Shmoop's Guide to Writing the Perfect Essay
What's the Point?: Here's a quick look at what analysis essays try to accomplish.
Imagine one of those old ship-in-a-bottle decorations. How exactly did they get that boat in there? How did the bow, mast, sails, and pristine miniature crow’s nest fit through the tiny bottleneck? To puzzle out the problem, you have to stop thinking about how the whole thing fits and start thinking about how each individual part was placed into the bottle to create the overall effect. That’s the idea behind analysis. Looking at any whole—a written source, an image, an idea, a policy—analysis asks what the parts of it are and how they come together to accomplish their purpose. Analysis closely examines individual words, sentences, aspects, origins, intentions, and angles in order to understand the meaning or significance of the whole.
Sample Prompts: These are a few typical analysis essay prompts. Do any of them look familiar?
Key Words: If one of these words has been used a lot in the essay assignment or your class discussion, you might be working on an analysis essay.