Skip to main content
Humanities Libertexts

3.5: Text Analysis

  • Page ID
    7142
  • [ "article:topic" ]

    This is the second section of a long critical analysis. This section of your analysis will be much shorter, but will require two things that the first section did not: the use of new terms in your writing and some searching to find out what each term means.

    The first and most important resource will be your dictionary. Look up terms that are new to you here, and look up any words in your reading selection that are not clear to you. Your instructor will provide alternative sources for information you may need in addition to your dictionary.

    This section includes three patterns:

    Pattern 1: Text Strategies

    Pattern 2: Patterns

    Pattern 3: Literary Perspectives

    Text Strategies

    What are Text Strategies?

    Text strategies are those word combinations, repetitions, references, and so on, that an author uses to affect the way a reader responds to the work. You might know them as "literary devices" or "poetic devices." Most text strategies involve figurative language (metaphor, personification, allusion, imagery, alliteration, irony, juxtaposition, paradox, ellipsis, simile, synecdoche – look each of these words up), word order (syntax), sounds, visual spaces, and repetition. The reason they are used is to cause you to react somehow to what is said, or how it is said.

    Prompts

    1. What are the major text strategies used in this work?
    2. What is an example of each one (from the selection or work you chose)?
    3. What effect does each seem to have on my understanding of the work?

    Template

    Text Strategies

    [Insert author’s last name] uses [insert a list of text strategies that the author uses from the list below] in this selection. For example, he refers to [something or someone] figuratively as [whatever he compares or describes in figurative language]. He also uses [insert a particular text strategy term] when he says, “[insert a quoted example].” Next, he uses [same pattern as above]. Finally, he uses [same pattern as above]. I think he uses these particular strategies because [insert your best guess as to why he or she seems to use these text strategies].

    Tutorial

    How to answer the prompts

    This is a two-step process:

    First, look up each of the figurative language terms and devices below and make sure you understand what each is (your instructor should present a lesson of some kind on these terms).

    Second, go through the whole reading/selection you chose to analyze and underline as many examples of the strategies as you can. Label and circle as many example strategies in your selection as you can find.

    Step 1: Look up terms

    Work in groups to find and record in your own words what each term below means (with an example) in the spaces provided:

    Write a definition after each term below. Write an example (from the work you are analyzing if possible) of each term in the space provided:

    Figurative language

    Definition:


    Example:


    Literal language

    Definition:


    Example:


    Metaphor

    Definition:


    Example:


    Personification

    Definition:


    Example:


    Allusion

    Definition:


    Example:


    Imagery

    Definition:


    Example:


    Alliteration

    Definition:


    Example:


    Irony

    Definition:


    Example:


    Juxtaposition

    Definition:


    Example:


    Paradox

    Definition:


    Example:


    Ellipsis

    Definition:


    Example:


    Simile

    Definition:


    Example:


    Synecdoche

    Definition:


    Example:


    Syntax

    Definition:


    Example:


    Sounds

    Definition:


    Example:


    Visual spaces

    Definition:


    Example:


    Repetition

    Definition:


    Example:


    Step 2: Find examples in your selection

    Now, go through the whole reading/selection you chose to analyze and underline as many examples of the above strategies as you can. Label and circle as many example strategies in your selection as you can find.

    Seeing Patterns

    What are Patterns?

    One of the primary features of literature is that it takes advantage of the tendency of speakers of English to see patterns and to hear rhythm in language. Sometimes authors try to shake up our expectations of what "good" or "natural" patterns/rhythms should be, and other times they match our expectations.

    Prompts

    1. How can I describe the way my selection is composed or divided, using the terms below?
    2. What seems to be the reason(s) the selection is divided this way?
    3. How many paragraphs in the selection, and how large and small are they by sections?
    4. What seems to be the reason(s) for length and size variations?
    5. How are the patterns in sections repeated?
    6. How are words or phrases repeated in each section?
    7. How are words, phrases, and/or patterns repeated throughout the selection?
    8. What is particularly striking, unexpected, or unusual about any of the patterns in the selection?

    Template

    Patterns

    The larger pattern that [insert author’s last name] uses includes [list as many from the list above as you can see]. For example, he [insert an example, like he describes and then tell what he describes]. He also uses [insert another pattern name and tell how it is used]. He also uses [insert another pattern name and tell how it is used]. I think he chooses these particular patterns because [insert why you think he uses these patterns – remember, this is speculation based on what you have read and written about this selection so far].

    Draft

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\):

    Patterns

    The larger pattern that Chief Joseph uses includes repetition, description, and listing. For example, he repeats words for death at the end of 8 sentences, and there are only 16 sentences altogether. He also uses description details to differentiate “our” chiefs, the “old” men, the “young” men, the “little” children, “he who led on” the young men, “my” people, and so on. He also uses listing to emphasize the completeness of his despondency. I think he chooses these particular patterns because the contrast between the repetition, listing, and description of the first 15 sentences and the sweep and scope of the 16th and final sentence is utterly dramatic.

    Tutorial

    How to answer the prompts

    How do I write about Patterns?

    Read your work all the way through again. This time, pay attention to patterns (description, dialogue, explanations, information, examples, support, evidence, critiques, anecdotes, scenes, for example, and so on). Note how these kinds of patterns are arranged in the whole work. Note, too, what kind of overall framework or structure is established by what kinds of patterns are used.

    One of the primary features of poetry is that it takes advantage of the tendency of speakers of English to see patterns and to hear rhythm in language. Sometimes authors try to shake up our expectations of what "good" or "natural" patterns/rhythms should be, and other times they match our expectations. The primary concept or strategy an author uses for patterns/rhythm is repetition.

    If you are analyzing a poem, pay attention to other patterns (number of lines per section, number of sections, number of words per line, location of key words - beginning or end of lines, for example, and so on). Note how these kinds of patterns are arranged in the whole poem. Note too what kind of rhythm is established by what kind of repetition is used: words that sound alike, long/short words or lines, syllables, pauses, spaces, other sounds, and so on. Also please note the word order; poems are notorious for using unusual word order.

    What steps do I take?

    First, work in groups to define each of the following pattern terms in your own words and create an example for each:

    Second, answer the above questions – use the prose questions for a work of prose or the poetry questions with a poem – with at least one complete sentence each (the more the better).

    Note

    Describe patterns in your own words, but use the terms below in your answers.

    Description

    Definition:


    Example:


    Dialogue

    Definition:


    Example:


    Explanations

    Definition:


    Example:


    Information

    Definition:


    Example:


    Examples

    Definition:


    Example:


    Support

    Definition:


    Example:


    Evidence

    Definition:


    Example:


    Critiques

    Definition:


    Example:


    Anecdotes

    Definition:


    Example:


    Scenes

    Definition:


    Example:


    Claims

    Definition:


    Example:


    Archetype

    Definition:


    Example:


    Themes

    Definition:


    Example:


    Polarities

    Definition:


    Example:


    Characters

    Definition:


    Example:


    Symbols

    Definition:


    Example:


    Literary Perspectives

    Writing from Literary Perspectives

    Literary analysis of a text is looking at a selection from a perspective that assumes the text is an object of study. For perspectives that assume a text to be an object of study (a very common perspective), analysis requires that we look “in” the text for specific features, forms, or patterns. These features include (but are not limited to) archetypes, which are situations, characters, images, and the like that are patterned after ones with which most of us are familiar (damsel in distress, good guy, villain, etc.) and tend to cut across cultures and time; structure, which is how patterns are deployed and arranged in a text; connections among the words in a text and among other texts; relationships among the devices and other patterns (that help a text “hang together” as a complete work); “underlying” ideas in a given text; and so on.

    Answer all the following prompts with at least one complete sentence each (the more the better). Put your sentences together in a paragraph or two (or as many as you need).

    Prompts

    1. What are the archetypal images manifested in the selection?
    2. How do they relate to a particular culture and environment?
    3. What are reoccurring themes within the selection?
    4. What are polarities within the selection?
    5. What are reoccurring situations or patterns within the selection?
    6. What are symbols within the selection?
    7. What are characters within the selection?
    8. Do themes, polarities, characters, or symbols exist; are they real?
    9. What words in the selection give clues to when, where, how, and why the selection was written?
    10. What underlying messages or ideas are suggested by the construction of the words, sentences, ideas, etc.?

    Template

    Literary Perspectives

    The primary archetypal image in this selection is [insert a statement indicating what you believe is the main image (or character type that everyone will recognize) from this selection]. This image reminds me of [insert a statement indicating how these images relate to a particular culture and environment]. This image also reminds me of the theme [insert a statement indicating what themes this image brings to mind]. The image of [insert the character type or archetype that you stated originally] also contrasts with [insert a phrase that indicates something opposite to the archetypal image] as a polarity or opposite idea. The same image connects to the image of [insert a similar or connecting image or character from the selection] in this selection. This image might also symbolize or stand for [insert a statement that indicates what you think this archetype symbolizes]. The person or character in this selection who embodies this idea is [insert a statement that indicates who you think this archetype symbolizes – if different – from the selection]. I think these ideas, images, and themes exist mainly [where? in the author’s mind? in history? in certain people? (who?)]. The underlying ideas suggested by the archetypal image in this selection include [insert a statement that indicates what underlying or unstated messages the author is trying to “push” towards the reader].

    Draft

    Example \(\PageIndex{2}\):

    Literary Perspectives

    The primary archetypal image in this selection is that of a valiant warrior who has lost his battles, his war, his culture, his people, and life as he knows it. This image reminds me of the way Native Americans have been portrayed as “Noble Savages.” This image also reminds me of the theme of struggle among people for the dominance of their own way of life. The image of the valiant warrior who loses everything in spite of his goodness also contrasts with the notion most of us have that good overcomes evil as a polarity or opposite idea. The same image connects to the image of the people of Chief Joseph who “have run away to the hills” in this selection. This image might also symbolize or stand for the idea that life just is not fair. The person or character in this selection who embodies this idea is of course Chief Joseph. I think these ideas, images, and themes exist mainly in the everyday existence and struggle that we all have to endure in order to survive. The underlying ideas suggested by the archetypal image in this selection include the notion that fighting until the “bitter end” may not be worth it, even though it is a very romantic idea. Chief Joseph lost his entire world and everything in it.

    • Was this article helpful?