An analytical essay is an in-depth analysis of a book. You should be able to articulate their thoughts (or feelings) about a particular book. They must persuade their readers about their argument, which involves comparison, contrast(s), and illustrations (quoting quotes from the text). There can be too much literary criticism from it, which can be challenging to young minds. They only need to get the hang of it.
This guide would be pointless if there won't be an example, so let's choose Henry David Thoreau's "Walden". Some critics saw this celebrated work from the Transcendentalist era as the greatest essay every written on this side of the Atlantic. (France would also claim authority on this literary genre, but there won't be any need for senseless comparison and strong words.) The same piece could also be considered a compilation of analytical essays, where Thoreau spent two years of solitude on the banks of Walden Pond. It won't be hard to see the topic of argument (or debate), but let's tick off some items from the short list.
You must figure out why the author would pen the book. The next step should be a comparison between the author's thinking and yours. It can only happen if you have a notebook to write down their favorite quotes, as well as brief notes on pages you fancy at the first glance. And then you must attempt to contradict the author's views.
Here's a Short List for Writing an Analytical Essay
Ask why an author would pen such a book. The most obvious answer is the personal experience, so you must dig deeper. Social media would be nonexistent back then, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that writers (of yesteryear) have noble intention. There are no right and wrong answers here, as perception is subjective in nature. It will yield a diverse, if not thought-provoking, opinion. It will better not to play it safe.
Turn comparison into a fun exercise. There's nothing wrong about agreeing on every word by the author, but it won't be an analytical essay at all. There must be a particular page, if not chapter, where you have a strong opinion about it. And it should be different from the writer's. You must not be hesitant about not revealing it. You must be able to provide enough data (and examples) to justify it. Stock knowledge and (online) research will come in handy here. There's a danger of information overload, so be selective about which ideas to include in your (analytical) essay.
Take notes. It would be impossible to recall every word in a 500-page book, so you should have a notebook on your side. There can be instances when an idea comes to mind (after you are done with a chapter). It can also be a quote that should make a huge impression. It can be the setting (or characters) as well. Look at your notes again and again, as perspective may come to mind unexpectedly.
Ask some hard questions. This can take some time, so procrastination should be out of the question. Look at the bigger picture, as a good book will prompt readers to react to it. Writing about it will be another matter, so Google will come in handy. Uncertainty can be better express with a question or two.
Let's use Henry David Thoreau's essays as an example:
What did Thoreau prove to his readers? Some readers would see a man who didn't fancy having a social life, so he retreated to Walden Pond for a few years. Thoreau ran away from society (or so these readers thought). Then again, this isolation gave this Massachusetts native a new resolve in his writing career. This should not prompt you to point out Jonathan Swift, as there would be similarities. You must analyze further.
Were you thinking the same thing as Thoreau? The author, who could be recognized with his sad, doe eyes, would represent the antithesis of the millennials. They couldn't live without the gadgets that keep them in a perpetual state of distraction. The silence would make the likes of Thoreau understand the principles governing human lives. It had something to do with the humble setting, as well as the splendid view of the lake during the winter season.
It's time to bring out that small notebook. Thoreau's quote on "marching to the beat of your own drum" would be sufficient. You must have an idea of the author's choice of words. (Freedom would be one of those words. You may expect a figure of speech, but there won't be any need for archaic words.) It won't be hard to spot a contrast, where words such as ALTHOUGH would be used a bit frequently. Go through a text slowly, as this could reveal a new idea unseen before.
Take note of the following. This exercise won't validate what Thoreau thought during those lonesome years at Walden Pond. It would be a given. Students must be able to think of other scenarios. Could Thoreau arrive at the same conclusions if he traveled around New England? Would it be different if he ventured into the Wild West? How about the South? These places offer a different set of experiences, which would change his perception. Then again, it should be hard to make a comparison then and now. Thoreau may be an ideal, honorable chap, but he may be thrilled about shamelessly promoting one's works through social media.
Pay Attention to This When Writing Your Analytical Essay
You need someone to read your essays. It will help you see what you've overlooked while composing the draft. A constructive criticism can go a long way.
Keep on reading your essays, as there's a tendency that it can turn out differently. It's not uncommon among writers. Blame it on creative juices.
Invite your coursemates for a gathering, where you can engage on brainstorming for an hour or two. It doesn't have to be related to the assignment, as doing it for fun may lead to a Eureka moment. It would be better late than never.
You may (or may not) compose an outline of your analytical essay, but doing so can save you lots of trouble.
Remember that an analytical essay involves a great deal of persuasion, so you might as well study the basics (of writing a persuasive paper).