Analyzing a short story essay

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No description. Identify the major characters. Most short stories are character-driven. Take a few moments to determine who the major characters are in your story, and write them down. Give a brief outline of the plot. Understanding the context of a short story can give you a lot of insight into why the story was written the way it was. Learning about who the author was and what conventions they were familiar with is a major part of putting any story in context.

Wodehouse was a Classically educated author who grew up in late Victorian and Edwardian England.

Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

During the s, he lived and worked in New York as an author, lyricist, and playwright. His stories combine references to classic Western literature with references to contemporary British and American pop culture. Major cultural and political shifts are often reflected in short stories, whether purposefully or in a more subtle context. It plays on humorous American stereotypes of the English aristocracy while avoiding references to contemporary historical events. Determine the intended audience.

For example, a story written for children will probably have a different tone, themes, and vocabulary level from a story aimed at adults. As you analyze the story, consider for whom the author was writing. The story was designed to appeal to an adult, middle class American audience. Identify the physical setting. The setting of a story provides atmosphere and helps the action feel more grounded and real. It can also play a significant role in how the plot of the story plays out.

Try to identify where, specifically, the story is set, and think about how the author creates the setting. Wodehouse does not describe the setting in great detail, but creates an impression by offering minor details in passing e. Look at the historical setting.

The time when a story is set can also be very significant. While the author may not specify exactly when the story is taking place, you can usually get a good idea by looking at clues like the language that the characters use, references to historical events or popular culture, and even descriptions of costume and technology.

Some stories may have historical settings that are changed or interrupted in the narrative structure. In these instances, look at what effect the fractured or non-linear setting might create.

Literary Criticism: thesis examples

Assess how the setting affects the story. One way to approach this is to think about how the story might be different if it were in a different setting. Would the tone of the story feel the same? Would the events and themes of the story fit in another setting? How are the characters and their beliefs and actions influenced by their historical, cultural, and geographical context? List the most important event s in the plot. The plot is the sequence of related events that make up a story.

Bertie steals the manuscript, but Florence's brother catches him in the act and tells the uncle. Jeeves takes the manuscript before Bertie's uncle can find it. Bertie thinks Jeeves is keeping the manuscript safe, but he has actually sent it on to the publisher.

Florence breaks off the engagement when she finds out the memoirs have been published. Bertie is angry at first, but Jeeves convinces him that he would have been unhappy married to Florence. Identify the main conflict. Most plots revolve around a major conflict. Conflict in a story is a dramatic struggle between 2 opposing forces. This could take the form of a dispute between 2 characters external conflict , or a struggle between opposing desires within a single character internal conflict.

The 2 characters engage in a power struggle that starts out small e. Look for exposition. Many plots incorporate exposition, or background information that helps set the scene and allows the reader to more easily understand what is happening. This sets the stage for the rest of the story. Divide the plot into its main parts. Short stories often end on their climaxes, giving readers a sudden insight. Climax: Jeeves intercepts the manuscript and secretly sends it to the publisher, causing Florence to break the engagement.

Falling action: Bertie is ready to fire Jeeves, but Jeeves convinces him that Florence was not a good match for him.

Pinpoint the resolution. While not all plots have a clear resolution, this is a common element of many short stories. Analyze the structure of the plot. Is it presented in chronological order, or does it jump around in time? Does the story begin before the main action starts, or does it open in the middle of the action in media res? Is it left open-ended, or is there a tidy resolution to the story?

Analyzing Stories

Then, think about why the author structured their plot that way, and what effect or meaning could be derived from the structure. Evaluate the point of view of the story. Point of view is an important aspect of a story, since it provides the lens through which you interpret the events, characters, and themes of the story. You could even imagine what the story would be like with a different point of view, and what effect that would have on your reading experience.

When reading the story, consider: From whose point of view is the story told?

How to Analyze a Short Story

Is it one of the characters in the story, or an unnamed observer? The characters are the lifeblood of most short stories. The plot develops from their actions. As you read the story, think about what defines each of the characters for you, and why you think the author gave them these traits. Character traits could include things like: [12] Physical appearance e.