Tips on How To Write an Essay on American Literature

By: Rafal Reyzer
Updated: Oct 5th, 2023

Tips on How To Write an Essay on American Literature - featured image

For literature enthusiasts, discerning Steinbeck from Faulkner might be a breeze.

But if you’re scratching your head at those names, you’re not alone. Regardless, a day might come when you’re tasked with penning an essay on American classical literature. And trust us, you’ll be grateful for this handy guide. Beyond mere names, let’s dive into what writing an English literature essay truly entails. Your assignment? Dive deep into American classics, extracting insights and conveying them compellingly. A literary analysis essay for The Great Gatsby, for instance, isn’t just a review—it’s an exploration, demanding thorough understanding and sharp critical thinking. Ready to embark? Let’s get started!

Top tips on how to write an essay on American literature

Your advisor and you both recognize the significance of this academic task. That’s why it’s so important to have a firm grasp on what a well-written American classical literature essay looks like, or more precisely, what key components it needs to have. This way, you’ll know exactly where to go before you even begin making all the preparations. To sum up, here are the essentials of a great literary essay:

1. Use Excellent English (Style, Grammar, Punctuation)

Showcase your finest mastery of the English language and spend as much time as you need to polish your work before submitting it; your professor will first evaluate your linguistic proficiency. Preparing for a classical literature essay may cause you to memorize a wide vocabulary of specialized terms. However, you should fully understand their meaning in your essay before using them. Any online dictionary can be helpful at this point. When composing an essay, a thesaurus is yet another helpful resource. If you search for a word in a thesaurus, it will provide you with a list of other terms that have the same or similar meanings. Including this can give your essay more depth and make your points more convincing.

2. Look Out for Themes and Symbols

Looking for themes and symbols is vital when writing an essay. Using themes and symbols is ubiquitous in the literature. The message that a work wants to convey about a certain subject is what we call its theme. This idea that betrayal leads only to loss is central to William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” for instance. As a result, betrayal is the central theme, with inevitably, the treacherous will eventually be betrayed. In contrast, a symbol is anything; an object, an action, an event—that stands in for something else. In “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the green light represents a goal that is out of reach. Consider the underlying meanings conveyed by the words you’ve written. What does it imply about you, about other individuals, or the world?

3. Choose a Work of American Literature That Speaks to You

Sometimes in class, your instructor will assign you to write an essay about a piece of literature of your choosing. In other cases, though, you may select from a pre-approved list of works or select one of your own. Pick a piece that strikes a chord with you. Select one that appeals to your interests, passions, and preferences and one that results in an emotional response. If you are invested in the material, you are more likely to develop a strong thesis for your paper and produce quality writing. In contrast, if you pick a piece that doesn’t interest you or that confuses or repels you, writing it will be a chore.

4. Make Your Points as Convincing as Possible

Always strive to persuade rather than merely inform. Many students make the mistake of thinking that any argument is fine in an essay on a literary work because of the inherent subjectivity of the topic. Unfortunately, this idea can lead to student writing that lacks depth, is muddled, unrealistic, or fails to convince. If a pupil reads a poem literally, they might come up with a completely unbelievable interpretation. Remember that the quality of your evidence and your argument determine the strength of your thesis. When writing an essay about a literary work, it is important to back up your views with evidence and valid arguments.

5. Use Precise Citations

If you’re going to use someone else’s words, research, or data in your essay, you need to give them credit. If you don’t, your work will be deemed as plagiarized and you won’t get credit for it, and that’s the best-case situation. Because it’s crucial that you know what standard of essay writing is expected of you, all these factors are discussed before moving on to particular writing techniques. Now, if you keep these standards in mind when working on the assignment, your teachers will have fewer edits and comments.

Different Topics You Should Think About

It’s easy to come up with a topic to write about in literature, as everyone has at least one favorite book, whether it be a novel, short story, or poetry. The challenge arises when trying to plan the topic, which needs to be both wide enough to be covered in an essay and limited enough to reveal the subject within the prescribed word limit. Instead of giving you topic examples, we’ve compiled a list of points that can serve as guides as you work to come up with a name for your academic assignment; you can choose to analyze any of these aspects in the context of any narrative or lyric. Every student has to write an essay in their academic career, and many of these essays will be on classic literature. You will probably be expected to read a piece of literature and write an essay about it in your academic career, whether you are in high school or college. Novels, short tales, and plays, for instance, are common requirements for English language courses. Meanwhile, essays like research papers, reaction papers, literary analysis papers, and reflective essays are frequently created for these types of classes. The above are a few recommendations that might be included. Use these suggestions to write a great essay. Next up, you may want to explore a list of magazines and websites that publish personal essays.

Rafal Reyzer

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time blogger, educator, digital marketer, freelance writer, editor, and content manager with 10+ years of experience. I started RafalReyzer.com to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to become a proficient writer and achieve freedom through online creativity. My site is a one-stop shop for writers, digital marketers, and content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money, and create beautiful things. Dive into my journey here, and don't miss out on my free PDF guide 80+ AI marketing tools.