How to Write a Reflection Paper in Classic English Literature: Theory Is Important

Writing guide
Posted on July 10, 2021

College professors of Classic English Literature say that most students like to write reflection papers. Finally, they can use first person singular (‘I’ sentences) and express their feelings and thoughts concerning some notions, events, personalities, and ideas. People often dislike being objective when describing something. Reflection allows everyone to be subjective and be not afraid to say what they think about the topic.
The University of Toronto provides a comparison of an average research paper and a reflection one. These are the basic distinctions.

Thing to Compare Reflection Paper Average Research paper
Structuring A presentation can vary depending on a person’s wish to stress something and integrate the main idea with personal experience 3 formal parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion to present and support a thesis statement + (if necessary) title page, abstract, reference page, appendix page, etc.
Thesis Statement A thesis statement aims at exploring or arguing something, though its formulation can be less formal A person provides a paper with an argument or claim and its idea is traced through the text
Viewpoint 1st person singular (I) or sometimes plural (We) Formal writing usually demands the presentation of the text in the 3rd person singular
Summarizing It seldom creates an impression of ‘full stop’. Its purpose is to point to knowledge gaps and connect or compare it with life experience or prior supposition(s) A writer restates the thesis statement and supports it with a general summarizing of the core idea. A paper can also provide a question or suggestion that needs further investigation

Consequently, a student should learn a theoretical part before proceeding to the writing. It is important to know what one must write and how the concrete paper differs from other academic papers. Students should study the requirements of their college to avoid mistakes and do everything right.

Reflection Paper in Classic English Literature: 7 Steps For a Start

Reflection papers belong to typical academic assignments for students who study Classic English Literature. It is the best way to see what different individuals think about the main characters, writers, ideas, and textual presentation. Students are free to support the writer or someone’s point of view regarding some literary masterpiece or argue against everything and everyone.

Professors adore this type of writing because it develops critical thinking and makes a person analyze and take in the literary work. To write a reflection paper, a student has to:

  • read prose or poetry
  • analyze classic
  • connect his or her experience and knowledge with the main idea/ characters/ events of the literary work
  • compare and contrast one’s assumptions at the beginning of the course and after its completion thorough analysis that resulted in a new and deeper comprehension of the discussed topic
  • explain how personal experience and knowledge helped in personal growth and understanding of problems and ways of their solution

Professionals from our paper writing service recommend writing a reflection paper in 7 steps.

Step 1. Topic

It will be impossible to reflect classic if one does not understand the topic of the assignment. Students are often lucky enough to get it ready. A college tutor asks a question and a student answers it with the help of reflection. Sometimes, students have to search for the topic individually. The best option is to investigate websites devoted to Classic English Literature like The Millions, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, and others. A person can find controversial articles there to write a reflection paper.

Step 2. Brainstorming

When a person brainstorms, he or she depicts a picture or a scheme to reflect knowledge on the topic. It helps to compare the already existing points of view and one’s understanding of the topic. Consequently, it will be easier to choose the side or approach. In other words, brainstorming accumulates everything in one place and leads a person to the required decision.

Step 3. Outline

If a businessman wants to open a restaurant, he or she will make a plan on its realization. A reflection paper needs a plan, too. Thanks to that, a student will be able to structure it and support each part with examples of personal experience or facts and citations. It will be great to formulate sentences or, at least, hints for each paragraph.

Step 4. Gaps

A person will not finish a paper if there are some knowledge gaps. An outline gives a structure and a person has to fill in the required information. One can cite papers, look for striking proverbs and lexical units, quote oneself, etc. One should not be surprised if the intended assumptions will change in the process of writing. That is how the reflection writing works. It helps to reexamine an individual’s attitude towards a topic.
NB! A person should take care of the introductory and concluding parts. They are to be impressive, catchy, and convincing!

Step 5. Questions

The most effective way to create a reflection paper is to ask oneself as many questions as possible. For example, “What did I feel when writing this?” or “How did it change me, my habits or my life?”

Step 6. Introduction

Finally, one can proceed to the writing of the body, conclusion, and introduction. Experts recommend writing an introduction in the end because reflection changes a person. Consequently, assumptions alter and a person will have to rewrite the introduction to make a paper sound logically.

Step 7. Requirements

A student must remember about college requirements. It concerns not only the topic and formatting but the volume as well. Professors set the limit a person should regard. An average reflection paper includes up to 3,5K (750 words). That is why a student should select each word carefully and fill every sentence with sense.

A paper in Classic English Literature belongs to an educational type of reflective academic papers. College requirements differ because a tutor may ask to write a reflection journal, response, essay, or any other paper. So, a student should be attentive to avoid silly mistakes.

How to Structure a Reflection Paper in Classic English Literature

As far as one can understand, students, who study Classic English Literature, are to write a reflection paper on the work of literature. Usually, a student has to do the following 6 things:

  1. Introduce the author (briefly)
  2. Retell a literary work laconically and reduce spoilers to a minimum
  3. Concentrate upon main events and characters
  4. Identify core ideas
  5. Speak about literary devices
  6. Reflect personal emotions and feelings connected with the analyzed literary work

Everything looks simple. Still, it often happens that students do it anyhow and neglect reflection. There are two approaches one can use when dealing with reflection papers.

  • Traditional: introduce a thesis statement in the introduction and develop its idea in the body and restate it in the conclusion;
  • Risky: begin with the conclusion but leave a space for doubts and guessing, develop the idea in the body, and provide a conclusion that differs from the initial one.

Nevertheless, a person has to keep to a structure that will assist in a logical flow of thoughts. Usually, a reflection paper in Classic English Literature includes such structural parts as an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.


Every paper starts with the introduction of the problem or purpose of the writing. An academic paper always presents a thesis statement in the introductory part to frame the message of the paper. Reflection is less strict because it orients on personal feelings and responses. It is better not to be sentimental and express oneself reasonably and precisely.
✔ present your insight and keep to the requirements of an academic style

✖ don’t make the text too emotional and casual

This part makes up to 10% of the whole volume of the paper. It must be laconic and informative. It can contain a reflective question that a person is going to answer in the body or, better, conclusion. Experts recommend presenting a thesis statement at the end of the introduction to frame the idea and value of the paper. A student should hook the attention of the target reader from the very beginning. He or she can apply questions, citations, proverbs, jokes, quotations, etc.


This part is the biggest one and needs several paragraphs to sound logical. Experienced students recommend dividing information into three paragraphs. The first must present the life experience of the writer and its impact on a student. The second one contrasts personal experience with the one presented in a book or a poem. The third paragraph presents the lesson the person has got.

It is recommended to cite the chosen book or other related thematically literary works. A person should also mention literary devices and the purpose of their use. For example, allusion gives a hint concerning the traits of character, situation, or a period in history. It means that a person should better hold a pencil when reading and mark everything that might help to analyze and reflect the text.


This part makes also up to 10% of the text (like the introduction). It is to be strong and convincing. The reader must understand that the writer’s ideas are deliberate. There must be an accent on the image of the student’s experience. Each word is to be influential. Moreover, the concluding part should provoke reflection in readers.

It is necessary to shed light on the key points of the paper. The last part persuades both the reader and the writer that the chosen approach or side was the right one. This part answers the reflection question presented in the introduction (if there is any).

How to Format and Edit a Reflection Paper

Professionals know that formatting is essential for colleges. Professors and tutors pay attention to it and lower grades in case of improper formatting. As a rule, a college demands A4 page size, double spacing, Arial or Times New Roman 12, and 1-inch margins.

Furthermore, a person has to format citations using the style required by the college(APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard) on the bibliography page. It is to be a list of sources in alphabetical order. Various online tools generate citations in a couple of seconds. A person just inserts names, publication dates, pages, and other things.

One can use apps and programs to improve the writing. These are tools that reflect the number of words and characters. Other tools highlight mistakes and offer ways that help to make the text better. Some apps point to cliches. Students benefit from the use of apps that scan papers and mirror the uniqueness of the paper. Plagiarism tarnish student’s reputation, so one should avoid it and increase the uniqueness of the papers if necessary.

Topics for Reflection Papers in Classic English Literature

Professors ask people to write reflection papers because they reveal their personalities. Thanks to that, tutors learn their students and know what to say to become their friends or authority who they can follow. The best way to provide a topic is to ask a reflective question. These are 5 sample topics that aim at involving students’ reflection.

  1. Do you consider Santiago’s catch worth suffering?
  2. Is Harry Potter a leader or a lucky boy whose magic talent is rather doubtful?
  3. Have you ever felt like Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”? Why?
  4. Our world is full of Dorian Grays, isn’t it?
  5. Would you like to live in a horror like Stephen King to become rich?

Students can agree or disagree with the offered problem. Nevertheless, it is important not to say just ‘yes’ or ‘no’. A student should read reviews and ask others about their attitude toward the problem. Moreover, one should express a personal point of view and connect it with life experience to stress the influence. One can also ask professors, tutors, or custom writing services to show a sample paper. That will help students understand how to write or, at least, how to start and what this writing demands.

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