6 junio, 2024

Literary essay: concept, characteristics, parts, types, examples

We explain what a literary essay is, its characteristics, parts it has, the types that exist and we give examples.

What is a literary essay?

He literary essay It is a discursive genre that aims to defend an idea or a point of view; likewise, it seeks to analyze and interpret a given topic based on logical reasoning. It is considered literary because it has an aesthetic value that is reflected in its style and in the way of using language.

Several authors affirm that a literary essay belongs to a hybrid genre; This happens because its execution requires an aesthetic dimension, but it also needs logical reasoning to expose its themes and ideas. That is to say: literary essays are a union between logical analysis and aesthetic creation.

In addition, literary essays are considered personal and didactic testimonies, where the writer can reflect from his subjectivity and use arguments to defend his criteria and convince readers of his position.

At present, literary essays are considered as important artistic works and valuable analytical texts. Among the most famous are elm pears of Octavio Paz; Fragments of a loving speechby Roland Barthes The monsters and the critics, by JRR Tolkien and other inquisitionsby Jorge Luis Borges.

Characteristics of the literary essay

Literary essays have the following characteristics:

Link between logical reasoning and artistic subjectivity

Literary essays combine creative elements with logical structures; for this reason they are considered to be hybrid texts that unite reasonable arguments with the refined and artistic use of language.

They are reflective texts with sustained ideas

A literary essay is much more than an opinion or a comment; This happens because all the ideas that are expressed in this type of text are supported by research, quotes or arguments. That is, literary essays are not mere assumptions, since they require research, reading and reasoning.

fluent command of language

Literary essays are characterized by intertwining ideas in a coherent way, which allows their reading to be fluid. Some authors claim that writing a literary essay is similar to creating music, since in both cases there must be a logical composition.

Likewise, the tests are characterized by the proper use of the connectors; these are linguistic units used to link two or more ideas. For example: in addition, because, therefore, consequently, given that, among others. The connectors are those that allow the essay to be structured in a harmonious way.

Parts of the literary essay

The parts of an essay can vary depending on the interests and style of the writer. However, it can be established that a literary essay has the following structure:

1. Introduction

In this part, the author makes a brief introduction where he places the thesis that he wishes to develop or the theme that he will address during the essay. In the same way, in this section the writer can specify the methodology that he will use or the texts and works that he will analyze next.

2. Development

In the development of the essay, the writer describes the data that he has found; Said description can be accompanied by personal appreciations.

Subsequently, the author analyzes the content and establishes arguments that support his perspective; for this he can place quotes from the works he chose to analyze or arguments from other recognized writers that agree with his point of view.

3. Conclusions

Finally, the author places his final appreciations. In them he can summarize the arguments presented above as a conclusion, he can also put how the writing process was, the bibliography he consulted, the acknowledgments, among others.

Types of literary essays

According to their theme, the essays can be classified as:

literary essays on poetry

In these essays, the writers carry out an analysis of the poetic works or the poetic feeling. An example of a literary essay of this type can be The bow and the lyreby Octavio Paz. In this text, Paz analyzes the place that poetry has occupied throughout history and its importance in people’s lives.

literary essays on novels

They are essays whose purpose is to analyze and interpret the novels. This type of essay is widely used in schools and universities, since generally teachers assign the reading of an important work (such as Don Quijote of La Mancha) so that later the students carry out a critical essay where they place their interpretation of said work.

Literary essays on the exercise of writing

In these essays, the authors reflect on the writer’s task. Therefore, they analyze literary styles and the use of language; they also place opinions on the role played by the figure of the writer in society. This is seen in essays such as Pen, pencil and poison, by Oscar Wilde or The writer and his ghostsby Ernesto Sabato.

Literary essays on philosophy

There are also literary essays that are focused on analyzing philosophical or epistemological positions. They are considered literary because they use a refined and aesthetic language; that is, they demonstrate a concern for the style of writing. This is seen in the test Beyond Good and Evilby Friedrich Nietzsche.

mixed literary essays

They are those that unite two or more different topics. For example: it can be a literary essay that talks about literature and history; it could also be about poetry and music or novels and their historical-social context.

How to do a literary essay?

Literary essays are in high demand in the classroom, as well as in some creative jobs (writers, editors, among others). Here are some steps that can be followed if you want to write a literary essay:

1. Selection of the topic to be discussed

The first step is to select the theme that you want to analyze and interpret in the essay. To do this, it is recommended to be precise and accurately delimit the focus that the text will have; in this way ramblings are avoided.

For example: if you want to write an essay on modern poetry, it is advisable to choose a certain group of works and authors; By having the topics delimited, you will have more clarity and fluency when writing.

2. Research and documentation

After selecting the topic, the research process begins. Properly documented ensures that the essay offers a fresh and well-supported perspective; For this reason, it is recommended to consult different sources and read other essays that have addressed similar topics.

3. Preliminary scheme

Before starting to write, it is necessary to make an outline or sketch that serves as a guide during the writing of the essay. This allows you to write more naturally and also avoids wandering; In addition, it allows maintaining an order in the structure of the text.

4. Writing

Finally, you can proceed with writing the essay, taking into account the sketch that was made previously. Although the text may have subjective appreciations, it is important that the essay follow a logical order and use properly supported arguments. When the writing is finished, it is recommended to reread the essay several times until a satisfactory version is obtained.

literary essay examples

1. Pen, pencil and poisonOscar Wilde

“Often, people reproach writers and artists for being only men of action in an imperfect and incomplete way. And yet, it is very normal for it to be so. That concentration of thought, that vehement ardor that characterizes the artist’s temperament, forcefully excludes other qualities. For those who live preoccupied with the beauty of form, there is nothing else in the world of any real importance.

However, exceptions to that rule abound. As for Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, the subject of this brief study, despite his highly artistic temperament, he had, in addition to art, many other teachers and he was not content just to be a poet, art critic, antiquarian, prose writer, amateur to everything beautiful and tasty to everything delicious, but he was also a counterfeiter of prodigious skill and a subtle and mysterious poisoner, perhaps without a rival at any time.»

2. elm pearsOctavio Paz

“Since Pedro Henríquez Ureña pointed out that the distinctive notes of Mexican sensibility were moderation, melancholy, love of neutral tones, opinions on the character of our poetry tend almost unanimously to repeat, underline or enrich these statements.

The introverted Mexican has created a sober, intelligent and sharp poetry, which flees from the glare as much as from the cry and which, far from speech and confession, shies away, when delivered, in confidence. A poetry that prefers the sigh to the sob, the smile to the outburst, to the nocturnal shadow and to the meridian light the shades of twilight. Neither sentimental nor sensitive: sensitive.”

Themes of interest

Literary essay.

Scientific essay.

How to do an essay.

Parts of an essay.

List of topics for essays.


Peace, O. (1984) elm pears. Recovered from Editorial Oveja Negra.
SA (nd) Rehearsal. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org
SA (nd) How to write a literary analysis essay. Retrieved from bucks.edu
SA (nd) Writing perfect literary analysis: outline, essay structure. Recovered from essaydragon.com
Valencia, J. (2012) The essay: concept, characteristics, composition. Retrieved from Redalyc.org
Wilde, O. (1999) Essays and articles. Recovered from Editorial Collection culture.

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