An expository essay in literature can be a challenging assignment. For one thing, many students do not exactly know what an expository essay actually is. An expository essay in a literature class is basically an assignment that asks you to analyze a work of literature from a unique angle. For example, you would talk about one specific thing that you find interesting within this author or authors’ plays, poetry, fiction, or essays.
In general, analytical/expository essays explain or interpret a writer’s work from an angle which you decide. The more narrow the focus of your essay, the more successful and easier to write it will be.
The best lesson I ever received about finding a focus on a literary piece was from a professor I had in graduate school. This professor told me that if a student approaches you with a topic such as “Nature in Hemingway’s ‘Big Two-Hearted River,’” then, tell them to narrow their focus to “the importance of the river in ‘Big, Two-Hearted River.’”
In other words, the topic of nature is too big in a writer’s story where nature is everywhere—instead, by focusing only upon the river, a short paper could be more successful because your focus would be narrower. Every paragraph could address how the river is important to the story in different ways.
When considering different ideas for a literary essay, it is always helpful to see what other writers have said about the poem or short story. This will give you an overview of how other writers have interpreted the story and help you come up with your own unique angle.
If you are writing a research expository essay about a literary work, you will be asked to gather quotes from researchers and literary analysts and work in snippets of quotes (cited, of course), gathering opinions related to your focus on the piece.