Thematic analysis essay
Length: Five paragraphs in 2-3 pages
Format: Typed, MLA style, 12 p. Times New Roman
Additional: One secondary source and a Works Cited page analyze three themes (one per body paragraph)
In at least one of your body paragraphs, use a brief quotation from a secondary source. The
quotation should not be long, but it must address the theme that you are analyzing in that
particular paragraph. The source must provide some insight into the theme and not simply
provide narrative information that the reader can get from the story. Since, like the primary
source, the secondary source is used as evidence to support the main idea of the paragraph in
which it is included, you need to make sure that your secondary source either helps clarify your
ideas about the theme or provides an opportunity to go into further detail about the theme.
Though you are required to make use of the secondary in at least one paragraph, you are free to
use the source more than once. Finally, you will include a Works Cited page at the end of your
In addition, I am asking for
a specific structure for this essay as follows:
Include the standard information for literary analysis.
Briefly state the three themes you will be analyzing. Do not telegraph (announce)–in
other words, do not say “In this essay, I will analyze….” The themes should be brief and
not presented as “morals to the story.”
Body Paragraphs. Each body paragraph will follow this general format:
State the theme you will be analyzing in the paragraph. This can be brief.
Explain what we learn about the theme from the story, i.e. the insight into the theme that
the story provides. In other words, provide a thoughtful explanation of the way or ways
the story tries to make the reader think about this theme. What does the story want the
reader to understand about this theme? (Do not make mention of “the reader.”)
Quote or paraphrase from the story (cited) to support the topic sentence and the thematic
insight. Provide details from the text that are key for understanding this theme. This could
be a key scene or several shorter but related details that appear in the course of the story.
Analyze the evidence and explain how the evidence supports what you have stated in the
reasoning section of the paragraph.
The body paragraph including the secondary source will add the following to the
Secondary Source [in at least one of your paragraphs]
Use a brief quotation (or a paraphrase) from a secondary source to do one (or more) of the
Help articulate what the story says about a theme (reasoning)
Help analyze the evidence (analysis)
Bring the paragraph to an authoritative conclusion
Do not summarize. Instead, explain how the three themes work together to enhance the
reader’s general understanding. This should be slightly philosophical.
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