A Detailed Body Paragraph Outline for a Critical Analytical Response to Literature Essay

"A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out." ~ Virginia Woolf

"In effect I am not a novelist, but rather a failed essayist who started to write novels because he didn't know how to write essays." ~ Jose Saramago

"The essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything" ~ Aldous Huxley

"An essay is a work of literary art which has a minimum of one anecdote and one universal idea." ~ Carol Bly

Many high school English teachers struggle to help students write a critical analytical response to literature body paragraph of an essay.

Many English teachers give this incomplete outline for a body paragraph:

  1. Topic Sentence
  2. Point
  3. Proof
  4. Explain

By giving students this type of incomplete and incorrect body paragraph outline, students will not write a proper body paragraph, in fact students will be hampered in their essay writing process.

Here is a detailed Body Paragraph Outline for a Critical Analytical Response to Literature

Topic Sentence:

  • This sentence should clearly state the main point of your paragraph and connect it back to your thesis statement


  • Provide brief context for the evidence you will discuss, such as the relevant part of the story or the author’s argument.


  • Introduce a specific example from the text (quote, paraphrase, or summary) that supports your topic sentence.
  • Briefly explain how this evidence relates back to your topic sentence.


  • Go beyond simply summarizing the evidence.
  • Analyze the evidence in detail, considering:
    • Literary devices used (e.g., symbolism, imagery, metaphor)
    • Character development or motivations
    • Thematic connections
    • Author's purpose or style
  • Explain how the analysis of this evidence strengthens your overall argument.


  • Briefly connect your analysis back to your thesis statement, reiterating how this specific point supports your larger claim about the text.


  • You can also consider including a counter-argument or opposing viewpoint in this section. Briefly acknowledge it and explain why your main argument remains stronger.

Transition Sentence:

  • This sentence should smoothly transition you to the next point in your essay, which could be another body paragraph or your conclusion.

Remember, each body paragraph should focus on a single point or piece of evidence and thoroughly analyze it in relation to your thesis.

Keep your analysis focused and directly related to the literature you’re discussing.

More from Numerous Narratives
All posts