Conventional Elements of Literature Essay

Literature has elements by which we can analyze the piece (book, poem, play, etc. ) written. These elements are; plot, character, setting, theme, structure, point of view, conflict, diction, foreshadowing and symbolism (Scholes, 1991) Three of them will be explained here further. The plot of the literature is the way the story goes, the line of the story, the way it starts, develops and ends. Basically, the plot tells us what happens in the story.

The plot can consist of an exposition (setting and characters), conflict (complications that might arise), climax (moment of crisis or the most important part of a story) and a denouement (the resolution, the unraveling).

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Analyzing the plot and plot changes tell us the whole story and explain the story. Characters make the story; they are the personalities of the story. Characters can be conventional (e. g. human beings, living on earth), science fictional beings (e. g. aliens) or fantastic extra-ordinary beings (e. g.

super hero’s or trolls).

All these characters can either be fictional (made up) or real. The characters can also be human, supernatural, mythical, animal or divine. Then there is also the ‘depth’ of the character to be considered; characters can be round (developed and complex), flat (no complexity) or stereotypical. They can also be dynamic (changes) or static (they don’t change). Analysis of literature from the characters is an in depth analysis of the whole piece, the characters are one of the most important elements in all literature.

Diction, the use of language, is another important element in literature. The dialogues reflect the characters, convey inner thoughts and give meaning to actions. Analysis of the language and the dialogues can give the reader a great insight in the characters and the meaning of the literary piece. A piece of literature can not be analyzed with the use of just one element. To understand literature, you have to analyze at least the plot and the characters to be able to give any meaning to a piece.

But soon, there will be other questions as ‘theme’, ‘points of view’ and ‘symbolism’. All these combined will give you an analysis of literature. The main question any analyst has to ask the piece is ‘why’. This will help the analysis and give insight in all the elements.


Scholes, R. (Ed. ), Klaus, C. H. (Ed. ), Comley, N. R. (Ed. ) & Silverman, M. (Ed. ). (1991). Elements of Literature: Essay, Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Film. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.

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