A literary analysis of short stories allows writers to explain the basic elements of the story and make a deeper statement about the plot, characters, symbolism or theme. Writing such an analysis allows students to learn more about the story and gain an appreciation of literature in general. One of the most significant elements of the literary analysis is the thesis statement.

Definition

In any essay, the thesis statement establishes the purpose of the essay for the reader. A good thesis fits the assignment length, makes a statement about your overall point and includes the specific points you will give to support that idea about the story. The thesis must relate to a specific point about the short story such as the argumentative point you want to explain or defend. Place the thesis at the end of the introductory paragraph of the analysis.

Focus

When writing your thesis statement, make sure to clearly state the purpose of your essay to the reader. Narrow your focus to aspects of the story that fits the scope of the assignment, both in terms of the depth of your discussion as well as the minimum word count. For instance, saying a character is "interesting" or that many symbols appear in the story does not give your reader a clear idea of what you will discuss. Instead, choose words that emphasize your point, such as how a character's flaw causes his downfall or how a particular set of symbols illustrate the theme of the story.

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Purpose

The thesis for a literary analysis will determine the organization you will use in the body of the paper. Consider comparing or contrasting characters or situations, explaining a causal relationship between events in the plot, relating how a character fulfills a certain role or discussing how elements, such as the setting, illustrate the theme. Write your thesis with language like "differences," "similar," "cause," "effects" and the element or elements you will cover such as "theme," "character" and "setting."

Subpoints

Add subpoints to your thesis to preview the specifics you will provide in support of your thesis. These may list the characters, symbols, plot elements, similarities, differences, causes or effects you will discuss. Write these subpoints in the same order in your thesis that you will present them in the body of the paper and list them after your main idea in your thesis. For example, a good thesis might be, "The man in Jack London's 'To Build a Fire' fails in his mission due to his overconfidence in himself, his disdain toward nature’s power and his inability to retain his composure."

About the Author

Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.