How to write an English Literature Essay

The complete guide to writing a 2:1 standard university essay

What if you had to mark your own essay? What if you were tired and had read fifty essays already that day? At the heart of writing a good English Literature essay is readability.

The second important point to bear in mind when writing your English Literature essay is planning. Don’t start writing without a goal or an idea of the key points to cover:

These are all practical questions and suggestions that will not only help you write a good essay, but also keep you from drowning in a sea of words and ideas. Of course, it doesn’t matter if you want to change direction or modify your argument once you have begun, but it’s helpful to start out with an idea of where you’re going.




Structure

Paragraphs:

Flow:

Argument:

Literary Techniques

Bear in mind that an English Literature essay should show your love of words and language. Remember to look out for and make interesting points about literary uses of sibilance, onomatopoeia, anaphora, alliteration etc. This is especially relevant, but not exclusive to, writing about poetry.

Referencing

Quotations

You must at all times ensure that quotes are woven into the body of your English Literature essay.

E.g. When King Lear appears at the end of the play, carrying Cordelia’s body, he can only ‘howl’ with grief at the ‘men of stone’ whom he is confronted by.

a) Get accused of plagiarism
b) Confuse your reader


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