How to Write a Literary Analysis on ‘The Scarlet Letter’ by N. Hawthorne

Writing guide
Posted on April 21, 2016

Writing a literary analysis is a great way to get students to understand the importance and beauty of any classic work of literature. That is why your instructor is bound to assign one to you this semester. If ‘The Scarlet Letter’ by N. Hawthorne is on your reading list, chances are that you will need to write an analysis on this book.

If this is your first time writing a literary analysis, this guide will outline everything you need to know in order to get started. The following lines detail manageable steps which are easy to follow. Think of this as a detailed template with explanations given at every stage. Now while everything you are about to read is related to ‘The Scarlet Letter’, you can use this outline every time you need to write a literary analysis.

Before you begin, you need to decide on the aspect you will write about. This can be anything as far as it is relevant to the book. However, being more specific while selecting a topic shows how well you have researched your assignment, so make sure to choose a thoughtful and original idea. To write about ‘The Scarlet Letter’, refer to our list of 20 essay topics for ‘The Scarlet Letter’ by N. Hawthorne for a literary analysis and the 10 facts on ‘The Scarlet Letter’ by N. Hawthorne for a literary analysis.

After finalizing your topic, you need to tackle the three parts of your essay: Introduction, Main Body, and Conclusion.


The introduction should be able to catch the reader’s attention, which is why the first sentence is aptly called a “hook”. You should include the name of the author, the title of the work, and a short explanation of the theme you will be addressing. You also need to include a short introduction of the major characters and a summary of the work. To conclude the introduction, write your main thesis, i.e. a summary of your overall ideas. Write it using clear and strong words.

  • Hook
  • Name of the Author
  • Title of the Literary Work
  • Main Characters
  • Short Summary
  • Thesis Statement


The body of the essay is composed of three to five topic sentences. This number varies on the word count of the assignment. Each topic paragraph has a few sub-parts which you need to include if you want a logically consistent essay. The advantage of following this structure is ensuring that each of your topic sentence ties in with your central thesis.

Topic Paragraph:

  • Topic Sentence — Describe how this paragraph proves your thesis
  • Connector for Textual Evidence — Provide context for textual evidence
  • Textual Evidence — Quote the relevant part of the text
  • Analysis — Comment on the quote and how it proves your main argument (thesis)
  • Close and Transition — Conclude the paragraph and transition on to the next paragraph

Repeat this pattern for every paragraph, but skip the transition part for the last one.


To conclude your essay, you should present a summary of your main argument. Reword the summary, though, and do not re-use your introduction. Then, write out a broad statement which reflects the importance of the analysis you wrote. You should also explain the importance of the text and its themes.

You will be able to complete the assignment easily if you stick to this outline. With your instructor’s guidelines to add, the format you read is all you need for writing a great literary analysis and getting a great grade.

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