget to check out our study guide on Pride and Prejudice to learn more about the novel’s elements.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Consider analyzing the motifs of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: games, the color green, and the seasons.
  • Apart from the motifs, you can also examine the themes of nature, chivalry, Christianity, courtesy, and truth. To learn more about them, check out our article on the themes of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
  • Finally, you may explore the symbolism of the green girdle. It’s an essential element of the poem and deserves special attention.

The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • One of the most popular symbols of The Great Gatsby is the green light. You can focus on exploring its iconic status in world literature.
  • One of the central themes of The Great Gatsby is the American dream. Analyze how it is portrayed and the author’s attitude to it.
  • Another idea for an essay is to write about the novel’s characters: Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, the Buchanans, and others. Make sure to read our article on The Great Gatsby characters to understand them better.

The Lottery Literary Analysis Prompt

  • What role do family ties play in The Lottery? You can dive deeper into this motif and analyze its meaning and importance.
  • Another central theme of The Lottery is tradition. Your essay can focus on how dangerous it is to follow conventional practices blindly.
  • There are several symbols in the story, but the lottery itself is the key one. You can explore what it represents. And don’t forget to check out our analysis of The Lottery to learn more.

Kafka’s Metamorphosis Literary Analysis Prompt

  • One of the major themes of Metamorphosis is psychological distance. You can analyze how the main character’s transformation leads to his alienation.
  • Explore the story’s recurring symbols, such as food, the father’s uniform, and the portrait of a woman wearing furs.
  • Another point that you can focus on is the motifs of the story. They include transformation and sleep.

You’re welcome to read our The Metamorphosis study guide to learn more about the story.

The Necklace Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Consider analyzing the story’s themes. Some examples are greed, the deceptiveness of appearances, and vanity. Check out our article on The Necklace’s themes to learn all about them.
  • You can also focus on exploring the symbolism of the necklace. Try to dive deeper into how a piece of jewelry is connected to high status and wealth.
  • Explore how the class conflict is presented in The Necklace. You can also analyze the author’s attitude to it.

The Odyssey Literary Analysis Prompt

  • In your essay, focus on the epic’s main themes: vengeance, hospitality, and loyalty.
  • Homer uses many epithets in The Odyssey to describe the sea, such as “wine-dark.” Look into what they may represent.
  • Another good point for discussion is the symbolism. Consider discussing the significance of the wedding bed, the sea, eagles, and food.

To understand the poem better, check out our The Odyssey study guide.

The Yellow Wallpaper Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • The wallpaper is the central symbol of the story. In your essay, try to uncover its significance and how it affects the main character.
  • You can also analyze how Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses different types of irony in the story. Examples include dramatic, verbal, and situational irony.
  • You can also focus on The Yellow Wallpaper’s themes. Some of them are self-expression, mental illness, gender roles, miscommunication, and the role of women in marriage.

Don’t forget to check out our study guide if you want to know more.

Wuthering Heights Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Explore the symbolism of moors, nature, and ghosts. Emily Bronte uses these symbols to represent not only abstract ideas but also characters’ personalities.
  • You can also examine the central themes of Wuthering Heights. Some of them are love and passion, class conflict, revenge, and the supernatural.
  • Another point worth writing about is nature imagery and how the author uses it to represent the characters’ personalities. To learn about it, make sure to check out our Wuthering Heights analysis.

✍️ Writing a Literary Analysis: Step by Step

Now, after you’ve decided on your topic, it is time to write your analysis.

Don’t know where to start? Well, we got your back! Here are some steps for you to write a great literary essay.

Step #1 Carefully read the text and think of possible topics. Is there anything that stands out? What did you personally find interesting? Focus on what you will enjoy researching and writing about.
Step #2 Think of the text’s idea. Find out the main point of the literary work. Pay attention to the settings, plot, dialogue, tone, writing techniques, figures of speech, and character development.
Step #3 Now, it’s time to create a thesis statement. Try to make it clear but debatable.
Step #4 After you are done with the thesis, try to find more evidence in the text and organize it. Make sure your thesis interprets the evidence you found.
Step #5 Create a rough draft. Making an outline and a bubble map can help organize your ideas and draw the connections between them.
Step #6 You can now revise your rough draft. Don’t forget to proofread your essay and check your punctuation, writing style, transitions, grammar, and paper structure. Make sure your thesis is stated clearly, and your evidence supports it.
Plagiarism definition.
Source: ox.ac.uk

If you wish to learn more, you can check out our guide on how to write a literary analysis.

Best Tips for Writing a Literary Analysis

There are many things to keep in mind when writing about literature. But there’s no need to worry: we are here to help you. Here are the four components that will help to make sure you get an excellent grade on your essay:

  1. Make sure you refer to the literature you write about in the proper format. For example, the titles of plays and full-length books should be italicized, while poems and short stories should be in quotation marks. You may consult Purdue University’s excellent citation guides to be on the safe side.
  2. Ensure that the quotes are properly attributed with the correct page numbers.
  3. Avoid directly quoting or borrowing arguments from previously published literary analysis samples. Using the same forms of argument and language is a form of plagiarism.
  4. Remember that you need a brief introduction with a clear thesis statement, distinct body paragraphs, and a cohesive conclusion. If you find it hard to write concisely, feel free to use our essay shortener to save time.

📃 Literary Analysis Example for Free

Looking for a fully-formatted literary analysis example? Look no further! Download our excellent sample in PDF format below.


The Little Match Girl is a short story by Hans Christian Andersen. It’s a touching tale about a poor girl who spends New Year’s Eve working on the streets, dreaming of a better life, and warming herself by lighting matches she failed to sell. Some of the main themes include loneliness, struggle, and cruelty.

The Themes of The Little Match Girl
Download the free sample

We hope that you found some inspiration to take your essay on the next level. Let us know what literary studies topic you like the most and other literary analysis ideas you have!

❓ Literary Analysis Essay FAQs

What should be avoided in literary analysis?

If you’re writing a literary analysis, make sure you don’t summarize the text you are analyzing. Instead, focus on your thesis and the supporting evidence. You should also avoid using phrases such as “in my opinion.”

What should a literary analysis contain?

A literary analysis should always include information on the text’s components. They include plot, setting, themes, motifs, imagery, tone, and character analysis. Don’t forget to write about the way the author uses these elements and how they contribute to the overall work.

How do you start a literary analysis?

The introductory part of your literary analysis should include a thesis statement that conveys the structure of your essay. Don’t forget to mention the author and provide background information about the text. Remember to start your body paragraphs with a topic sentence.

How long is a literary analysis essay?

A literary analysis is usually 5-paragraphs long. The introduction and conclusion consist of one paragraph each, while the main body has three.

What kind of text is a literary analysis?

A literary analysis is a type of writing assignment containing an analysis of a literary piece. In a literary analysis, you should evaluate and interpret the work by analyzing its plot, setting, motifs, themes, characters, and style.

Further reading:

🔗 References

This article was developed by the editorial team of Custom-Writing.org, a professional writing service with 3-hour delivery.
Comments (1)


Thank you so much! That gave me a great start!