A literary work of art is a kind of art in the narrow sense of the term, acting as a form of social consciousness. As well as all art in general, a work of art is represented by the expression of a certain emotional and mental content, a certain ideological and emotional complex in a figurative, aesthetically significant form. A work of art is a “word about the world” created by the writer, the author, an act of reaction of an artistically gifted person to the surrounding reality.

In accordance with the theory of reflection, human thinking is a reflection of reality, the objective world, which undoubtedly applies to artistic thinking. A literary work, like art in general, acts as a particular case of a subjective reflection of objective reality. However, the reflection, especially in the highest stage of its development (human thinking), should not be defined as a mechanical reflection, mirror, or a copy of reality.

The complex, indirect character of reflection is most likely to have an influence on artistic thinking, in which the subjective moment is important, the unique personality of the author, his or her original view of the world and the way of thinking about it. The artwork is a reflection of an active, personal reproduction of life reality and its creative transformation. In addition, the author never reproduces reality only for the purpose of reproduction; the very desire for the creative reproduction of reality is formed from the author’s personal and not indifferent position about the world. It must be emphasized that the artistic work acts as an indissoluble unity of objective and subjective, reproduction of reality and the author's position.

Understanding the unity of the objective image and subjective expression in a work of art should also be methodologically applied in order to perform practical tasks of analytical work with a work of art. As a rule, in the study of literature, more attention is focused on the objective side, impoverishing the idea of a work of art. In addition, there is a kind of substitution of the subject of research: instead of studying a work of art with aesthetic patterns characteristics, the reality reflected in the work is studied, which is also interesting and significant but not connected with the study of literature as an art form. The methodological setting aimed at studying, as a rule, the objective side of a work of art reduces the role of art as an independent type of spiritual activity of people, leading to the ideas of the illustrative nature of literature. In such a situation, a work of art largely loses its lively emotional content and passion associated with the subjectivity of the author.

What Is the Literary Analysis

It is clear that a conversation about literature can turn into a conversation about life, in which nothing unnatural or fundamentally untenable is observed since there is no wall between literature and life. However, in such a situation, the methodological setting, which does not allow one to forget about the aesthetic features of literature, reducing literature and its role to an illustrative meaning, is critical. An analysis of a literary work includes determining the topic of reading, understanding the position of the author, and identifying the idea of a work of art. Thoughtful reading is dialogical because it is presented in the form of an author’s conversation with the reader. You must learn to see the dialogue in the artwork and engage in dialogue with the author. There are several most effective techniques for analyzing an artwork online.

  • Hypothesizing and searching for an answer to a problem question to the text;
  • discussion of some statements and questions;
  • the wording of questions;
  • a dispute with the author and opponents;
  • text transformation;
  • the modification of the plot.

It is clear that to apply certain techniques of analyzing, a literary text must be selective, given the genre and content of the work. The list of methods of comprehending the reading gives you the opportunity to talk about the most crucial requirements for the analysis of a work of art. It includes such aspects as:

  • imagery;
  • ideological;
  • completeness.

The Main Components of Literary Analysis

The imagery of the analysis requires the connection between the plot and the system of images of the work. “How did the events described in the story influence the character of the protagonist?” The analysis’s ideology acts as a connection between the work and life, coming up with the idea of writing. “What was the author about to tell?” The completeness of the analysis consists in the mandatory completion of the synthesis. “What have you learned from reading this work?”

The operational stage of the analysis contains a primary, detailed, introductory reading, studying either analytical reading, fast (viewing) reading, quoting, developing a plan, the wording of questions to the text. The stage of monitoring and evaluation is represented by a search reading, answers to questions posed, creative work and the definition of a personal attitude to the text.

Analyzing a literary work, students should always confirm their own point of view with words from the text. The analysis with the obligatory quotation improves both the ability to reflect on the book’s content and the skill of reading.

Types of Literary Analysis

There are the following types of artwork analysis:

  • problematic;
  • stylistic;
  • comparative.

In the first form, it is necessary to consider the plot and figurative sides of the work. The plot is the structure of the work, the sequence of events. Let us define the elements of the plot. They are the introduction, the development of the action, the climax, the denouement, and the ending. The introduction and ending include 2-3 sentences and do not contain any events. Their function is to motivate reading, grabing the attention of the audience. Working with the system of images, one should consider motives and actions of the character and function of the personage and the relationship with the other characters of the work in the totality of thoughts and feelings.

Problem analysis serves as a discussion on finding an answer to a problem question. It is necessary to formulate the problem and to ensure the existence of different points of view. The comparative analysis serves as an effective means of improving analytical skills. You can take works of different authors for comparison. An indispensable condition for the selection of texts for such a task is the existence of features of similarity of theme, feelings, moods, and meaning in them. Comparative analysis can be carried out on prose and poetry. The main goal of this activity is the search for differences in the unifying factor in the compared works based on the analysis. Usually, the overall ideological meaning of the works in question appears.

The goal of stylistic or language analysis is to identify the individual style of the author, which acts as a combination of means and techniques of artistic expression peculiar to the specified writer. Searching for visual means in a text is a difficult yet fascinating work, revealing the secrets of the author’s skills. The stylistic experiment is of particular interest here. It is a deliberate distortion of the text in order to reveal which tools the author used to form such a vivid image.

Analysis Methods

The most common method of analysis is to pose questions to the text. The questions allow students to clarify the facts of the work, to comprehend them from the standpoint of its ideological orientation, that is, to understand the causal relationships, the position of the author, to form their own attitude to the work. In the course of the search for answers to questions, each learner forms a personal idea of the meaning of the book. He or she shares this presentation with the rest of the readers, being a participant in the general dialogue.

The next stage of working with literary text, which consists of combining the students' first thoughts about the author’s idea with the results of the analysis, is represented by the stage of interpretation. The absolute dominant interpretation of the text is the interpretation of the artistic meaning of the work. In the course of analysis, understanding moves from the whole to the parts, and in the interpretation – from the parts to the whole. Interpretation is a creative, conscious desire of readers to determine the meaning of the work.

Interpretation of the Content

The main property of interpreting is openness. This feature is a reflection of the infinite multiplicity of meanings of the text and the fact that any artistic work needs creative reading and additions from the reader. However, not all interpretations are equivalent. The correct one is is the one based on a well-executed analysis of a literary text when all the explanations offered within it have a causal relationship.

It is pivotal that students not only master the artistic idea of the work being studied but also realize the way in which they have come to the goal. Constant attention to the carefully thought-out analysis and the most complete and correct interpretation contributes to the formation of a linguistic personality that has the individual author’s style of the researcher.

The List of Interesting Works for Literary Analysis

  • Iliad
  • Odyssey
  • Medea
  • Iphigenia in Aulis
  • The Song of Roland
  • Tristan and Iseult
  • The Divine Comedy (Dante)
  • Consuelo (Sand)
  • Notre Dame de Paris (Hugo)
  • The Red and The Black (Stendhal)
  • The Metamorphosis (Kafka)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (Remark)
  • Steppenwolf (Hesse)
  • The Threepenny Opera (Brecht)
  • Ulysses (Joyce)
  • Over the Abyss in Rye (Salinger)
  • The Martian Chronicles (Bradbury)
  • The Name of the Rose (Eco)