Writing an engaging and stimulating essay about a novel can further develop your understanding of the text -- and earn a high grade as well. Even though there are a great number of ways to construct a well-developed essay about a novel, focus on the following prominent elements to ensure success. By analyzing these key elements in relation to a particular novel, you’ll better understand the text and be able to produce a cohesive, successful essay.
The thesis statement is the central argument of your essay. Pinpoint a particular characteristic about the novel that is open for interpretation and develop a position. It must be insightful and possess a clear counter argument. If you believe the protagonist divorced her husband because of her tragic upbringing and not her husband’s infidelity and you are confident the argument will sustain the entire essay, clearly state your position in the introductory paragraph. The thesis statement generally is the final sentence of the introductory paragraph.
Claims & Evidence
The best way to support your thesis statement is to make claims relevant to your central argument in the body of your essay. In order for your claims to have value, they must be justified with specific examples from the text. Analyze, interpret and present specific themes, character motivations, rising actions and all other elements of the novel that you believe support your central argument. The stronger your pieces of evidence are, the easier it will be to prove your claims.
Each claim must transition smoothly into the next. Your essay is a single, cohesive piece, and the better your claims and evidence are able to build off one another the stronger and more persuasive your essay will be as a whole. Without smooth transitions from claim to claim and paragraph to paragraph, your reader will have difficulty piecing all of your positions together. This will inhibit them from seeing that your central argument has warrant and value.
Even though your conclusion is the final paragraph of your essay, it isn't simply a summation of everything you’ve already stated in the rest of the essay. The conclusion needs to elevate the essay as a whole and connect the thesis statement, claims and evidence together in a way that hasn’t yet been achieved. Offer an insight into a particular theme or character that hasn’t been addressed yet, and further convince your reader that your central argument is legitimate.
Jake Shore is an award-winning Brooklyn-based playwright, published short story writer and professor at Wagner College. His short fiction has appeared in many publications including Litro Magazine, one of London's leading literary magazines. Shore earned his MFA in creative writing from Goddard College.