Useful Guide for College Students on How to Analyze a Novel

Analyzing a novel is a perfect task for students who are addicted to reading books. Meanwhile, many beginners make a lot of mistakes in a novel analysis. Sometimes, students don’t like the novel they have to write about, or this novel can be hard to analyze. In this case, only professional literature critics can reveal the main ideas of the book and the many aspects the author includes.

In our guide, we created simple steps to help you avoid issues and make the analysis process enjoyable.

How to Analyze a Novel

Photo from Depositphotos

1. Read a novel professionally

This is the first step that you can approach for an effective novel analysis. Professional reading means you have to write down any essential moments from the novel. By taking notes on every chapter, you will collect crucial information you can reveal in your essay.
If the novel doesn’t have chapters, you can divide it by the most influential character’s actions and events. These imaginary sections will be the basis of your further research on the novel.

2. Analyze characters

There are two main types of characters in any book: protagonist and antagonist. If the protagonist is looking for a way to create something, the antagonist wants to destroy everything on their path. This is what builds conflict and keeps a story interesting in any novel.

This step can help you to be like a psychologist, because you will be analyzing the minds of your characters. Even if these persons are fictional, they can help you to focus on the world around them. Describe how they behave, what they wear, and imagine their dialogues in real life. By analyzing both main characters from a book, you can understand what the author wants to say through their behaviors.

3. Engage in the plot

Become a detective and fix the chronological sequence of the novel. Sometimes authors hide secrets in the plot. When you remember a significant event that has an impact on the characters, you can write it down and analyze later.

If you are already a professional reader and experienced psychologist, this step reveals your “sixth sense.” It helps you to understand what the author wants to say with the exact situation and why it happens at a certain moment of the novel.

4. Stick to the details

Analyzing the descriptions, epithets, metaphors, irony, and other literary devices will be helpful in this step of your research. Every author has a unique style of writing, so it can answer questions in analyzing the story.

In your analysis of the novel, you can compare the ways different authors work with the same subject. For example, Erich Maria Remarque and Ernest Hemingway write in their novels about love and war, but they have different views on these subjects.

Mention it in your literary work, and your novel analysis example will impress everyone in the class.

5. Note the importance of the setting

The setting is the environment where the events take place in the story. The description of the setting plays an important role in analyzing a novel. For example, in “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, the setting is as important as the main character. If the author chose another place than the North Carolina coast, the reader wouldn’t feel the transformations that happened to Kya Clark.

The marsh hides many mysteries, as does Kya. She is not properly treated by the society in which she lives. People call her Marsh Girl, so she has to cover her life from others’ eyes. She is a multifaceted personality, but even a swamp passes through transformations that do not go unnoticed. This is one of the important steps every student can take when they want to find out how to analyze a novel and be confident in their result.

With these five tips, you can easily find the themes and ideas of any literary composition. Remember, the main point of a great literary analysis is that every novel analysis example is unique. This work is just your individual vision of the composition, and remember to insert your own interpretation of what you’ve read.

We hope these five steps will help students on how to analyze a novel and have a positive experience in working with literary compositions.