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Literature Essays

Literature essays can be daunting for a number of reasons. For example, they require you to carry out a great deal of both primary and secondary research (i.e. close reading and analysis of the texts themselves, alongside the reading and interpretation of critical articles and books by literary critics and theorists). This, in turn, often results in the use of many long quotations which all have to be perfectly referenced for you to gain the best marks.

The most important thing to remember when faced with including both primary and secondary quotations in your literature essays is to only use them to support your argument. You should never base your argument around something that a theorist has said, because you will get zero points for originality. First off for essays about literature, decide on the main points that you want to make. Then it's time to select short but powerful quotations from the literary text(s) your essay is based on, and analyze them thoroughly, ensuring that you clearly demonstrate how their presence in the text supports your argument. Only then is it time to bring in secondary quotations, which you are free to either agree or disagree with.

Many students are afraid to argue against the points made by respected academics and theorists, but it is the ability to do this that will make your essay on literaturest and out from the crowd. It is very important to remember that your literature essay has no right or wrong answer; you can argue pretty much anything you like as long as you are able to back it up convincingly with solid supporting evidence. As a guideline, for a 2000 word essay, you want to think about utilizing at least five secondary sources, and disagreeing with something that at least one of the critics has said. One very interesting way of using secondary sources is to find two critics who disagree over a certain point, and argue (providing the necessary evidence) why you are inclined to believe that one of them is correct. Many online essay writing services can give you the opportunity to see how this can be done effectively.

This often brings us onto the question of how much of your own personality to include in your essay. A very common question asked by students is "can I use 'I' in my essays?". If you were to ask ten different academics this very question, you would probably get a variety of different (and opposing) answers. The safest option, however, is to avoid using 'I' in your literature essays if you can. In an essay written by you, the reader knows that what you have written is your interpretation, so there is no need to explicitly tell them that these are your ideas. Furthermore, using phrases such as "I think" may actually weaken your argument, because you are not arguing with confidence. Never tell your reader that something is simply a possibility, or that the writer "could mean" something. If you have faith in your own argument, then the marker will too.

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