literary interpretation essay 1

A Literary Interpretation moves beyond comprehension to offer a theory about the meaning of a given story and uses evidence from the story to support that theory. Interpretation of written material is a skill you will use over and over throughout your lifetimes, not just in college writing.


  • To approach literature with an inquiring attitude because it can present more than one possible meaning.
  • To extract meaning from what was read as a practice of critical thinking.
  • To develop a unique, logical perspective and support that idea with evidence from the source story/text.
  • To write down a supported opinion on a particular story, so (potentially) others can respond to that interpretation.


Develop and write a literary interpretation of one of the fairy tales presented in the textbook. (You cannot choose the one used for your discussion lead.) Choose wisely. Think about a story that evoked a strong emotional reaction from you or a class discussion in which you were particularly engaged—now go back and figure out why.

Your interpretation will offer an original idea or thesis (you came up with it based on your own reading, thoughts, and analysis) that is fully supported by evidence from the fairy tale. There is no need for any outside research. Do not read about the story, as you may inadvertently take on someone else’s point of view.

Allowed source:

The only source you are allowed is the actual story: your opinion, supported by evidence found in the story you are analyzing. Do not use any other outside sources—do not read other essays or interpretations.

Rely on your abilities & our discussions. You have already done every part of this in our class discussions, but now you will give your ideas shape, formality, and put them on paper.

Aim for approximately 900-1000 words.


  • Brief, specific summary of the story (maximum of two sentences).
  • Clear, strong opinion (interpretation of what the story means).
  • Clear support (specific elements that support your main idea).
  • Correct incorporation of quoted material (inclusion, punctuation, & citation) Note: quoted material should be less than 20% of the essay—it’s there to support your ideas.
  • MLA, APA or Chicago Style.
  • Correct Works Cited (one source, full citation).

Elements of Essay

Assessment Criteria


Is my paper well-defined, showing insightful analysis and interpretation? Does the format & structure of my essay work with my main idea? Balanced introduction and conclusion? Graceful and effective transitions?


Does my writing include compelling word choice, demonstrating insightful use of figurative language?

Sentence Structure

Are my sentences carefully formed and positioned with attention to emphasis, rhythm, and pace to engage the reader?

Grammar and Mechanics

Does my writing demonstrate a mastery of grammar, creating compelling prose, with few to no errors?

Research and Documentation

Are my included examples relevant? Are they accurately and skillfully quoted, included, and discussed as support of my ideas? Are my sources in correct MLA or APA format, both in-text and in the Works Cited?

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