The term, “analysis” comes from the word, “analyze,” which is the “the process of studying or examining something in an organized way to learn more about it, or a particular study of something” (Cambridge.org). In high school or college writing courses, you might be asked to write an analysis on anything from a long work of literary fiction, a poem, or even media like advertisements or music videos. Regardless of what type of analysis you plan to write, you’ll focus on breaking down the subject into specific components for a close inquiry.
At the most basic form, a literary and other analysis will lead the writer to look deeply into a text to focus on one or more elements. For example, you might decide to analyze the main characters in a work of fiction, or compare and contrast the protagonist with the antagonist. In a poetry analysis, you might focus on the use of imagery, the rhyme scheme or rhythm, or use of metaphor. In a media analysis of a print advertisement or video, you might study the use of design, including typeface or color, signs and symbols, facial expressions, clothing, or actions of the people or figures.
The Analysis Thesis
An analysis essay requires the writer to make a claim or argument. What is the central idea you want to communicate? Therefore, just like an argument essay, a carefully constructed thesis is essential, and will create a road map for the essay’s organization.
To develop an analysis thesis statement, the format will look something like this:
In (title of work), (author) (verb, such as illustrates, shows) (element of work).
So to fill in the blanks, a thesis could be. . .
In “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor incorporates the literary technique of foreshadowing to build suspense throughout the narrative arc.
Another optional format might look like this:
(Author) (verb, shows, develops, illustrates) the theme of __________ in the (play, poem, story).
Edgar Allen Poe illustrates the theme of death and afterlife in “The Raven.”
As you can see, once you have a well-defined thesis, the essay organization will unfold as you lay out the components you’ll analyze.
Advertisement Analysis Thesis
For an advertisement analysis, there are numerous components that could be analyzed, from the way the ad is photographed, the action of characters, to the underlying message the ad conveys, so it’s important to narrow your focus.
As you consider your ad analysis thesis, ask yourself some questions as you brainstorm:
What values or beliefs does the ad communicate?
What are the underlying assumptions the ad is communicating?
Does the ad perpetuate sexual, gender or other stereotypes?
What does this ad tell us about American culture?
Once you choose your point of analysis, create a thesis that reflects the elements of the ad you will focus on, similar to the previous examples:
Ex. 1: In the Gillette razor ad, the images of handsome male athletes conveys the implicit message that consumers of the product will become more strong, attractive, and masculine.
Ex. 2: In the Hallmark commercial, pathos is used to convey a feeling of loneliness and isolation that creates an emotional response in the viewer.
Ex. 3: By using slender, white, and young models, the Cutie Lash ad perpetuates negative female stereotypes.
Once you have a strong thesis, you will organize the essay around your main point or points of analysis. An analysis is considered a formal paper, so keep your voice out of it, and offer well-supported facts and examples from the text or ads. An analysis essay is a great way to show off your critical thinking and reasoning skills. Spending some time developing a strong thesis statement will start you on the road to success.