Literary Analysis Topics: Explore Different Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in Literature

Literary Analysis Topics: Explore Different Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in Literature

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Welcome to our comprehensive guide on literary analysis! In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of literature and offer you some valuable insights into the various themes, symbols, and motifs that can be found in different works. Whether you’re a college student taking a literature course or simply a fan of thought-provoking essays, we have something special in store for you!

So, what is literary analysis all about? Put simply, it’s an academic discipline that focuses on examining and interpreting the written works of authors. It involves critically analyzing various aspects of literature, such as the characters, themes, symbols, and narrative devices employed by the writers. Through careful examination and comparison, literary analysis helps us understand the deeper meanings and messages conveyed through a particular piece of writing.



In this article, we will explore a wide range of topics that you can select for your own literary analysis essays. From analyzing the theme of tradition in local literature to comparing the symbols used in two different works of fiction, we offer you a plethora of captivating topics to choose from. You’ll also find sample essays and examples to help you better understand the analysis process and develop your own unique thesis statements.

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced student of literature, this guide is here to help you. We believe that anyone can be a literary critic with a little bit of guidance and practice. So, if you’re looking for the best source of information to help you write your literary analysis essay, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s embark on this exciting journey through the world of literature together!

51 Literary Criticism Essay Topic Ideas Examples

1. Analyze the use of symbolism in a specific work of literature.

  • 2. Explore the themes of feminism and women’s roles in literature.
  • 3. Compare and contrast two characters in a novel.
  • 4. Examine the influence of a particular historical event on the works of an author.
  • 5. Discuss the similarities and differences between two works by the same author.
  • 6. Analyze the use of literary devices in a poem.
  • 7. Explore the theme of love and its portrayal in different literary works.
  • 8. Discuss the role of the narrator in a novel.
  • 9. Examine the use of irony in a short story.
  • 10. Analyze the impact of setting on the overall meaning of a play.
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11. Discuss the portrayal of morality in a specific piece of literature.

  • 12. Examine the use of foreshadowing in a novel.
  • 13. Compare and contrast the themes of good and evil in two different works.
  • 14. Analyze the representation of a particular social issue in literature.
  • 15. Discuss the role of the antagonist in a play.
  • 16. Examine the use of imagery in a poem.
  • 17. Explore the theme of identity in a novel.
  • 18. Discuss the impact of the setting on the mood of a story.
  • 19. Analyze the use of dialogue in a play.
  • 20. Compare and contrast the writing styles of two different authors.

21. Discuss the portrayal of mental illness in a specific work of literature.

  • 22. Examine the use of motifs in a novel.
  • 23. Analyze the role of the protagonist in a play.
  • 24. Discuss the theme of justice in a specific piece of literature.
  • 25. Compare and contrast the themes of freedom and oppression in two works.
  • 26. Analyze the use of suspense in a short story.
  • 27. Explore the theme of betrayal in a play.
  • 28. Discuss the impact of the author’s background on their writing.
  • 29. Examine the use of allusions in a poem.
  • 30. Compare and contrast the themes of love and friendship in two different novels.

31. Analyze the representation of war in a specific work of literature.

  • 32. Discuss the role of fate in a play.
  • 33. Examine the use of irony in a novel.
  • 34. Compare and contrast the themes of hope and despair in two works.
  • 35. Analyze the use of metaphors in a poem.
  • 36. Explore the theme of social class in a novel.
  • 37. Discuss the impact of the author’s writing style on the meaning of their work.
  • 38. Examine the use of suspense in a play.
  • 39. Compare and contrast the themes of truth and deception in two different works.
  • 40. Analyze the portrayal of family dynamics in a specific piece of literature.

41. Discuss the role of nature in a novel.

  • 42. Examine the use of symbols in a poem.
  • 43. Analyze the representation of power and corruption in a play.
  • 44. Discuss the theme of isolation in a specific work of literature.
  • 45. Compare and contrast the themes of faith and doubt in two works.
  • 46. Analyze the use of repetition in a poem.
  • 47. Explore the theme of ambition in a novel.
  • 48. Discuss the impact of the author’s tone on the reader’s interpretation of the work.
  • 49. Examine the use of dramatic irony in a play.
  • 50. Compare and contrast the themes of reality and illusion in two different works.
  • 51. Analyze the portrayal of friendship in a specific piece of literature.

Remember, these are just a few examples of the many literary criticism essay topics you can choose from. You can also tailor these ideas to fit the specific works you’re writing about. Good luck with your literary analysis essays!

Writing About Literature: Ten Sample Topics for Comparison Contrast Essays

1. A Comparison of the Theme of Love in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and Sonnet 130

Compare and contrast how the theme of love is characterized in two of Shakespeare’s sonnets, exploring both the similarities and differences in their portrayal of affection and beauty.



2. Comparing the Roles of Women in Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre

Analyze and contrast the different representations of women in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, discussing how their respective characters challenge societal expectations.

3. The Contrast of Good versus Evil in Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein

Examine the theme of good versus evil in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, discussing how the authors utilize Gothic elements to depict the battle between these opposing forces.

4. A Comparative Study of Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter and The Great Gatsby

Compare and contrast the symbolic representations used in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, analyzing how these symbols contribute to the overall meaning of each novel.



5. The Portrayal of Social Class in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Discuss and analyze how social class is depicted in two classic works of fiction, Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, exploring the contrasting views on social hierarchy.

6. A Comparison of the Use of Setting in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights

Examine and contrast how the authors employ setting in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights to enhance the atmosphere and contribute to the overall mood of the stories.

7. The Contrast of Traditional and Modern Values in George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

Compare and contrast how George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World critique and comment on the clash between traditional values and the advancements of modern society.

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8. Comparing the Use of Foreshadowing in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”

Analyze and discuss how Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” employ foreshadowing as a narrative device to create suspense and develop their respective plots.

9. The Contrast of Past and Present in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

Examine the theme of the past versus the present in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, discussing how the authors explore the effects of memory and nostalgia on their respective dystopian societies.

10. A Comparative Analysis of War Themes in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22

Compare and contrast how Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 portray the theme of war, discussing their differing perspectives on the impact of conflict on individuals.

These ten sample topics offer a good starting point for your comparison contrast essays on literature. Remember to provide specific examples and evidence from the texts to support your thesis. If you’re looking for further guidance, resources such as the Purdue OWL’s literary analysis and criticism section can help you refine your writing skills and deepen your understanding of the literary devices employed in literature.

Captivating Literary Essay Topics for College Rookies

Before diving into the topics, it’s important to understand what a literary essay should be about. In this type of essay, you’ll analyze a specific theme, character, or device employed by the author to convey a particular message or idea. Literary essays are not just summaries; they require a close reading of the text and an exploration of the author’s techniques and intentions.

TopicDescription
1. Symbolism in “The Great Gatsby”Explore the use of symbols, such as the green light, the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, and the Valley of Ashes, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel.
2. Theme of Women’s Rights in “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “A Room of One’s Own”Compare and contrast the ways in which Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Virginia Woolf portray the struggle for women’s rights in their works.
3. The Similarity Between “1984” and “Brave New World”Analyze the similarities between George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” in terms of their dystopian societies and their critiques of totalitarianism.
4. The Use of Foreshadowing in “Macbeth”Examine how William Shakespeare uses foreshadowing throughout “Macbeth” to create tension and suspense.
5. The Role of the “Tragic Hero” in Greek TragediesDiscuss the characteristics of a “tragic hero” and analyze how characters like Oedipus and Antigone fit this archetype in Greek tragedies.
6. The Theme of Identity in “Invisible Man”Explore the theme of identity in Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” and how it relates to race and social invisibility.
7. The Symbolism of the Mockingbird in “To Kill a Mockingbird”Analyze the symbolic meaning of the mockingbird in Harper Lee’s novel and how it represents innocence and injustice.
8. The Role of the Ghost in “Hamlet”Discuss the significance of the ghost in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and how it influences the actions and decisions of the main character.
9. The Use of Magical Realism in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s WorksExamine the use of magical realism in Marquez’s novels, such as “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” and how it adds depth and richness to the storytelling.
10. The Theme of Fate in “Romeo and Juliet”Explore the role of fate in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy and discuss how it drives the actions and outcomes of the characters.

These are just a few examples of captivating literary essay topics that can help you get started with your analysis and research. Remember to develop a clear thesis statement and support it with evidence from the text. For more ideas or specific guidance on writing literary essays, you can always consult resources like the Purdue Owl or seek custom academic help. Happy writing and good luck with your literary analysis!

Selecting topics for literary analysis

One way to help you select a good topic is to look for similarities or contrasts between different works of literature. For example, you could compare the theme of women’s rights in Jane Austen’s novels to the theme of gender roles in Thomas Hardy’s works. This would allow you to delve into the depiction of women and their struggles in different time periods and social contexts.

Another way to find a captivating topic is to analyze the specific literary devices employed by an author. For example, you could write an essay analyzing the use of symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” and how it contributes to the overall theme of sin and redemption.

In addition to choosing a specific theme or literary device to analyze, you can also explore different types of literary criticism in your paper. For instance, you could write about the psychoanalytic interpretation of a character’s actions or the postcolonial reading of a particular novel.

Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers a great resource for topic ideas and research guidance. They provide a list of literary analysis topics, as well as sample papers to help you understand how to write an effective literary analysis essay. The source also includes custom essay writing services for those who need additional assistance.

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How to Write a Literary Analysis: What Should Be Included in the Analysis?

2. Thesis Statement: Clearly state your thesis, which should highlight the main theme or argument you will be exploring in your analysis.

3. Literary Devices: Identify and analyze the literary devices employed by the author, such as symbolism, imagery, foreshadowing, or irony. Use specific examples from the text to support your analysis.

4. Character Analysis: Analyze and characterize the main characters in the literary work. Discuss their motivations, conflicts, and development throughout the story.

5. Theme Analysis: Explore the central themes in the work of literature and discuss how they contribute to the overall meaning and message of the text.

6. Symbolism and Motifs: Identify and analyze any symbols or motifs that appear throughout the text. Explain their significance and how they enhance the reader’s understanding of the story.

7. Comparison and Contrast: Compare and contrast different elements of the literary work, such as characters, settings, or themes, to draw out deeper insights and connections.

8. Historical and Cultural Context: Consider the historical and cultural context in which the literary work was written. Discuss any relevant social or political events that may have influenced the author’s perspective.

Remember, a good literary analysis should offer a unique perspective on the chosen work and provide captivating ideas and insights. It should be supported by thorough research and analysis of the text, and should effectively use examples and evidence to support its claims.

Good Research Topics about Literary Criticism

1. The Role of Women in Thomas Hardy’s Works

In this topic, you can analyze how women are portrayed in the works of Thomas Hardy and how their characterization contributes to the themes and symbols in his fiction.

2. A Comparison of Literary Devices in Shakespeare’s Tragedies and Comedies

By comparing the different literary devices employed in Shakespeare’s tragedies and comedies, you can offer a detailed analysis of how these devices work to characterize the themes in each genre.

3. The Use of Symbolism in the Novels of Edgar Allan Poe

By examining several of Edgar Allan Poe’s works, you can analyze the specific symbols employed by the author and explore their significance in relation to the themes of his stories and poems.

4. The Similarity and Contrast between Greek Tragedy and Shakespearean Tragedy

In this topic, you can explore the similarities and differences between Greek tragedy and Shakespearean tragedy in terms of their themes, characterizations, and the overall structure of the plays.

5. The Theme of Worn Out Tradition in Modern American Literature

This topic allows you to analyze how the theme of worn-out tradition is depicted in modern American literature, focusing on specific works that deal with this theme and discussing their significance.

6. The Influence of Local Culture on the Works of a Specific Author

By focusing on a particular author, you can examine how their local culture has influenced their writing, analyzing examples from their works to support your thesis.

7. Writing Style and Social Critique in George Orwell’s Novels

In this topic, you can explore how George Orwell’s writing style contributes to his social critique, analyzing specific examples from his novels to support your argument.

8. The Use and Function of Mythology in Contemporary Fiction

By examining various contemporary works of fiction, you can analyze the use of mythology and its function in shaping the themes and symbols in these novels.

9. The Role of Satire in Jonathan Swift’s Essays

In this topic, you can analyze how Jonathan Swift uses satire in his essays to critique social and political issues of his time, offering examples from his works to illustrate his satirical techniques.

10. The Representation of War in the Rookies vs. Veterans Theme

By analyzing the representation of war in literature, specifically focusing on the rookies vs. veterans theme, you can explore how this theme is depicted in different works of fiction and discuss its significance.

🏆 Best Literary Criticism Topic Ideas Essay Examples

1. The Use of Symbolism in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

  • Examine the different symbols employed in the novel and their significance.
  • Explore how symbolism enhances the overall theme of racial injustice.

2. A Comparative Analysis of “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

  • Analyze the similarities and differences between the two novels in terms of themes and literary devices.
  • Discuss how the authors’ writing styles contribute to the overall tone of each work.

3. Gender Roles and Femininity in the Works of Virginia Woolf

  • Examine how women are portrayed in Woolf’s novels and their roles within society.
  • Discuss the impact of Woolf’s feminist perspective on her readers.

4. The Theme of Alienation in “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka

  • Analyze the theme of alienation and its significance in the novella.
  • Discuss how the character of Gregor Samsa represents this theme.

5. The Role of Mythology in “Beloved” by Toni Morrison

  • Explore the use of mythology and folklore in the novel.
  • Discuss how these elements contribute to the overall message and meaning of the work.

6. The Symbolism of the Owl in “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe

  • Discuss the symbolic significance of the owl in the story.
  • Analyze how the owl adds to the overall mood and theme of the tale.

7. A Comparison of “1984” by George Orwell and “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

  • Examine the dystopian societies portrayed in the novels.
  • Discuss the similar and contrasting themes present in both works.

8. The Role of Foreshadowing in William Shakespeare’s Tragedies

  • Analyze how foreshadowing is used to create suspense and dramatic tension.
  • Discuss the impact of foreshadowing on the audience’s understanding of the play.

9. The Theme of Identity in “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd

  • Explore how the characters in the novel grapple with their identities.
  • Analyze the role of race and gender in shaping their sense of self.

10. The Use of Magical Realism in the Stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

  • Analyze how Marquez incorporates magical realism into his narratives.
  • Discuss the impact of this literary technique on the reader’s interpretation of the stories.

FAQ

What is literary analysis?

Literary analysis is the examination and interpretation of various elements in a work of literature, such as themes, symbols, motifs, and literary devices. It involves analyzing the text in detail and providing an in-depth understanding of the author’s purpose and message.

What should be included in a literary analysis?

A literary analysis should include an introduction that provides background information and a thesis statement, body paragraphs that analyze different aspects of the text, and a conclusion that summarizes the main points and reinforces the thesis. It should also provide evidence from the text, such as quotes or examples, to support the analysis.

How do I write a literary analysis?

To write a literary analysis, you should start by reading the text carefully and taking notes on key themes, symbols, and motifs. Then, you should develop a thesis statement that presents your analysis and main argument. In the body paragraphs, you should provide evidence and analysis to support your thesis. Finally, you should conclude by summarizing your analysis and highlighting its significance.

What are some good research topics about literary criticism?

Some good research topics about literary criticism include the influence of feminism on literature, the portrayal of social class in novels, the use of symbolism in poetry, the impact of postcolonial theory on literary analysis, and the role of race in literature. These topics provide ample opportunities for in-depth research and analysis.

What are some interesting topics to write about in literary criticism?

Some interesting topics to write about in literary criticism include the exploration of magical realism in literature, the analysis of unreliable narrators in novels, the examination of dystopian elements in science fiction, the study of mythical and archetypal themes in poetry, and the critique of colonialism and imperialism in literary works. These topics offer unique perspectives and thought-provoking discussions.

What is literary analysis?

Literary analysis is the examination and interpretation of a piece of literature, such as a novel, play, or poem. It involves analyzing various elements of the text, including themes, symbols, motifs, and character development, to gain a deeper understanding of the work’s meaning and impact.

What should be included in a literary analysis?

A literary analysis should include an introduction that provides background information on the text and author, a thesis statement that presents the main argument or analysis, body paragraphs that support the thesis with evidence and analysis, and a conclusion that sums up the main points and reflects on the significance of the analysis.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.