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Types of Outlines and Samples

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Alphanumeric Outlines

This is the most common type of outline and usually instantly recognizable to most people. The formatting follows these characters, in this order:

If the outline needs to subdivide beyond these divisions, use Arabic numerals inside parentheses and then lowercase letters inside parentheses. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

The sample PDF in the Media Box above is an example of an outline that a student might create before writing an essay. In order to organize her thoughts and make sure that she has not forgotten any key points that she wants to address, she creates the outline as a framework for her essay.

What is the assignment?

Your instructor asks the class to write an expository (explanatory) essay on the typical steps a high school student would follow in order to apply to college.

What is the purpose of this essay?

To explain the process for applying to college

Who is the intended audience for this essay?

High school students intending to apply to college and their parents

What is the essay's thesis statement?

When applying to college, a student follows a certain process which includes choosing the right schools and preparing the application materials.

Full Sentence Outlines

The full sentence outline format is essentially the same as the Alphanumeric outline. The main difference (as the title suggests) is that full sentences are required at each level of the outline. This outline is most often used when preparing a traditional essay. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

Decimal Outlines

The decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline. The added benefit is a system of decimal notation that clearly shows how every level of the outline relates to the larger whole. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.

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How To Write An Interpretive Essay That Is Great

how to write an interpretive essay

Have you ever stumbled upon an interpretive essay definition? In many cases, you may come across various essays that require interpretation to get to the bottom of what the author meant in the essay.

It is not complicated. In this article, you will learn how to write an interpretive essay, how to break down the segments, how to classify the elements, some interpretive essay examples, and how to wrap it up.

Additionally, we will provide a reliable outline and structure to follow. In any class essay your point of view matters! Your personal view will help you interpret the work well. As students, the main goal is to complete assignments in the right format. Let’s dive into it:

What Is An Interpretive Essay?

Have you ever written an interpretive essay?

Well, an interpretive essay is an analysis of some piece of writing. It means interpreting some other writer’s work. When writing an interpretive essay, it is important to come up with a unique way of integrating the literary work. Remember to give numerous kinds of reasons why you feel your interpretation is true.

For each reason that you provide, ensure it has a body division and provides a reason with a quote. It may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get used to it, it becomes easier

Also, the final draft of the work needs to have a great summary of the whole paper. This will make it amazing.

How To Write An Interpretive Essay

There is no specific strict format on how to write an interpretive essay, but it should follow a certain structure.

Like most essay, an ideal interpretive essay format should include an:

As the writer, you need to paraphrase and quote the literary work in the different essay sections. Try to understand the work like it’s your work. If you were the author, what were you trying to portray?

In addition, you are allowed to use references. This helps to provide a reasonable claim! Also, you need to add text citations and a full bibliography in any favorable format. Choose a format that your professor in college or teacher will prefer.

Interpretive Analysis Essay Example

If you want to succeed in writing an interpretive analysis, you need to follow the right procedure. You just need to be clear while interpreting the various elements in the essay.

This is one of the best interpretative essay example that will guide you on the way forward. If you want to succeed, check the various interpretative essay example to get a better glimpse.

1. Starting An Interpretive Essay

First, you will need to read and reread the text you have been given to interpret in the essay. This will enable you to highlight the important elements.

For example, if it’s a poem that talks about “Do not judge a book by its cover”. You need to interpret what is being said in the text. Is the main message to, “treat people equally no matter their appearance”?

2. Introduction

After you have indicated the important literary elements, write an introduction with the author’s name, the title of the literary work, and the elements. However, try to stick to the specific theme in question.

For example: “The poem’s main idea is treating everyone equally. However some critics think it is mainly based on being respectful to everyone, you never know who they are. However, John Thompson wrote the poem intending to make people more humane”.

3. Main Body

In these interpretive essays, organize the body paragraphs based on the order of the elements. Make sure to point out all the main keys in the poem, chapter, book, article or so on. It will make it easier for all the other readers who will stumble upon your work to understand easily.

4. Conclusion Of An Interpretive Essay

A conclusion is vital when finishing an interpretive essay. You should base it on the main literary elements.

For example, “Do not judge a book by its cover, it’s a vital aspect in today’s world. John Simpson brings to light the various ways people treat each other. However, it is ironic that to some extent in the poem, he approves of judging people according to some status. Additionally, he strongly nullifies just being inhumane to them. Hence, to make the world a better place, it is important to treat everyone equally regardless”.

What Is An Interpretation?

At times you may read a novel, article, poem, or short text and wonder what the author meant. You may want to know why the author wrote it. This is where an interpretive essay comes it. One of the best ways to go about it is to use the text as a guide.

In this, you examine the main elements of the story and try to relate. The first thing is to analyze while reading the text. To do this, spend some time getting to know what the author meant. Try to connect to the literature as much as possible.

While on this, you may get into an interpretive argument, not knowing whether your interpretation is right. You may also find that your interpretive claim is different from what the author meant. Hopefully you now have a better overview of what is an interpretation.

What Is An Interpretive Question?

An interpretative question has an answer that can be supported with some form of evidence. This is because there is some certain text for reference. To be able to answer the interpretative questions well, you need to prepare but be flexible in all you do. Try not to miss unexpected responses.

In interpretive questions consider asking honest questions. Another vital thing is to take a step at a time. This will help you to answer the interpretative questions well. Some of the questions might seem controversial but getting the answer is easy.

Hopefully you are now familiar with the guide to how to interpret. Take one example of an interpretation sample and see whether you can do it.

How Does One Interpret A Written Work?

To interpret a written work, you need to read it thoroughly, get the main points, then try to break down the elements into simpler forms. This will help you to get the major theme in question and interpret it perfectly.

Interpreting is a great way to clarify certain content and explain its meaning. In an interpretive essay, the student’s task is to analyze the assigned work and offer an explanation of all the components.

Some work may be critical but if you put your best foot forward you will succeed. Just be contemplative when reading the text, before answering the interpretive questions.

Interpretive Essay Sample

Sojourner Truth was a former slave turned abolitionist and women’s rights activist. After escaping slavery with her infant daughter in tow in 1826, Truth went to court to fight for her son’s freedom. She was the first black woman to win her child’s freedom in a case against a white slave owner. Truth is best known for her speech on gender inequalities titled “Ain’t I a Woman?” which she delivered at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851. In her momentous speech, Truth bemoans the treatment of women and, in particular, black women. She uses several rhetorical strategies to point out the irony of the fight for women’s rights as one that only white women can lay claim to. Truth uses her personal experiences as a woman and former slave to show that slaves aren’t granted their humanity, let alone their right to be treated as the “fairer” sex. Truth uses irony, imagery, syntax and juxtaposition to underlie her point about the inequalities that women and African Americans, in general, faced at the time (Mani 46). Truth’s speech begins as an address to a mostly younger crowd who may not have seen all that she has seen or experienced all that she has experienced. In opening with the words “well children,” Truth sets herself up as a wiser, older authority on the matters that she has come to speak about. She notices that with white women and black men all talking about equal rights, white men are going to be pretty busy. She doesn’t deny that their claims have legitimacy but simply says something akin to “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” (Schnall). It is hard not to notice the irony of this speech about white women’s rights and how they are to be treated. At this point in time, women had less education, less rights, and their worth was firmly fixed upon their being married to a man who could take care of them. The common-mode thinking was that white women were delicate, weaker and needed to be taken care of. When Truth discusses how white men feel that women are to be helped down from carriages and lifted over ditches, it is hard to miss the irony. At this time, white women were fighting for equal status to men, meaning they wanted men to understand that they could do things for themselves. And yet, black women had never been treated delicately and would envy the position that a white woman was squirming to get away from. In other words, Truth seems to be saying that being treated like a man is not all it’s cracked up to be if you are a woman who has never been treated like a delicate flower (Schnall). Truth uses imagery and strong word choice to bring her point across. One instance where this is especially salient is when she says: “And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman?” Immediately, the audience gets an image of a black woman working the fields as hard as any man. She is scarred and filthy and sweaty. This image juxtaposed against the image of a white woman in a pretty dress and big hat being lifted over a ditch is particularly strong. The image of a black woman covered in filth whose skin is tar-colored from working out in the sun is hard to shake (Schnall). What are white women complaining about? Truth seems to be asking. Being treated like a delicate flower as opposed to being treated like a man is a good racket. And yet, Truth understands the fight for equal rights indelibly because she is a former slave who gave birth to thirteen children and had almost all of them wrestled away from her and sold into slavery. As a black woman who could never hope for treatment equal to a white woman, she understands that their fight for equal rights for women will leave black women in the dust. Truth ends her speech by pointing out that Jesus Christ was a man that came from God and a woman and Eve was a woman who changed the trajectory of human history almost single-handedly. She supports white women’s fight for equal rights but urges that they not forget black women (Mani 46; Schnall).

Here Are Some Examples Of Interpretive Questions

Still Confused About Your Interpretive Essay?

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How to write an interpretive essay

interpretive essay outline example

Whether you have been asked to write an interpretative paper on art piece or art, or write a response essay on the a given topic, this guide will help you write a perfect paper that will amaze your lecturer or teacher.

Should you have further questions or need help writing this kind of paper, feel free to ask a question .

Now let’s look at how you write a good college interpretive paper – response or analytical.

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Non fiction analytical essay, analytical essay topics, how to write an analytical essay outline, analytical essay examples, poetry explication essay.

Assignments in writing this kind of paper can come in many forms including: “analytical interpretive essay”, “interpretive analysis essay”, or “interpretive response essay”

What is an interpretive essay?

An interpretive essay is a form of writing in which the writer attempts to interpret or analyze a work of art. In this kind of essay, you will often be asked to provide your opinion on the meaning behind the subject matter. When writing interpretive essays, use good grammar and strong vocabulary to show that you are not simply describing something, but instead interpreting it thoroughly.

You will generally be required to describe a work of art in depth and then state your opinion on its meaning. An interpretive essay may only discuss one work or it could discuss many works, such as several pieces of artwork that relate together. Some instructors require you to write an interpretive essay about the symbolism contained within Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 or to interpret the meaning behind an artist’s artwork.

To start writing an interpretive essay, pick a work of art that is interesting to you and will grab your reader’s interest as well. Be sure to include the basic information about the subject matter in your first paragraph so that the reader has some background about what she is reading. Be sure to discuss the work thoroughly, you have to analyze it and then interpret its meaning.

‘Interpretive essay’ is a relatively broad term, so your instructor may ask you to write about something different than what has been said here. If that’s the case, follow your teacher’s instructions carefully for your grade depends on them.

If you attend a community college or other type of school where you are being taught in English as a second language, you may be required to submit an interpretive essay with your writing assignment. In such cases, it is advisable that you seek the advice of your instructor before preparing and submitting yours.

Structure of an Analytical interpretive essay

Depending on the subject matter of your interpretive essay, how you write it will vary but the structure remains similar to writing an academic essay of any kind. There are several different words used to describe the structure of an interpretive essay; however, they all follow a similar form:

A typical outline for writing an interpretive essay includes these elements: Write a strong introduction that contains your thesis statement and grabs the reader’s interest.

Write body paragraphs that discuss the subject matter, using specific examples to support your position. Your first paragraph should contain a strong topic sentence and several supporting details about the work of art you are analyzing. The rest of your paragraphs should also provide a thorough analysis, but they can be shorter than your first one.

The purpose of your conclusion is to restate your thesis statement and provide it with more detail or explanation. It can be longer than the body paragraphs, but should still be relatively short because you don’t want it to take away from the discussion that took place in the body paragraphs.

As you write an interpretive essay, make sure you include plenty of strong supporting details to backup your visual analysis . This shows the reader that you not only know about the subject matter, but you can analyze it as well.

Tips for writing an interpretive essay

When writing a thesis statement for an interpretive essay, concentrate on analyzing and interpreting the subject matter rather than simply describing it. Using strong vocabulary will help you to come across as a more intelligent writer, and it also allows your reader to understand what you are trying to convey.

If the interpretation that you present in your essay is not credible, then it doesn’t matter how well-written or organized your paper is because no one will take any of it seriously. Don’t try to interpret something that isn’t already there, and make sure your interpretation is plausible. Be sure to cite the evidence for your claims so that your reader knows where you obtained it from.

Be familiar with the subject matter of an interpretive essay before composing one on it. If you don’t know what you are talking about or if you present a weak argument, then it doesn’t matter how well you write it or organize it; your poor overall analysis will carry the paper.

If you are attending a school where English is not your native language, you may want to have someone read and edit your interpretive essay before submitting it to your teacher. Your instructor is likely to be well-versed in the proper use of English grammar, but that doesn’t mean your paper will reflect that knowledge if it hasn’t been read and edited by someone with a better understanding than you currently have.

Summary: interpretive paper writing

An interpretive essay requires a student to analyze an idea or subject matter and then provide a detailed interpretation of it. This type of paper is typically used to evaluate literature, music, or painting; however, it can also be written about other subject matter.

It is important that you consult with your instructor before submitting an interpretive essay because he may require a specific format for this type of assignment. To analyze an idea or subject matter and then provide a detailed interpretation of it.

Art interpretation essay example

An art interpretation essay tries to understand the meaning behind an image, which can be a picture or sculpture. It is usually used as an English assignment.

An art interpretation essay is a paper that examines the meanings and elements present in a piece of artwork. It is most often used in high school English courses as writing assignments; however, they are sometimes also found on standardized tests such as the SAT, GRE, and GMAT exam.

They typically consist of one page with at least one paragraph that discusses all of these components:

1) The work’s themes (i.e., its message),

2) The work’s form (i.e., what it physically looks like),

3) Close reading of specific sections within the work (if applicable),

4) Other works of art that relate to the work in question.

An art interpretation paper may also require a title and a bibliography .

When instructors request an art interpretation essay, they are typically looking for students to express their opinions or feelings about the piece instead of simply listing facts like when it was created, who made it, etc.

This is not to say that facts should be avoided; however, factual information is typically used to support the writer’s interpretation of the work. It may also be required that an art interpretation essay highlight a certain aspect of a work, such as its religious or political significance.

Art interpretation essay format

Writing an art interpretation essay requires a specific format when it comes to the actual paper. The layout of an art interpretation essay usually consists of a title page, abstract, body content, and a works cited or bibliography page.

The term “body content” simply refers to the steps mentioned above:

1) The work’s themes (if applicable),

2) The work’s form,

These four components may be written about separately; however, it is more common for them to be incorporated into a single paragraph or even spread out across two paragraphs.

It is important not to simply list facts when writing an art interpretation essay. To do so would be to take on the role of a historian, which is not required when writing this paper.

It is also important to remember that you will not always need to cover all four components when completing an art interpretation essay .

Art interpretation essay examples:

This is a sample essay written by a student on the works of Emily Dickinson. Since, this sample

Example #1: Interpretive analysis essay example

Emily Dickinson’s poetry is often strange and unlike any of her contemporaries. One of her most famous poems, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” depicts a scene that could have been written by Poe or Kafka. In it, a woman is driving in her carriage when she sees Death approaching on foot. She stops the carriage and asks Death to ride with her, but Death refuses. Death replies that he has no business in the carriage because she is not dying. Reconsidering, the woman decides she is willing to die if it means riding with Death; however, again Death denies her offer and returns to his pursuit of another individual. In a sudden fit of desperation, she cries out, “Stop, and I will go with thee!” (l. 5), but it is too late; Death has already passed her by. She cries out in despair as she watches him proceed on to his next victim: “And out of the carriage window / I watched him…and saw him / Pass on” (ll. 9-12). Throughout the poem, Dickinson’s imagery portrays Death as a constant pursuer of human beings. Even while seated inside her carriage, the woman knows that Death is out there waiting for her. She cannot escape him; therefore, she simply wants to spend as much time with him before he takes her away from Earth.

Although it was written by one of America’s greatest female poets, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” was initially criticized by critics of the time who felt it was too morbid and macabre. However, modern readers interpret the poem as a metaphor for Dickinson’s inability to commit herself to love or religion. It is also possible to see this poem as an allegory for death in general. In this manner, the poem is symbolic of human life and mortality.

Before writing one on any work of art, be sure to do some research on the given artist’s background to become well-informed about their life and work.

In their introductory paragraph, students should provide relevant contextual information that will help them make sense of the work they are analyzing.

Body: In addition to discussing what they consider “successes” in the artwork (or its primary themes), students should also identify elements in the artwork that were “failures.”

Their conclusion should include a paragraph in which they synthesize their interpretation by explaining how the work of art addresses aesthetic concerns.

Use your lecturer interpretive essay rubric to ensure that you have followed the guidelines set and increase your chance of getting a better grade.

What is an interpretive response essay?

This is an analytical interpretive essay in which the writer gets to grips with his or her response to a text, idea or issue. The reader will often be asked for interpretation of a particular event at the start and how some aspect of it has influenced their point of view. You might be asked to describe an object and explain how it is symbolic or relate a real life experience you have had. The aim of this kind of essay is expressive exposition, conveying the reader an understanding of your response to the subject matter in hand.

In interpretive essays you are expected to: show that you understand what you are reading, respond creatively and critically; ask questions; expound ideas clearly

How does an interpretive essay differ from other types of essay writing: A response paper is not just simply stating whether or not you agree with something, not giving a summary of facts or expressing your own opinion. It will typically contain more thought than simple regurgitation. You’ll need to put down some thoughts on your reaction and feelings about the subject. You’ll need to show why you are reacting in that particular way and sometimes draw conclusions from your reaction or point out patterns of events or aspects of a text.

When writing an interpretive essay , remember:

• Compare and contrast texts or ideas, you may be asked to focus on similarities between two different topics, such as poetry or music

• Extrapolate what the implications are for society today based on historical evidence.

The form of interpretative essays:

You will be asked to write an interpretive essay in a number of different forms. For example:

1) Compare and contrast text with self

2) Explain what you think the impact is on society today

3) Compare texts or ideas

The structure for writing an interpretive response essay can change from university to university but keep these general points in mind:

Introduction – You need to draw attention to your topic, tell the reader where you are going with it by giving a clear direction statement.

Body – this will divide into paragraphs giving each aspect of your subject its own paragraph.

Conclusion – Your closing remarks, summarise key points, bring the essay to a close. You will be asked at some stage in your interpretation to say “what are the implications?” Do not forget a bibliography and avoid plagiarism

How you can go about writing an interpretive response essay:

What do I write my interpretation on?

This is where you get creative! Choose something that interests you or affects your life in some way.

It could be historical, political, social, philosophical etc.

Any topic that genuinely draws attention is suitable for an interpretive essay but it should be one which has caught your interest or had some personal impact on you.

Perhaps it’s a poem made special by just how beautiful its language is;

Or maybe it’s a book with lots of underlying meanings and suggestions which you have to really think about;

Or it could be a film that makes you see something in a different light or an experience from your own past.

The Interpretation : Keep these points in mind when searching for your subject matter:

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interpretive essay outline example

How to Write an Interpretive Essay?

All academic assignments have a certain purpose. To get a good grade, you should understand the purpose of your assignment and its requirements. Therefore, if you want to learn how to write an interpretive essay, you should understand its purpose and have an idea of what your tutor expects from you. Simply put, an interpretive essay analyzes literary works. Usually, you don’t need to analyze the book in its entirety. Most often, you might be required to select a few elements that you will focus on.

For many students, writing an interpretive essay is a challenging task because they don’t know where to start.  While some types of essays focus on minor details or direct interpretation, other essays might consider the causes and consequences of events or phenomena. Therefore, you should know how to approach this type of writing. In this article, we will consider the key features of interpretive essays, along with the dos and don’ts of interpretive essay writing.

What Is an Interpretive Essay?

An interpretive essay can be quite easy to write but only if you know how to approach it in the right way. Interpretive essays have a lot to do with literary analysis. This type of essay should interpret an author’s work or its specific part. The scope of your analysis and its direction directly depend on your prompt. If there is no specific prompt that you should follow, choosing the right elements for analysis can be difficult.

In this case, the best solution is to choose a theme, character, or fact you’re actually interested in. Read the literary work and then think of the things that grabbed your attention. After choosing the main direction of your essay, the rest of the work will be a little easier. Your essay may focus on alternative meanings of certain fragments or provide a sort of critical analysis of certain elements. 

Interpretive essays are often assigned to students who study literature, arts, and other areas of humanities. Quite often, students need to write an interpretive essay as a part of their introductory literature course. Interpretive essays are also common in advanced and intermediate classes. Most often, such essays focus on a very specific aspect of a literary work. As a result, interpretive essays often begin with a specific question, and then students provide their answers based on the analysis of the material.

How to Write a Good Interpretive Essay

Maintain balance.

When writing an interpretive essay, you should stick with a balanced approach. Most often, interpretive essays are five paragraphs long. The first and the last paragraphs are for an introduction and conclusion, and the body should be three paragraphs long. The introduction should be short yet informative , helping your readers get a grasp on the context of your essay. Each body paragraph should focus on one point, supporting it with relevant evidence.

Although the body is the longest section of your essay, you should also try to keep it concise and avoid providing any irrelevant or unnecessary information. In the concluding paragraph, summarize all the key points of your essay and rewrite your thesis statement taking into account things that you’ve discussed in the main body.

The writing process will be much easier if you prepare for it properly. When reading the literary work your essay focuses on, take notes so that you won’t forget useful details and won’t need to search for them when writing your first draft. We also recommend that you use notes when editing your paper. First, write down a list of things that you’re going to change, and then edit your draft based on these notes. This way, you’ll make the writing and editing process as efficient as possible.

Come up with a meaningful thesis statement

Just like many other types of essays, interpretive essays should have a strong thesis statement that serves as the basis for all arguments. You should present your thesis statement at the end of the introductory paragraph. This way, you will make a logical transition to the main part and make sure that your readers know what to expect from the rest of the essay.

The thesis statement should explain what exactly you’re going to interpret. It must be concise and meaningful, being the central idea of the entire paper.

Include the most relevant information

Avoid any irrelevant and unnecessary content. If you check out the best interpretive essay examples, you will notice that such essays are usually well-focused and informative. Make sure that all the aspects that you analyze in your essay are perfectly relevant to your thesis statement and the overall topic of the essay.

You may include references to outside sources but make sure that they are also relevant and trustworthy. For instance, we recommend that you don’t include references to articles on Wikipedia and consider books and articles from peer-reviewed journals instead.

Present your thoughts in a logical way

If you want to write a successful interpretive essay, you must make sure that your readers will be able to follow your flow of thoughts easily. First, you should grab your readers’ attention with a good introduction. In the main body, present your points in a logical order, starting from the weakest point and moving to the strongest one. Make sure to include transitions between paragraphs and use transitional words between sentences so that your readers can quickly understand the connection between different ideas and pieces of evidence.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know the interpretive essay definition and the main features of this essay type, you will know how to prepare for the writing process properly and what steps to follow. When the first draft of your essay is ready, don’t submit it. Take a break, and then read your essay a couple of times, looking for any logical inconsistencies and grammar mistakes.

Editing and proofreading are integral parts of the writing process. Although students often overlook the importance of proofreading, keep in mind that your grammar, spelling, and punctuation have a direct impact on your grade.

Nowadays, students can benefit from using essay writing services if they don't have enough time to write their own papers. But while It may be tempting to buy a pre-written essay , we strongly discourage you from doing it. It's better to learn how to write it yourself or hire an essay writer to write it for you for scratch.

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How to Write an Interpretive Essay Properly

When you get an interpretive essay as a writing task, you might feel rather overwhelmed. Yes, this kind of writing requires from you not only excellent writing skills or rather a writing talent but something else. You need to know which literary means exist and how they are used. It is good if you know some more opinions about the work.

So, how to write an interpretive essay? How to preserve its main features and follow all the necessary rules? What should you include in the interpretive analysis essay and what should you leave out? Which literary means are worth describing and which aren’t worth your attention? Everything depends on the topic. Hence, you should select it depending on the situation and the requirements.

What Is an Interpretive Essay — Clear Definition

When we speak about the interpretive essay definition, everything seems to be very simple. An interpretive essay is an essay where you analyze another literary work, another written piece. What are you going to analyze? That depends only on you. If your task is to analyze the symbols present in work, then, you look for them and check how they are expressed and what they mean.

If your task is to analyze the feelings and emotions of the characters, you search for their signs and their ways of expression. And so on. Just make sure you are writing a paper that complies with requirements and has some relation to the topic you have selected.

But before writing, check any crucial sources that are available: in a local library or online or wherever you can find them. What do other people tell about the work that you are going to analyze? Do you agree or disagree with their opinions? Even if you believe you can do everything on your own, checking other ideas is very useful.

Then, make a plan. Write each point with as many details as you can. Write down ideas that you are going to use. What about making transitions from one idea to another, at the planning stage? After you are ready with it, you can move to the writing stage.

Interpretive Essay Introduction: Hook the Reader

An interpretive essay introduction offers you plenty of options to hook the reader`s attention.

Prominent writers advice to write:

The main task is to make your reader super interested in your paper. And interpretive essay allows plenty of options to do it.

Interpretive Essay Body: Ideas and Suggestions

Now, the time came to explain all your ideas regarding the literary work you are writing about. Here, in the interpretive essay body, you can give your ideas and substantiate them with the opinions of other people. If those are the opinions of specialists, it is better, however, if those are just the opinions of your group-mates, it is okay, as well. Are there any contrasting ideas? Which of them is, in your opinion, correct? Why do you believe so? An interpretive argument essay is based on such discussions.

Interpretive Essay Conclusion: Sum It Up

Here, in the interpretive essay conclusion, you provide the summary of your paper. As well, here, you give the conclusions, to which you came. How to write a conclusion for an interpretive essay? Come on, and there is nothing complicated here if you have already managed the entire paper. Indicate which ideas were right, with which of them you don’t agree, and make conclusions about the literary work.

Interpretive Essay Outline Points

So, as you can see, there is nothing special in the outline of an interpretive essay. Like any other paper, it consists of three parts:

However, those parts can be written in plenty of ways. You can use any writing style and writing method. You can analyze any aspect of the literary work. The interpretive essay format allows it.

After you have completed your writing, proofread your paper. It is better if you read it several times. One time you, for example, should check if the sentences are easy to read and if the structure is logical. Then, check your assignment for major errors. Finally, read it once more: pay attention to the spelling of each word. After that, you can submit your paper.

So, now, you can write an interpretive essay on any literary work. Just make sure you read the work, read the opinions of experts about it and make sure that you understand the topic. As well, check, if you need, any and which literary means. They might be helpful while analyzing the work, and well, if you use them, you will definitely impress your teacher.

How to Write an Interpretive Essay

An assignment to interpret a work of literature can seem overwhelming. Figuring out where to start, what literary elements to analyze and what to interpret doesn't have to be an impossible task. Choose two or three literary aspects or elements of the work you've been asked to interpret. The essay should have a clear thesis and introduction. It should include body paragraphs covering the elements you're interpreting, including symbolism, characterization, themes or mood and setting.

Prewriting Tasks

Reread the story, poem or novel chapter you've been asked to interpret in the essay and highlight literary elements such as symbols, characters, moods or setting. Focus on specific details and write a list of literary elements you want to interpret. Using Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" as an example, you could write, "The two roads in Robert Frost's poem 'The Road Not Taken' symbolize the choices people make in their lives." As an example of how to interpret a character in a poem, critic Frank Lenticcia wrote that the character of the speaker in Frost's poem was "reliant, decisive and non-conformist."

Writing the Introduction

After you have selected the literary elements you want to interpret in your essay, write an introduction including the author's name, title of the literary work and the literary elements you will interpret in your body paragraphs. If you have chosen to interpret the poem's theme as your primary focus, examine the theme in detail. Using "The Road Not Taken," you could write, "The poem's theme means that choosing your own path in life makes 'all the difference.' " However, literary critics writing in website Modern American Poetry believe Frost's poem is ironic because the paths the traveler chooses between are described as little different from each other. George Montiero wrote that the poem was a nonreligious response to a common religious theme of life choices represented by paths in the woods and "choosing the right path."

Writing Body Paragraphs

Organize your body paragraphs in order of the elements you will interpret. If you begin with symbolism, consider that poetry may contain different symbolic meanings for different time periods and readers. For example, librarian Judith Messerle said that the life choices symbolized by the paths in the woods in "The Road Not Taken" were written in a simpler era. She noted that Frost's paths still hold symbolic meaning for today's reader in the dizzying array of choices in today's information economy. While some believe the poem's theme is "life's choices don't really matter," others find that its theme is uplifting. Critic Frank Lenticchia wrote that Frost's poem is an allegory for the journey of life, and the choice to take the road less traveled represents the theme of self-reliance.

Concluding the Essay

Unify your interpretive essay by writing a conclusion that focuses on the main literary elements you have interpreted. For example, an essay interpreting the theme of Frost's "The Road Not Taken" as ironic, could conclude, similarly to critic Mark Richardson, that the two roads in the poem are "really about the same," and that "both that morning equally lay." The irony in this interpretation lies in the fact that the speaker has said the roads are "the same" repeatedly, yet he concludes that by saying that he took the road "less traveled by" and this has "made all the difference." Richardson compares these statements and concludes that the traveler's choice made no difference at all.

Amy Sterling Casil is an award-winning writer with a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chapman University in Orange, Calif. She is a professional author and college writing teacher, and has published 20 nonfiction books for schools and libraries.

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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay | A Step-by-Step Guide

Published on January 30, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on September 2, 2022.

Literary analysis means closely studying a text, interpreting its meanings, and exploring why the author made certain choices. It can be applied to novels, short stories, plays, poems, or any other form of literary writing.

A literary analysis essay is not a rhetorical analysis , nor is it just a summary of the plot or a book review. Instead, it is a type of argumentative essay where you need to analyze elements such as the language, perspective, and structure of the text, and explain how the author uses literary devices to create effects and convey ideas.

Before beginning a literary analysis essay, it’s essential to carefully read the text and c ome up with a thesis statement to keep your essay focused. As you write, follow the standard structure of an academic essay :

Table of contents

Step 1: reading the text and identifying literary devices, step 2: coming up with a thesis, step 3: writing a title and introduction, step 4: writing the body of the essay, step 5: writing a conclusion.

The first step is to carefully read the text(s) and take initial notes. As you read, pay attention to the things that are most intriguing, surprising, or even confusing in the writing—these are things you can dig into in your analysis.

Your goal in literary analysis is not simply to explain the events described in the text, but to analyze the writing itself and discuss how the text works on a deeper level. Primarily, you’re looking out for literary devices —textual elements that writers use to convey meaning and create effects. If you’re comparing and contrasting multiple texts, you can also look for connections between different texts.

To get started with your analysis, there are several key areas that you can focus on. As you analyze each aspect of the text, try to think about how they all relate to each other. You can use highlights or notes to keep track of important passages and quotes.

Language choices

Consider what style of language the author uses. Are the sentences short and simple or more complex and poetic?

What word choices stand out as interesting or unusual? Are words used figuratively to mean something other than their literal definition? Figurative language includes things like metaphor (e.g. “her eyes were oceans”) and simile (e.g. “her eyes were like oceans”).

Also keep an eye out for imagery in the text—recurring images that create a certain atmosphere or symbolize something important. Remember that language is used in literary texts to say more than it means on the surface.

Narrative voice

Ask yourself:

Is it a first-person narrator (“I”) who is personally involved in the story, or a third-person narrator who tells us about the characters from a distance?

Consider the narrator’s perspective . Is the narrator omniscient (where they know everything about all the characters and events), or do they only have partial knowledge? Are they an unreliable narrator who we are not supposed to take at face value? Authors often hint that their narrator might be giving us a distorted or dishonest version of events.

The tone of the text is also worth considering. Is the story intended to be comic, tragic, or something else? Are usually serious topics treated as funny, or vice versa ? Is the story realistic or fantastical (or somewhere in between)?

Consider how the text is structured, and how the structure relates to the story being told.

Think about why the author chose to divide the different parts of the text in the way they did.

There are also less formal structural elements to take into account. Does the story unfold in chronological order, or does it jump back and forth in time? Does it begin in medias res —in the middle of the action? Does the plot advance towards a clearly defined climax?

With poetry, consider how the rhyme and meter shape your understanding of the text and your impression of the tone. Try reading the poem aloud to get a sense of this.

In a play, you might consider how relationships between characters are built up through different scenes, and how the setting relates to the action. Watch out for  dramatic irony , where the audience knows some detail that the characters don’t, creating a double meaning in their words, thoughts, or actions.

Your thesis in a literary analysis essay is the point you want to make about the text. It’s the core argument that gives your essay direction and prevents it from just being a collection of random observations about a text.

If you’re given a prompt for your essay, your thesis must answer or relate to the prompt. For example:

Essay question example

Is Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” a religious parable?

Your thesis statement should be an answer to this question—not a simple yes or no, but a statement of why this is or isn’t the case:

Thesis statement example

Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” is not a religious parable, but a story about bureaucratic alienation.

Sometimes you’ll be given freedom to choose your own topic; in this case, you’ll have to come up with an original thesis. Consider what stood out to you in the text; ask yourself questions about the elements that interested you, and consider how you might answer them.

Your thesis should be something arguable—that is, something that you think is true about the text, but which is not a simple matter of fact. It must be complex enough to develop through evidence and arguments across the course of your essay.

Say you’re analyzing the novel Frankenstein . You could start by asking yourself:

Your initial answer might be a surface-level description:

The character Frankenstein is portrayed negatively in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .

However, this statement is too simple to be an interesting thesis. After reading the text and analyzing its narrative voice and structure, you can develop the answer into a more nuanced and arguable thesis statement:

Mary Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.

Remember that you can revise your thesis statement throughout the writing process , so it doesn’t need to be perfectly formulated at this stage. The aim is to keep you focused as you analyze the text.

Finding textual evidence

To support your thesis statement, your essay will build an argument using textual evidence —specific parts of the text that demonstrate your point. This evidence is quoted and analyzed throughout your essay to explain your argument to the reader.

It can be useful to comb through the text in search of relevant quotations before you start writing. You might not end up using everything you find, and you may have to return to the text for more evidence as you write, but collecting textual evidence from the beginning will help you to structure your arguments and assess whether they’re convincing.

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interpretive essay outline example

To start your literary analysis paper, you’ll need two things: a good title, and an introduction.

Your title should clearly indicate what your analysis will focus on. It usually contains the name of the author and text(s) you’re analyzing. Keep it as concise and engaging as possible.

A common approach to the title is to use a relevant quote from the text, followed by a colon and then the rest of your title.

If you struggle to come up with a good title at first, don’t worry—this will be easier once you’ve begun writing the essay and have a better sense of your arguments.

“Fearful symmetry” : The violence of creation in William Blake’s “The Tyger”

The introduction

The essay introduction provides a quick overview of where your argument is going. It should include your thesis statement and a summary of the essay’s structure.

A typical structure for an introduction is to begin with a general statement about the text and author, using this to lead into your thesis statement. You might refer to a commonly held idea about the text and show how your thesis will contradict it, or zoom in on a particular device you intend to focus on.

Then you can end with a brief indication of what’s coming up in the main body of the essay. This is called signposting. It will be more elaborate in longer essays, but in a short five-paragraph essay structure, it shouldn’t be more than one sentence.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.

Some students prefer to write the introduction later in the process, and it’s not a bad idea. After all, you’ll have a clearer idea of the overall shape of your arguments once you’ve begun writing them!

If you do write the introduction first, you should still return to it later to make sure it lines up with what you ended up writing, and edit as necessary.

The body of your essay is everything between the introduction and conclusion. It contains your arguments and the textual evidence that supports them.

Paragraph structure

A typical structure for a high school literary analysis essay consists of five paragraphs : the three paragraphs of the body, plus the introduction and conclusion.

Each paragraph in the main body should focus on one topic. In the five-paragraph model, try to divide your argument into three main areas of analysis, all linked to your thesis. Don’t try to include everything you can think of to say about the text—only analysis that drives your argument.

In longer essays, the same principle applies on a broader scale. For example, you might have two or three sections in your main body, each with multiple paragraphs. Within these sections, you still want to begin new paragraphs at logical moments—a turn in the argument or the introduction of a new idea.

Robert’s first encounter with Gil-Martin suggests something of his sinister power. Robert feels “a sort of invisible power that drew me towards him.” He identifies the moment of their meeting as “the beginning of a series of adventures which has puzzled myself, and will puzzle the world when I am no more in it” (p. 89). Gil-Martin’s “invisible power” seems to be at work even at this distance from the moment described; before continuing the story, Robert feels compelled to anticipate at length what readers will make of his narrative after his approaching death. With this interjection, Hogg emphasizes the fatal influence Gil-Martin exercises from his first appearance.

Topic sentences

To keep your points focused, it’s important to use a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph.

A good topic sentence allows a reader to see at a glance what the paragraph is about. It can introduce a new line of argument and connect or contrast it with the previous paragraph. Transition words like “however” or “moreover” are useful for creating smooth transitions:

… The story’s focus, therefore, is not upon the divine revelation that may be waiting beyond the door, but upon the mundane process of aging undergone by the man as he waits.

Nevertheless, the “radiance” that appears to stream from the door is typically treated as religious symbolism.

This topic sentence signals that the paragraph will address the question of religious symbolism, while the linking word “nevertheless” points out a contrast with the previous paragraph’s conclusion.

Using textual evidence

A key part of literary analysis is backing up your arguments with relevant evidence from the text. This involves introducing quotes from the text and explaining their significance to your point.

It’s important to contextualize quotes and explain why you’re using them; they should be properly introduced and analyzed, not treated as self-explanatory:

It isn’t always necessary to use a quote. Quoting is useful when you’re discussing the author’s language, but sometimes you’ll have to refer to plot points or structural elements that can’t be captured in a short quote.

In these cases, it’s more appropriate to paraphrase or summarize parts of the text—that is, to describe the relevant part in your own words:

The conclusion of your analysis shouldn’t introduce any new quotations or arguments. Instead, it’s about wrapping up the essay. Here, you summarize your key points and try to emphasize their significance to the reader.

A good way to approach this is to briefly summarize your key arguments, and then stress the conclusion they’ve led you to, highlighting the new perspective your thesis provides on the text as a whole:

By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.

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Tips for an Interpretive Essay + Bonus Outline

Robert features an interpretive essay.

Have you ever been in a situation when reading a book makes your eyebrow raise, and you ask yourself “What did the author really mean?”🤔 Relax, most pieces of writing require at least minimal explanation. But what about standing in the author’s shoes by suggesting your professor and peers the true intent of the text? An interpretive essay is exactly an exercise on trying to understand and explain what is text, movie or an article about. 👌

Sounds intriguing? Then, you should definitely read this tutorial about interpretative writing. “Hook” your audience, have fun deciphering meaning and get a sample interpretive essay outline as a bonus😊

Contents (Clickable)

   Getting Started

Well, guys, let’s make it clear – the interpretive essay is a completely unique genre. When composing an interpretive essay, you have an important mission to explain what a text means 😅

Years of academic writing experience show that composing an interpretive essay is a challenge for most students. So, our geeks have brainstormed to draft the golden rules of interpretive writing ! You’ll learn these rules pretty soon, and now let’s make it clear what an interpretive essay IS and what it IS NOT.

Explains historical, cultural etc context of the textContext is of little to no significance
Focuses on literary elementsLiterary elements are not important
Tries to find the “hidden” meaningMeaning is on the surface
Multiple interpretations are possibleOne interpretation is preferable

Now you can see that interpretive essay is an excellent opportunity to express your opinion without compromising your grade😍

Wait, I hear exclamations of impatience… It seems like some of you are willing to dive into the ocean of interpretation as soon as possible! Well, give me a couple more minutes to explain the basic rules of interpretive writing. These tips are a reliable rescue balloon for bold divers!

Did you know that Homework Lab is a student task sharing platform? You can work on tasks on your own or ask professional Geeks for help. Join anytime, anywhere for free.

   Working Tips from Friendly Geeks

Men discuss an interpretive essay outline.

Our geeks are never tired to share their knowledge with you! So, they’ve prepared golden rules of interpretive writing! Be ready to impress your professor with the breadth and depth of your thinking!

Not long ago, our geeks discussed The Grapes of Wrath ; and now we have four strategies to interpret big works:

Let’s consider Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe as an example. Your audience may wonder why numerous visitors are suspicious of the relationships between Idgie and Ruth if you don’t explain that the events occur in the 1930s America, where the lesbian theme was a taboo.

1. Start each paragraph with a statement: Don’t assume that the audience can read your thoughts or follow your arguments effortlessly. A good interpreter, you are to create the roadmap for your readers. Every paragraph should include a topic idea, arguments to support it, and a takeaway message.

Our geeks have already prepared the tutorial about structuring your essay. So, don’t miss a chance to learn from those who are really cool in what they do!

2. Wind up your interpretation with a takeaway message: Do you know the difference between the excellent essay and the bad one? It’s simple: you forget what the lousy essay is about shortly after you read the last line, but the good one makes you think, and think, and think… Turn your interpretive essay into the good one by posing questions that the readers would like to think on.

Beware posing explicit questions like: “What do you think…?” “Do you agree…?” “Is it true that…?” Use your writing talent to pose implicit questions. Such questions don’t put anything directly but engage the reader in reflection: “While the author never mentions it, there is the reason to believe…”, “The idea is ambiguous, and there’s room for dispute…”, “This statement also implies that…”

   Interpretive Essay Outline

An interpretive essay on of mice and men.

The icing on the cake is the promised outline for the interpretative essay. This time, I suggest you interpret the novella Of Mice and Men because it’s very likely that you’ll learn it in your literary studies.

1 Paragraph

Suggestions: During the Great Depression, millions of people were wandering from place to place to earn their living. Exhausted by constant searches, they lost their tolerance and chased “different” people like Lennie Small.

2 Paragraph

Every paragraph starts with the topic sentence that explains what the whole unit will be about. For instance, “In times of the Great Depression, there was a major transformation in human relationships, since people were busy earning their bread and salt and had no desire to think on humanistic “trifles.”

You can support your argument in many ways, including facts, quotes, or details from the piece under analysis.

3 Paragraph

Topic sentence: Lennie Small is very different from other people on the farm, and his companion George Milton does everything possible to hide this “difference” for security reasons.

4 Paragraph

In a 5-paragraph essay, this paragraph is your last chance to convince the audience that your interpretation is correct. Don’t miss it, and provide the best evidence possible!

Topic sentence: George Milton realizes that people on the farm will not take into account Lennie’s mental retardation; therefore, he shoots his companion to avoid the brutal reprisal from the enraged mob.

5 Paragraph

If written correctly, this paragraph leaves your audience under the impression that your interpretation is absolutely correct. To achieve this effect, you should:

   Instead of an Afterword

In interpretive writing, things always go as intended if you understand what you’re writing about and why you’re writing about it. Now you have all the knowledge to write the essay that will bring the house down. But you can’t even imagine the number of students whom our geeks made proficient in the interpretative writing 🤓

interpretive essay outline example

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How to Write an Analytical Essay in 6 Steps

Matt Ellis

An analytical essay is an essay that meticulously and methodically examines a single topic to draw conclusions or prove theories. Although they are used in many fields, analytical essays are often used with art and literature to break down works’ creative themes and explore their deeper meanings and symbolism . 

Analytical essays are a staple in academics, so if you’re a student, chances are you’ll write one sooner or later. This guide addresses all the major concerns about how to write an analytical essay, such as the preferred structure and what to put in the outline. Let’s start with an in-depth answer to the question, what is an analytical essay? Give your writing extra polish Grammarly helps you communicate confidently Write with Grammarly

What is an analytical essay?

One of the seven main types of essay , analytical essays intricately examine a single topic to explain specific arguments or prove the author’s theories. They commonly deal with creative works like art, literature, film, or music, dissecting the creator’s artistic themes and revealing hidden meanings. However, they can also address other issues in realms like science, politics, and society. 

Analytical essays are a type of expository essay , so they’re not supposed to express bias, opinions , or persuasions . Even when the author is trying to prove their own theory (or disprove an opposing theory), their argument should stick solely to facts and logic and keep the author’s personal feelings to a minimum. 

An analytical essay example could be a deep dive into the character of Hamlet, but this topic itself could have multiple interpretations. Your essay could focus on whether or not Hamlet truly loved Ophelia, question the motives for his constant hesitation, or even attempt to prove the theory that he was mentally ill—after all, he did see apparitions! 

How to structure an analytical essay

Although analytical essays tend to be more detailed, specific, or technical than other essays, they still follow the same loose essay structure as the rest:

1 Introduction

3   Conclusion

The introduction is where you present your thesis statement and prepare your reader for what follows. Because analytical essays focus on a single topic, the introduction should give all the background information and context necessary for the reader to understand the writer’s argument. Save the actual analysis of your topic for the body. 

The body is the nucleus of your essay. Here you explain each separate point and offer evidence to support the thesis, breaking up your argument into paragraphs. While the introduction and conclusion are each usually just a single paragraph, the body is composed of many different paragraphs and often stretches out over pages, thereby making up most of the essay. 

Every paragraph in the body still relates to your chosen topic and your thesis, but each paragraph should make a different point or focus on a different piece of evidence. For example, if your topic is about how Edgar Allan Poe uses the theme of death in his writing, one paragraph could explore the use of death in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” while a different paragraph could explore death in “The Raven,” and so on. 

Finally, the conclusion wraps everything up. Conclusions usually don’t introduce new evidence or supporting details but instead reiterate the previous points and bring them all together to strengthen your original thesis. At this point your reader has sufficient background to understand the topic. With your evidential examples in mind, they’ll be more receptive to your main argument when you present it one last time. 

How to write an analytical essay in 6 steps

The process of writing an analytical essay largely follows the same guidelines as all essay writing . Here we break down each individual step from start to finish. 

1 Choose your topic

This step may be optional if your topic has been given to you as an assignment. If not, though, you should choose your topic with care. 

Your topic should be specific enough that you’re able to discuss it thoroughly. If you choose a broad topic like “love in novels from Victorian England,” it’s unlikely you’ll be able to cover all Victorian novels in a single analytical essay (or even ten analytical essays!). However, narrowing the topic down to something such as “love in Jane Austen novels” makes your task more achievable. 

That said, don’t be too specific, or you won’t have enough material to cover. Try to find a good middle ground: specific enough that you can discuss everything but general enough that you’ll be able to find enough research and supporting evidence. 

2 Research your topic

Once you know your topic, you can begin collecting data and evidence to discuss it. If your analytical essay is about a creative work, you may want to spend time reviewing or evaluating that work, such as watching a film closely or studying the details of a painting. It’s also useful to review other people’s critiques of that work to inspire new ideas or reveal details you hadn’t noticed before. 

Don’t forget to write down where you get your information, including page numbers for books or time codes if you’re watching visual media. You may need to reference these in your essay, so making a quick note about where you find your information while researching saves time later when you’re citing your sources . 

It helps to know your thesis from the onset. However, you may realize during your research that your original thesis is not as strong as you thought. If this happens, don’t be afraid to modify it or choose a new one. In any case, by the time your research is finished, you should know what your thesis will be.  

3 Create an outline

An essay outline gives you the opportunity to organize all your thoughts and research so you can put them in the optimal order. Ideally, you’ll have finished your research by now and made notes of everything you want to say in your analytical essay. The outline is your chance to decide when to talk about each point. 

Outlines are typically broken up by paragraph. Each paragraph should explore an individual point you’re making and include your evidence or statistical data to back up that particular point. Be careful about trying to squeeze too much information into a single paragraph; if it looks excessive, try to break up the information into two or more paragraphs. 

Feel free to move around or rearrange the order of paragraphs while outlining—that’s what this step is for! It’s much easier to fix structural problems now in the outline phase than later when writing. 

4 Write your first draft

Now is the time you sit down and actually write the rough draft of your analytical essay. This step is by far the longest, so be sure to set aside ample time. 

If you wrote your outline thoroughly, all you have to do is follow it paragraph by paragraph. Be sure to include each piece of evidence and data you had planned to include. Don’t worry about details like choosing the perfect wording or fixing every grammar mistake—you can do those later in the revisions phase. For now, focus solely on getting everything down. 

Pay particular attention to how you start an essay. The introduction serves different purposes, such as telling the reader what to expect, providing background information, and above all presenting your thesis statement. Make sure your introduction checks all those boxes. 

Likewise, be extra careful with your conclusion. There are special techniques for how to write a conclusion, such as using a powerful clincher and avoiding certain cliches like “in summary.” Conclusions usually hold more weight than the other paragraphs because they’re the last thing a person reads and can leave a lasting impression on them. 

Finally, don’t forget to include transition sentences in between your body paragraphs when needed. Moving abruptly from one topic to the next can be jarring for the reader; transition sentences improve the essay’s flow and remove distractions.  

5 Revise your draft

Your first draft is never meant to be perfect. Once you have all your ideas down on paper, it’s much easier to go back and revise . Now is the perfect time to improve your phrasing and word choice and edit out any unnecessary or tangential parts.

When you revise, pay particular attention to details. Try to find areas that you can remove to make your essay more succinct or passages that aren’t clear that need more explanation. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes: Will someone with no background knowledge still understand your points? 

6 Proofread your essay

Last, it’s time to fix any grammar and spelling mistakes by proofreading . While it’s tempting to do this at the same time as your revisions, it’s best to do them separately so you don’t split your attention. This allows you to focus only on word choice, phrasing, and adding/removing content while revising and to concentrate solely on language mistakes during proofreading. 

If you’re not confident in your grammar or spelling expertise, you can always use an app like Grammarly . Our app highlights any spelling or grammar mistakes directly in your text and gives proper suggestions on how to fix them. There are even features that help you choose the perfect word or adjust your writing to fit a certain tone. You can also copy  and paste your writing to check your grammar and get instant feedback on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other mistakes you might have missed.

Analytical essay outline example

If you’re having trouble, here’s an analytical essay example that shows how a proper outline or structure should look. The format here uses a five-paragraph essay structure, but for more complicated topics, you can add as many body paragraphs as you need. 

Topic: Who is the real villain: Macbeth or Lady Macbeth?


Body Paragraph 1 

Body Paragraph 2

Body Paragraph 3

Analytical essay FAQs

An analytical essay is an essay that deeply examines a single topic, often a creative work, to reveal certain conclusions or prove theories held by the essay’s author. 

How is an analytical essay structured?

Analytical essays are structured like most other essays: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. However, the body paragraphs have a stricter emphasis on facts, logic, and empirical evidence compared to other essays. 

What are the steps to writing an analytical essay? 

As with all essays, you first research and then organize all your points into a working outline. Next, you write the rough draft with all the data and evidence collected during your research. Revise the rough draft when it’s finished to improve the phrasing and add/remove certain parts. Last, proofread the essay for any grammar or spelling mistakes.

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How To Write An Interpretive Analysis Essay

interpretive essay outline example

How To Write An Interpretation   Essay

An interpretive essay is an essay that provides an analysis of another piece of writing. An assignment to interpret a work of literature can seem overwhelming. Figuring out where to start, what literary elements to analyze and what to interpret does not have to be an impossible task. Here at iwriteessays.com we make the task of writing an interpretive essay simple.

What is An Interpretive Analysis Essay

 Just like the name suggests, interpretive analysis essays asks students to  interpret or critically analyze a subject (such as a work of art or, a person, or event) into its constituent parts, and offer a meaning--or alternative meanings of each of the components. An interpretive or critical analysis is a common type of research papers inthe arts, literature, and the other humanities. Most students will be asked to write an interpretive analysis essay in their introductory literature courses as well as in their intermediate and advanced classes.  The most common way for this type of essay to start is by giving an interpretive question, such as "What is the relationship of Romeo to his father,"

How To Write An Interpretation Essay: Writer's Goal or Assignment Requirement

As stated above, the main goal of a literary analysis essay is to take a piece of work and look at the interesting segments in that literary work. The best way to begin is to first choose a scene, character, activity, line, or some other segment of a literary work, then break this segment into small parts, and analyze each of them individually.

The best way to analyze these segments of the literary work is to use the elements of literature to help explain the meanings, compare and contrast each part with other parts of the work or apply a literary theory to each part.

Your analysis should be logical. In addition, you should check the structure to come up with a balanced essay, which contains a brief introduction, a number of well-organized body paragraphs that focus on one idea, and a brief conclusion. Upon the instructor request, you can also include a brief  first body section after the introduction to summarize the main elements of the work to introduce the work. 

What To Include In The Interpretive Analysis Essay

The Interpretive Analysis Essay should have an introduction, body, and a conclusion. The writer must consistently quote and paraphrase the literary work in the introduction, body, and conclusion to help them in their analysis and in determining the possible meanings. These quotations and paraphrases help the writer to support their arguments by showing clearly, what the author of the work has written and prevising their own interpretations to the quoted text.

Apart from this, the writer must include quotations, paraphrases, and references from other literary works and professional critics. The additional quotations will help the writer develop a well-supported claim to the meanings of the work that they are analyzing.  Finally, the writer must then add in text citations and a full bibliography on either APA, MLA or the style that the lecturer specifies.

Additional Tips On Writing An Interpretive Essay:

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10+ Analytical Essay Outline Examples [ Critical, Argument, Expository ]

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101 Interpretation Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best interpretation topic ideas & essay examples, 👍 good essay topics on interpretation, 💡 most interesting interpretation topics to write about, 💯 free interpretation essay topic generator.

IvyPanda. (2023, January 23). 101 Interpretation Essay Topic Ideas & Examples. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/interpretation-essay-topics/

IvyPanda. (2023, January 23). 101 Interpretation Essay Topic Ideas & Examples. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/interpretation-essay-topics/

"101 Interpretation Essay Topic Ideas & Examples." IvyPanda , 23 Jan. 2023, ivypanda.com/essays/topic/interpretation-essay-topics/.

1. IvyPanda . "101 Interpretation Essay Topic Ideas & Examples." January 23, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/interpretation-essay-topics/.


IvyPanda . "101 Interpretation Essay Topic Ideas & Examples." January 23, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/interpretation-essay-topics/.

IvyPanda . 2023. "101 Interpretation Essay Topic Ideas & Examples." January 23, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/interpretation-essay-topics/.

IvyPanda . (2023) '101 Interpretation Essay Topic Ideas & Examples'. 23 January.


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    All of those things are important, but it's not the only thing you want to do. This is only step 1. Step 2 is to evaluate and analyze the author's methods. If you only identify them, you're only going so far. To have an effective interpretive essay, you want to evaluate the methods the author used instead of simply identifying them.

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    that alerts them to the most important, interpretive points in your essay. It might be helpful to think of a topic sentence as working in two directions simultaneously. It relates the paragraph to the essay's thesis, and thereby acts as a signpost for the argument of the paper as a whole, but it also defines the scope of the paragraph itself. ii.

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    For example, if your topic is about how Edgar Allan Poe uses the theme of death in his writing, one paragraph could explore the use of death in "The Tell-Tale Heart," while a different paragraph could explore death in "The Raven," and so on. Finally, the conclusion wraps everything up.

  17. How To Write An Interpretation Essay

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  20. 101 Interpretation Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

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