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How to Write an Analytical Essay

There are some essay assignments that come fairly easily. As long as you grasp the subject matter, you can jump in and get started. However, if you are writing an analytical essay, you will quickly find that this isn’t the case. This assignment requires that you do quite a bit of research and put a lot of thought into your essay.

To first learn how to write an analytical essay, you must know what it is. Basically, it is an exploration or in-depth analysis of a topic. That topic could be a written work, movie, or artwork. It can also be a concept. For example, the topic, ‘trying juveniles as adults’ could be the subject of an analytical essay.

Tip 1: Conduct Analysis Not Just Research

While you certainly have to conduct research to formulate and then support your thesis, an analytical essay is not a research essay. You aren’t simply collecting and presenting information. Instead, you are using research to gather that data to gain insights from digging beneath the surface and gaining a deeper understanding of your topic.

Ultimately the purpose of an analytical essay is to make a claim about the subject you are analyzing. This is what will ultimately become your thesis statement. Of course, there are a lot of steps to take before you get to that point.

Tip 2: Analytical Essay Topic Selection is a Key First Step

Virtually anything can be analyzed. However, your essay topic should meet the following criteria:

How to Select The Best Topic

  • Approved by your instructor or TA

  • Relevant to what you are studying

  • At your academic level

  • Interesting to you (if possible)

  • Complex enough to write an analysis

For this guide, let’s say you are taking a class on script writing for television. You decide to do an analysis on character development in the show friends.

Tip 3: Research And Composing Your Thesis to Build a Strong Essay

It’s a bit much to write an entire essay on every character in an ensemble show. So, you decide to narrow things down. Before you can do that, you must do some research. In this case, you watch episodes and download and read copies of ‘Friends’ scripts. Finally, you decide to do a character analysis of the characters Ross and Joey.

How to Research And Analyze

Now is the time to dig even deeper into these characters. Your job is to study and analyze how they are written, read the dialogue they are given, and study the characters’ reactions to similar situations.

As you research, you want to begin writing down things that stand out to you. If you were analyzing the topic of trying children as adults, you might notice that  poor children are more likely to be charged as adults than children from wealthy families.

In this case, let’s say that your analysis shows that in spite of appearing to be a bit of dope and womanizer, a closer look at the character Joey reveals a genuinely nice person. On the other hand, while Ross initially seems to be the nicer character

How to Turn Your Research And Conclusion Into a Thesis Statement

Now, turn that claim into a thesis statement and you are on your way to learning to write an analytical essay. For example, ‘The character Joey embodies the characteristics of an honorable person much more so than the character, Ross.’

Tip 4: Creating Your Outline to Support Your Essay

You have your thesis. Now it’s time to create your outline from your research. Your introduction should contain a hook, your thesis statement, and what readers should expect in the following paragraphs. For example:

  1. Introduction

    1. Friends viewers have been fooled for years. Ross isn’t the sensitive, feminist academic. Joey isn’t the sex-obsessed lug.

    2. A look at the characters proves that  Joey is much more honorable than Ross.

    3. One only needs to look at both characters’ treatment of women to see the truth.

Once the intro is laid out, you’ll want to add your body paragraphs to the outline. These should contain the main idea sentence supporting your thesis. Then, these sentences should be followed by even more supportive ideas.

  1. Body Paragraph 1

    1. Joey is capable of having genuine friendships with women and Ross is not

      1. Ross is never able to treat Rachel as a friend

      2. He behaves condescendingly towards Phoebe

      3. Joey converses with all of the female characters as his equal

      4. His approach to Rachel is to treat her as a friend, not a potential love interest.

Finally, your conclusion should summarize your thesis. Then, it should show how all of your points together prove your thesis. Think in terms of building a case rather than restating your points.

Tip 5: Writing Your Rough Draft is a Key Development Step

At this point, you will have put a lot of hard work into research, topic selection, more research, creating a thesis, and developing your outline. Now, there is some good news! It gets much easier from here. That strong outline you just created is easy to turn into a rough draft. Just turn those brief statements into sentences. Add some good transitions. Don’t forget to use examples to drive your points home. For the intro, get a bit clever. For the conclusion,  really drive your point home.

Conclusion: Polishing The Final Product

Turning your rough draft into a final draft is a matter of completing a few steps. First, make sure you get rid of any spelling and grammar errors. Then double check for weak writing. Look for adverbs. Those tend to weaken your prose. Replace complex sentences with simple ones. Avoid using big words and jargon. Once these tasks are complete, your analytical essay should be ready to go.