Analyze a theme in the work.
Is there a recurring or significant object or idea?
Analyze the plot.
What are the conflicts?
How do events connect to each other?
Do some events foreshadow others?
Does the writer offer a lesson to be learned or a way of looking at life or the world?
Is this personal to the author? Is the author responding to some event he or she experienced or recalling some past moment?
Who is the protagonist?
Who is the antagonist?
Consider their behavior, how they are described, what they say, and how all this fits into the plot or theme of the work or its setting.
Do the characters change or stay the same?
Analyze the structure of the work.
Is it chronological?
Is there foreshadowing?
Is there symmetry? If so what is the purpose of the symmetry.
Analyze the narrator.
Who is telling the story?
What is the narrator’s tone or attitude?
Look at the genre of the work.
Is it a play (tragedy or comedy), a short story, a novel, or a poem?
How does this work compare to others of its type?
Does it blend several genres of literature?
Analyze the work in terms of gender.
How does the work portray women or men?
Is the author exploiting or exploring gender stereotypes?
How does it define their roles in the family? in society? in the workplace?
Analyze the work in terms of class or social hierarchies.
To what social class or classes do the characters belong?
Is the author exploiting or exploring social or racial stereotypes?
Adapted from: Harris, Muriel. Prentice Hall Reference Guide. 6th ed. Upper Saddler River, NJ: Purdue University, 2006.