How to write a text analysis | Full Guide

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The text analysis is one of the most important essay types at school or university and required for further processing of each type of text. After all, a large part of English literature lessons consists of understanding, analyzing and interpreting various types of text. Text analysis is about capturing the components of a text and their relationships to one another and working them out in detail.

In principle, every text can be analyzed, whereby we differentiate between the analysis of literary texts and the factual text analysis with regard to the  subject area . Although our focus is on a different focus each time, the procedure for such an investigation is actually the same and can be applied to the different types of text.

In text analysis, we try to break down a text into its individual components and carefully examine, organize and, of course, evaluate these components afterwards. This step is then followed by the interpretation of the text, which means that we ascribe a meaning to the results of our investigation.


Preparing Text Analysis

 Before we can dare to write such a text analysis, we should prepare a few things so that formulating and writing it down is easier for us. 
  • Obtain the relevant working material before starting work . In any case, different colored pens (highlighter), a ruler and also a pencil are recommended to be able to underline and mark important text passages.
  • Now read through the selected text in peace. Ideally several times in order to really understand and interpret all passages.
  • If there are any ambiguities when reading through, these belong directly to the edge of the text. There is always the ideal place for notes in case we notice important details while reading or have questions about what has been written.
  • Furthermore, when reading the text for the first time, we can try to find out when the text was written, make comments about the author and perhaps find out what type of text it is ( commentary , report , glossary, etc.)
  • Before we devote ourselves to writing, we should clear up any ambiguities. Are there words we don’t understand? Do we even know what it’s about? Many of these questions can be answered with a reference book.
  • Note: Basically, there is no right or wrong opinion in text analysis. It is important that we can substantiate all of our later statements on the analyzed text and not claim any things. So whoever is here exactly is doing everything correctly.

Structure of the text analysis

Note: The following structure of the text analysis is to be understood as a guide. Since this article looks at the general way of working, the following points should not be understood as a simple checklist. Rather, we would like to offer you a work proposal.

  • Initiation of text analysis
    • Title of the text
    • Name of the author (who did the text come from?)
    • Date of origin (when was the text written? → literary epochs )
    • Text type ( comment , essay, poem, letter, etc.)
    • What does the text want? (→ interpretation hypothesis )
  • Main part of the text analysis
    • content
      • Subject of the text (What is it all about? What problem is presented?)
      • Which action or which event is shown?
      • Brief description of the content (→ write table of contents )
      • Place of action (where does it all take place?)
      • What characters are there? (→ protagonist , antagonist ?)
      • How are these figures described? (→ characterization )
      • How do the characters relate to one another? (→ figure constellation )
      • What is the relationship between headline and content?
    • structure
      • How is the text structured? (Structure)
      • How does the text begin and end? (Is there a classic structure?)
      • Is there an arc of suspense ?
      • Do we find highlights? Maybe several?
      • If so, is there a turning point? What are the effects?
      • Is there a narrator? Does this express itself?
      • Which narrative perspective does the narrator take? (→ authorial , personal , neutral , first-person narrator )
      • How does the narrator feel about the event? Does he even comment on the event?
      • Are internal processes of the characters represented? (→ inner monologue , experienced speech )
      • Playing narrative time and narrative time matter?
      • Are there ruffles or stretches in time?
      • Is there an argumentation strategy? (Are the arguments valid? → Argument types )
    • language
      • Does the language seem outdated or modern?
      • Abnormalities in the language (few adjectives , many nouns, etc.)
      • Which adjectives are used? (judgmental, descriptive, unnecessary?)
      • Which parts of speech are dominant? Is there a style? (Nominal, verb, adjective style)
      • Are there any special style figures? (→ stylistic device )
    • Intention of the text (not for literary texts!)
      • What does the author want from us? (Intention to act)
      • … does he want to instruct, admonish, inform, remind us, etc.?
      • So what is the function of the text? Is it an appeal or is it personal in nature?
      • Who is the addressee of the text? (Who is the text aimed at?)
      • What is the author’s attitude towards writing? (Can you see that?)
      • Are there historical, political, social connections?
      • What connection is there between intention and time of origin?
    • classification
      • Is the text typical of this time? (→ literary epochs )
      • What are the typical features of the era in the text?
      • What connections are there between epoch and text?
      • Is the author a typical representative of this era?
    • Final part of the text analysis
      • Has our initial guess been confirmed?
      • Are there any unanswered questions that the text does not address or answer?
      • What is our opinion? (Only if a teacher specifically requests it!)

Notes on the structure of the text analysis

The most important thing is that you experiment with the points presented and combine them in a meaningful way. Because all the points that we have suggested for you to set up are optional and not all required.

So decide for yourself which aspects you absolutely want to deal with in your text analysis and which can safely be neglected. It is important that you stick to the structure of the introduction, main part and conclusion. However, you can set the focus in the main part individually.

The given structure is not a dogma , but can of course be varied and adapted to your own ideas. We just want to offer you a suggestion.


Common sources of error in text analysis

  • Wrong: The external form (style) and the content of a text are often not related to one another. After the description of the structure, only the reproduction of the content follows.
  • Correct: The form and content of a text must always be related to each other during analysis. In many texts the way of speaking is even decisive.
  • Wrong: conclusions on content are often drawn very quickly. We have an opinion and do everything we can to substantiate it in the text.
  • Correct: Ideally, we read a body text several times and then analyze its structure in order to allow us a well-founded opinion in the text analysis.
  • Wrong: Often there is hardly any subdivision in the respective text analysis. This means that the individual sections of the shape are not visibly separated from each other.
  • Correct: You don’t necessarily need subheadings in the text analysis. Nevertheless, a clear structure is important and sections of meaning that we can separate using paragraphs.
  • Wrong: Assertions are often simply made in the work without being able to prove them exactly in the text or at all.
  • Correct: We have to be able to justify every claim that we make, not because we want it, but rather find a correspondence in the text itself (quotations!).

Final words on text analysis

Basically, you determine yourself what you want to examine in a text analysis. Of course only if this is not specified by the task at hand.

This means that we are dealing with a very free form of essay, the success and failure of which mostly depends on our preparation. So read the basic text several times, mark anomalies and work your way to the goal piece by piece.

If you are right here, you have already done the worst. Especially in exams and work, it makes sense to plan around a third of the time for preparation and deliberations.

 

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