How to Write an Analytical Essay: 
An A to Z Guide

analytical essay
  • Last Edited: March 2, 2018

Many students have to write an analytical essay at some point in their academic careers.  Usually these essays focus on an issue, a study, a film or a work of literature.  They give the student an opportunity to dissect both the medium and the work presented in that medium.  Of course, as Wordsworth said, “We murder to dissect.”  Nonetheless, if you’re going to kill it, go for the jugular. In this article, we’ll discuss how to write an analytical essay and give you everything you need to know from A to Z.

What is an Analytical Essay?

An analytical essay is an essay that conducts an in-depth analysis of a particular work by another author.  It could be an essay, a story, a novel, an article, a film, a research paper, or a speech:  your job is to analyze it, examine its parts, discuss the work from multiple levels and give the reader a new way to think about it.

You’ll typically want to approach the work from a particular standpoint or by way of a theory that will help you to make sense of the various parts of the subject.  So declare your point of view, theoretical approach, or method of analysis up front.  That way your reader knows exactly where you’re coming from.

Then get rolling with your analysis.

How to Start an Analytical Essay

Start your essay by getting to know your subject.  Take some time to read it or view it.  Go over it again and again until you are completely familiar with what it is doing.

Now think about how you want to approach it in your essay.  What elements do you want to bring to the foreground?  What argument do you want to make about it?  Take its organic material and analyze it from an appropriate perspective.  Decide upon the point of view that makes the most sense and then sketch an outline of the main points that you’ll want to address.

We’ll discuss how to do your outline a little bit later on.  For now, all that matters is that you identify the key points of evidence within the work itself so that you can use these to support your argument later on.  Remember:  your argument is your thesis, and the body of the essay should support it at every step of the way.

Analytical Essay Introduction

The first step is to introduce your subject—i.e., that which you will be analyzing.  If it is a novel, give some quick background info on it.  If it is a work of art, set the context.  If it is a scholarly article, describe it briefly.  Your analysis is going to focus on specific pieces of evidence found within the work itself.  At the end of your introduction, state your thesis.  Your thesis should be succinct and should let the reader know exactly what your analysis is going to do.

Analytical Essay Thesis

The thesis statement is the bull’s eye of your paper.  It is the one thing the reader is aiming to get out of your introduction.  Everything in your opening should lead to your thesis, which is your main idea—your main point, your main argument—the thing you are trying to show or prove through your analysis.  Your thesis statement should be explicit and tell the reader what you are going to do in your paper and how you are going to do it.

Analytical Essay Conclusion

Think of your paper as a fortress of facts, upon which are placed your arguments—the arsenal you will use.  The analysis is the method by which your arsenal becomes effective.  The opening of the paper is the main gate into the fortress.  The body of your essay is the tour around the fortress walls.  The conclusion of the essay is the gate out the back.  It resembles the introduction in that it reminds the visitor of what has been seen and summarizes it or encapsulates it in a few words.  The conclusion can list the main points made in the analysis and tell again how these points support the thesis.

Analytical Essay Format

Organizing an analytical essay is one of the most important steps to writing the paper.  The format to use for this type of essay can range from the simple 5 paragraph essay format to a longer essay format in which headings and sub-headings are used to break up the paper into sections.  Either method is appropriate.  The one you choose will be based on the scope of your essay.

If you’re writing a short essay, go with the basic 5 paragraph format:  this means starting off with an introduction, having three body paragraphs—each one focusing on a single point that supports the thesis, and closing up with a conclusion that reiterates the main idea of the paper.  If you’re writing a longer essay, you’ll want the same intro and conclusion—but the body of your paper can be divided into sections, with each section consisting of multiple paragraphs that will support the main point of that section (and each section supporting the main idea or thesis of the paper).

Analytical Essay Outline

The outline for your analytical essay should provide you with the bare bones for the paper.  Use Roman numerals to identify the purpose of each section of the paper and use sub-points to give more details about these sections.  Typically, you can use the 3-point outline (Intro, Body, Conclusion) or the 5-point outline (Intro, 3 Body Paragraphs, Conclusion) to set up your outline.  Here’s a skeleton of a 5-point outline that you could easily adapt to fit your needs:

I.  Introduction

a.  Hook

i.  Opening Statement that catches the reader’s attention.

ii.  This could be a fact or a question that introduces the topic of the paper.

b.  Background Information

i.  Provides context for the subject that will be analyzed in the paper.

ii.  Connects the hook to the thesis statement that concludes the intro.

c.   Thesis Statement

i.  This is the main idea of the paper.

ii.  It tells what the essay will do and how it will do it.

II.  First Main Point

a.  Focuses on some aspect of the subject that relates to the thesis.

b.  The point is supported by evidence from primary or secondary sources.

c.  The paragraph leads into the next point with a transition.

III.  Second Main Point

a.  Focuses on some aspect of the subject that relates to the thesis.

b.  The point is supported by evidence from primary or secondary sources.

c.  The paragraph leads into the next point with a transition.

IV.  Third Main Point

a.  Focuses on some aspect of the subject that relates to the thesis.

b.  The point is supported by evidence from primary or secondary sources.

c.  The paragraph leads into the conclusion with a transition.

V.  Conclusion

a.  Reiterates the main idea of the essay.

b.  Summarizes the points analyzed in the paper.

c.  Briefly states how these points support the main idea.

Outline Example

I.  Introduction

a.  State of current economy

b.  Why things are bleak

c.  Why the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy and the federal government’s loose fiscal policy has doomed markets

II.  “Behind the Curve” in Monetary Policy

a.  Fed has artificially suppressed interest rates for too long

b.  Inflation is up on a weaker USD

c.  As the Fed hikes rates, investors will adopt a risk-off strategy and flee equities that are already at all-time highs

III.  Fiscal Policy: Too Much Debt

a.  With the government set to issue more bonds to fund Trump’s infrastructure stimulus, the bond market bubble is set to pop

b.  If yields rise, investors will flee equities

c.  Inflation may already be too hot

IV.  Trade Wars and Crypto

a.  Tariffs

b.  Markets in turmoil

c.  The rise of crypto as the ultimate hedge/bypass of government fiat

V.  Conclusion

a.  The economy is set for a rude awakening

b.  The Fed has been too loose and the government has acquired too much debt

c.  The rest of the world will seek alternative ways to invest its wealth

Analytical Essay Topics

  • Is obesity a health problem or is it a form of body shaming?
    • Analyze the approaches to the issue of weight gain and develop an argument one way or another.
  • Is vitamin C an effective way to combat cancer?
    • The pharmaceutical industry and its front company the FDA might disagree, but there are plenty of scientists and doctors who have acknowledged that a little vitamin C goes a long way.
  • Could Russian hypersonic missiles really get past NORAD?
    • With advances in technology accelerating at an exponential pace, this issue is worth analyzing because it is one that impacts the safety and livelihood of all people.
  • What are the major themes that emerge in the works of the Coen Brothers?
    • The Coen Brothers have been making movies for decades and their body of work reveals certain, shall we say, preoccupations. What are these preoccupations and how can they best be interpreted?
  • Is Hamlet insane?
    • Hamlet goes through some serious issues on his way to avenging his father’s death. But does he ever actually lose his mind?  Analyze the play, pick apart scenes, and use supporting evidence to make your case.
  • Has America jumped the shark?
    • When the Fonz jumped the shark on Happy Days (literally), he gave the world the perfect metaphor for absolute ridiculousness. To what extent does this metaphor apply to the U.S.?
  • Why did Nietzsche turn against Wagner?
    • The former is known as a philosopher; the latter is known as a great composer. At one point, the two were simpatico—then it all went kablooey.  Analyze the relationship of these two unique individuals, study the texts that best illuminate their lives, and present your argument about just why Nietzsche went contra Wagner.
  • Is climate change a real thing or just a social, political and economic ploy to control populaces with ever more legislation?
    • Climate change is generally accepted by most leaders of the free world—but does that mean it’s actually a real thing? Look at the evidence, make up your own mind, and present the analysis in a paper.
  • Compare Orwell’s 1984 to today’s world.
    • Orwell envisioned a nightmare reality in which truth was suppressed for lies so that powerful players could control the narrative and funnel thinking people into their system of dehumanization. How well does it compare to today’s world?  Analyze the clues and draw a conclusion:  are we now living in Orwell’s 1984—or have we managed to keep it at bay for time being?
  • Should health care providers focus more on treating health issues or more on preventing them in the first place?
    • Preventive care can keep people healthy by promoting lifestyles and habits that are conducive to physical fitness and mental agility. If health care providers simply focus on treating patients instead of practicing preventive care, they may be missing out on a golden opportunity to truly make a difference in people’s lives.  Look at the data on how effective preventive care can be and provide an analysis on this subject.
  • Should marijuana be a schedule 1 narcotic?
    • Analyze the evidence regarding marijuana’s positive usage and its negative effects. Set the record straight with an analytical essay on this topic.
  • What is the effect of green spaces in urban areas?
    • Look at the data on how green spaces impact the mental health of people and write an analysis.
  • Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? What does the evidence say?
    • Maybe an apple by itself doesn’t do the trick, but what about healthy eating and exercise?

Analytical Essay Example

 

When the Central Planners Lose Control of the Economy

The U.S. has believed in the concept of the free market—but with the intervention of the central bank, the Federal Reserve, in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, the free market economy began to resemble a command economy.  In a command economy, the markets and prices are determined and set by the centralized authority in order to promote stability and confidence in the market place.  When the economy collapsed following the bursting of the Housing Bubble in the U.S., the Fed intervened with monetary policy that became known as quantitative easing (QE).  In combination with the federal government’s fiscal policy of propping up a variety of industries through bailouts and loans, QE gave markets a superficial boost for several years with its bond and securities purchasing program (Corsi & Sornette, 2014).  With the Fed set to begin tightening and raising rates, many are wondering whether the market is truly strong enough to stand on its own.  This paper will show why without the props of the central planners, the economy is heading for the gutter.

With trillions in printed fiat flooded into the markets since 2008, the spillover from treasuries to equities has been seen as one of the great bull market runs in stock market history.  In fact, in 2017 there was not a single down month for the S&P 500.  No matter what happened, equities kept rising and P/E ratios kept going with them—to all time highs.  This led to some calling it an overpriced equities market.  However, rising prices could also be seen in a number of other places as well—commodities like oil, gold and silver; real estate; rents, health care, education, food costs, and so on:  everything was going higher in price (FRED, 2018).  What was causing it?  One word:  inflation.  When the central banks print money out of thin air and base it neither on labor nor a store of wealth like gold, the value of the money already in supply goes down.  In other words, the currency is devalued.  As a result, prices rise.  This is especially problematic for workers who are stuck with the same wage without an increase over the same amount of years.  The cost of living becomes more expensive, but their wage does not grow.

To stimulate the economy, Trump planned an economic stimulus investment that called on Congress to issue a trillion plus in more debt.  The intention may have been good, but the means to stimulate wage growth cannot be found in tax cuts and more debt.  Unless companies are willing to pay their workers a fair wage (a problem throughout all history) workers will always feel like they are just getting by.  With respect to the larger economy, the problem with adding more debt onto the government’s books is this:  with the Fed set to begin raising interest rates, servicing $20 trillion plus in government debt will become increasingly difficult.  As yields rise, investors will also flee risk-on assets like equities and move wealth into safe havens with a fixed return (Joyce, Lasaosa, Stevens & Tong (2011).  The rush out of equities markets could lead to a total collapse in value of the over-inflated stock market and bring the whole house of cards down—which is what would have happened in 2008, had the government not intervened.

But the government did intervene and through its proxy the Fed, it changed the economy from a free market economy into a command economy.  However, command economies eventually crumble—as the Soviet Union realized by the 1990s.  Market forces cannot be constrained, restrained, or manipulated for long:  eventually, the market—like nature—will assert itself (Corsi & Sornette, 2014).  And when it does, central planners should beware because their power and control can quickly vanish.  One need only look at the rise of cryptocurrencies in the past few years to realize that consumers and investors are already thinking outside the box and looking for a way to conduct business that does not rely on central planners and their fiat cash.  Cryptocurrency represents a rebuke to the command economies of the world.  When the Fed begins raising rates, those who have invested in alternative asset classes may just be the biggest winners.

In conclusion, the economy is heading right back to where it was in 2008 before the central planners intervened with a combination of loose fiscal and monetary policy that artificially kept interest rates low and propped up the markets through direct purchasing and inflation.  Now that the central planners are seeking a way to keep inflation in check, something will have to be done:  either increase wages, which businesses are not willing or able to do, or remove the props.  Once the props are removed, however, the market that was supported by the Fed will fall.

References

Corsi, F. & Sornette, D.  (2014). Follow the money: The monetary roots of bubbles and crashes. International Review of Financial Analysis32, 47-59.

FRED.  (2018).  Consumer price index for all urban consumers:  Medical care.  Retrieved from https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CPIMEDSL

Joyce, M., Lasaosa, A., Stevens, I., & Tong, M. (2011). The financial market impact of quantitative easing in the United Kingdom. International Journal of Central Banking, 7(3), 113-161.

Conclusion

The example outline and essay above should help you see how exactly how to write your own analytical essay.  If you’d like a personalized example for your own specific paper, order one online now:  our writers are standing by to provide you with a 100% customized, original model essay that you can use as a guide when you go to construct your own.  When we customize an order, we take your precise instructions, use the parameters you supply, research the topic, and write out a full paper with all parts, including a Works Cited page that shows where our info comes from, and deliver it straight to you.  Everyone learns better by example.  That’s why we’re here:  to help lead the way one model essay at a time.

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