Curious about how to write a close reading essay? Make sure to check all the advices that our experts from have prepared for you. We have gathered all the necessary information in one place for you to check everything quickly and with no worries. 


What is a Close Reading Essay?

A close reading essay is like hunting for a gem hidden in the woods: you need to pay attention to everything on your way to discover the place where your undisclosed treasure is. Likewise, when working on a piece of literature, you should concentrate on specific actions, characters, sentences, or even words while keeping in mind the general idea of the studied item. As a result, you will write a paper that contains an in-depth understanding and analysis of the literature text because of all the details you have included and all the senses you have added. 


Close Reading Essay Format: What to Include? 

Basically, the format of a close reading paper does not differ much from the regular essays you should write. It still needs such typical parts as an introduction with a strong thesis statement, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. However, what is obligatory in close reading is proof of your point in form of direct quotes. The introduction is also a bit specific here as you might need to clarify which part of the text you are examining or which method you will use to discover a specific topic. 


Close Reading Essay Topics: Some Ideas You May Refer To

When working on a specific text, we usually tend to analyze it in terms of regular themes: main characters, main idea, specific senses, or ideas put into the text. What we usually ignore are small details that make another sense or create an atmosphere. Here we can refer to the characters that are mentioned only a few times in the text or to the words that are used in a specific moment. When it comes to smaller pieces of literature, you can analyze only one sentence or one phrase to dig into all the meanings hidden in it. However, you may face difficulties when formulating your topic for a close-reading essay. That is why we have developed a small roadmap that will help you in it. 


  • Step 1. Read the whole text to get a general idea.
  • Step 2. Check the most widespread topics that are raised in analyses of this text.
  • Step 3. Choose several small passages/details to work with. 
  • For instance, you can choose a character, a description, and a phrase in one text and see which one will further be more fruitful.
  • Step 4. Check how many times these details were mentioned in other analyses. 
  • Step 5. Choose the least mentioned one and read it several times. 
  • Step 6. While reading, write down all the thoughts that appear in your mind while reading. 
  • Step 7. Re-read your notes. Find those ideas that seem more appropriate or fruitful for further research.
  • Step 8. Develop these ideas in separate paragraphs. 
  • Step 9. Check critical reviews of the source (if they are available) and see if any other points of interpretation are possible. 
  • Step 10. Based on available information and your notes, choose the most appealing topic. 


Yes, defining a topic for your essay may be the most difficult part of the whole writing process. To make your life a little bit easier, we have gathered a couple of topics for your inspiration. Check them out below: 

  1. Griergdon’s house symbolism in A Rose for Emily 
  2. Beginning passages of All Quiet on the Western Front 
  3. Analysis of Indian Reservation in Brave New World 
  4. Anorexia of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  5. Terms of Newspeak in Orwell’s 1984: Close Reading 


Close Reading Example: Newspeak in 1984 Passage

It may seem challenging to write a close reading essay if you didn’t have such an experience before. That’s why we have prepared a small passage that will show the way you can analyze specific details of the text. As an example, we have chosen the well-known 1984 by George Orwell and its exceptionally popular but not widely analyzed Newspeak. 


When it comes to a deep analysis of Newspeak words, the one thing that definitely comes to mind is its simplicity. Newspeak eliminated everything that ESL learners hate so much: irregular words, different past tenses, and tons of synonyms or fixed phrases. Instead, Newspeak has a simple set of rules that do not require prolonged learning or deep understanding. No hidden catches, the language used is as simple as it can be. Negation always comes with the prefix un-, so there is no need to learn a separate word. There are no synonyms or antonyms: only prefixes and suffixes to increase clarity and decrease variety. Why did Big Brother use this simplification as it does not seem to be as ideological as other Newspeak words, such as plusgood or blackwhite? There can be at least two reasons for that. First, simple language does not require intensified intellectual work, so eventually people who use it become intellectually weaker than those who use advanced language (or, Oldspeak in 1984). The more stupid people are, the easier it becomes to control them. 


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