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Hints giving you some ideas for writing an analysis essay on a short story


Writing a critical analysis of a short story requires you to look for hidden meaning in the story. It requires you to review it critically and pay attention to the goals and motives of the characters, and the influence that background has on the actions of the characters. Your job is to note symbolism as it is portrayed in the passage. To do this, ask yourself a few questions such as:

  • Was there a moral to this story?
  • Was is the point of view of the narrator and how does this change the story?
  • Is the story trying to teach something?
  • Is the point of view slanted? Does it slant the outcome for the reader?

Once you ask yourself these questions you need to start writing. First of all, what do you need in order to write an analysis of a short story?

  • You need the story that was assigned to you, or one that you select
  • You need the directions for the assignment
  • You need opinions about the meaning and construction of the story

Now that you have the right tools, how do you write the analysis?

Step 4:

It is important that you are critical and that you judge the story critically. Your opinions really count for something in a short story analysis. While a research paper might require only hard facts and data, your purpose here is to provide an opinion and back it up. If the author conveyed their meaning in a clear and consistent manner, state that in your essay. If the author was unclear about their meaning, or the meaning became easily lost in the text, state that too.

For example: the short story “The Necklace” is often seen as a sad tale of a materialistic wife who resents her husband and does not care for him. It is often analyzed as having a male character who suffers and is patient and loving, giving up everything that he has just to repay a debt that was incurred by his frivolous and materialistic wife. But a critical analysis might reveal that, the author did a bad job of showing both sides to this story and that the husband was not portrayed well. After all, he was a passive aggressive character who opted to indulge his materialistic partner.

At the end you want to offer a single paragraph summarizing the points you made in the story.

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