Literary Analysis: How to Explain and Defend Your ArgumentMarch 25, 2019

Jordan Peele's directorial career had been a success, and the fact that he had only two films to his name would make it more remarkable than it seemed. Ira Levin’s fans would point out "The Stepford Wives" as the main reason behind the commercial and critical acclaim of "Get Out", a horrifying tale on racism. For "Us", his sophomore feature, Peele would reference many films, one of which is Michael Haneke's "Funny Games". Haneke would be renowned for disturbing films like "The Piano Teacher", prompting some outsiders to wonder if Austria won't be a good place to live in. (And Levin's other novel has something to do with it.) This kind of identification is similar to a university student doing a literary analysis of a written text.

If you're reading this article (and writing an assignment on a particular text), it's important to know the different elements of literature that would help you explain and defend your argument. Peele knew which films that inspired him to write and direct "Get Out" and "Us". And he didn't make any secret about it. The trailer of his latest feature may suggest the gradual destruction of American society, which seems to allude to the Trump administration. It would be pointless to discuss the real-estate mogul and former reality TV star one more time (or compare him to Fraser Anning), as this comparison should give you a good idea on how to approach your assignment correctly. This important step should help you finish your paper ahead of the deadline.

You’re aware of the frequent use of allegory, such as the danger of seeking racial purity. (J.K. Rowling did a fantastic job on this one.) If you’re thinking of the classics, then you might choose man’s struggle on his instincts. (Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” is a great example of this one.) And you wouldn’t miss out on diction (or the lack of it). These are the common types, and the more interesting ones are about to come next.

When the Idea is Greater Than the Object Itself

Talk to the animals. Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" is a good illustration of a representation of animal for a higher order. Fans of numismatics would associate the bald eagle to America, if not patriotism. There's a start, as Dick's novel would be overshadowed by Ridley Scott's adaptation of the book. Scott omitted the animals that should help university students on writing a paper on it. As the title would suggest, Rick Deckard's manmade world is the new reality. It won't be hard to imagine this dystopian setting, which has nothing to do with (manmade) wonders (like the Sydney Opera House). If you're thinking of the Statue in Liberty, in ruins, then you're not far from what this kind of symbolism is all about.

Whose point of view it is? Most authors employ the third-person narrative, which means one (and only one) thing. It would be up to the readers to figure out the message behind the story. This is one of many points of views, which expresses different intentions by the author(s). For instance, the second person would imply that the narrator is part of the story. Italo Calvino's philosophical novels come to mind here. On the other hand, the omnipresent narrator enables the reader to judge a certain character in a thoughtful way. This is different from the first-person narrative, which is somehow limited in scope. Many readers wouldn't pay attention to the narration, but you're not any reader.

The choices that an author makes (to reveal a character's personality). It has little to do with being a protagonist (or antagonist), of being a major character (or a minor one) as well. It has nothing to do with dynamic and static characters. This requires some effort, as you must be able to figure out what the author says AND doesn't say about a particular character. You won't have a problem in finding clues, as one gesture can reveal everything. It can also be a particular expression, also the manner of talking (or walking). After all, a literary text wouldn't be a good one without any subtle (or implied) meaning.

The Way the Story Turns Out

You must take note of how the characters and their stories are arranged. Some would think about the plot, maybe a bit too much, yet it won’t be what you’re thinking of. If foreshadowing comes to mind, then you might recall your favourite Gothic tale. If it’s exposition, then it wouldn’t take you a minute to identify a local work. And you could argue that many genres contain an element of suspense. It can be a genre by itself, though.

You’re aware of most of the elements of the story, which enables you to think of the best approach to explain and defend your argument. You can opt for one (and only one), but make sure that you can make a persuasive argument from it. Your choices would help you finish your assignment in the shortest time (or not).

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