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How to Write a Personal Interpretation Essay: Guide to Writing

What is a personal interpretation?

A personal interpretation is a way a person understands an event or occurrence, something that they see, read, or heard. Personal interpretation definition may be different or vary slightly depending on the context. In literature, it’s the reader’s understanding of a story or essay that they read.

An interpretation essay is the type of essay written to analyze or break down another story, essay, or piece of writing. In academic circles, this is a common essay assignment for students, and many of them find it overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

In writing an interpretive essay, students have to figure out what part of the literature they are starting from, the literary elements they want to analyze and interpret. One of the first things to note is that you don’t necessarily have to discuss all the literary elements in the work you are interpreting. What you are doing instead is emphasizing some of these elements. Unless there’s an explicit instruction to focus on specific literary elements or discuss all the aspects, you can decide what elements to discuss yourself. However, you could have the problem of choosing the best element to focus on.

If you have a problem like this, then you should choose something that interests you. It could be the theme or setting of the story, a character, etc. You have to pick out something that caught your attention in the story and write your interpretation essay along that line.

How to write a personal interpretation essay

Writing an interpretive essay isn’t difficult once you know what to do and how to go about it. The following steps are descriptive of how you compose an interpretation essay.

Step 1: Read the text and identify literary devices

The first thing to do is read through the text carefully while taking down notes from it. While reading, note down those things that you find surprising, and intriguing, or even confusing. These details are what you dig into while doing your analysis.

The goal for your personal interpretation of a story is more than just explaining the events that were mentioned in writing. You're analyzing the writing mainly and also discussing the texts at a deeper level. The primary thing you are looking for is literary devices which are the elements used by writers to create effect and convey meaning. If you have to compare multiple texts, you should look for the connection between the texts.

Some of the elements to look for in writing are:

  • Choice of language
  • The narrative voice, and
  • Structure of the writing

Step 2: Create your thesis

A thesis for an interpretation essay example is the main point that you are making about the story. It’s the main argument that determines the direction of your essay, so it doesn’t appear like random observations.

If you have a prompt about an essay, you should write a thesis related to that prompt or answer it. For instance:

If your essay question is this:

Is “Before the Law” by Franz Kafka a religious parable?

You should create a thesis statement that answers this question. You aren’t just saying yes or no; you’re writing a statement that explains why it’s a yes or why it isn’t.

You may have the freedom to decide your topic. If this is the case, you have to create an original thesis. Look for something that stands out in writing, then ask questions about the most exciting elements and think of how to answer them.

You should create an arguable thesis. This means that it is true when someone reads the text, but it simply isn’t a statement of fact. You must develop it through argument and evidence throughout your personal interpretation.

Step 3: Write your title and introduction.

Before you start writing your interpretive essay, you need to first create a good title for yourself and then write a strong introduction.

The title must indicate what you will be focusing on in your analysis. Keep it very short and engaging as well.

In a typical interpretation essay example, the introduction will give an idea of the direction you’re heading with the argument. It also includes your thesis statement and a brief or summary of the structure of the essay. Typically, you’ll start with general statements discussing the writing and the author and then mention an idea you’re holding on to from the writing and what you’re focusing on. The ending can include an indication of what the essay body is about.

Step 4: Write your body

The body of your personal interpretation includes every detail of your analysis of another writing before your conclusion and after your introduction. It carries your argument and evidence that you use to support it.

When writing your body, there are things to take note of:

Paragraph structure

There are five main paragraphs for a high school personal interpretation essay. The introduction and conclusion are the first and last, respectively, and three paragraphs in between make up the essay’s body.

The three paragraphs of the body have to focus on a different topic of discussion. So, your argument should be divided into three main topics to analyze.

Topic sentence

This should be used at the start of each paragraph so that your key points are focused on particular topics. It gives the readers an idea of what you’re discussing in the section.

Textual evidence

Your argument in a literary analysis must be backed by textual evidence from the writing. You’ll use quotes from the book to explain your point. Make sure that your quotes are in context and well defined.

Step 5: Write your conclusion

Your personal interpretation analysis should have a conclusion that doesn’t introduce new arguments and quotations. You’re simply wrapping up your opinion here. So, you have to summarize the major points and emphasize points that you find significant to the readers.

You should approach your brief by summarizing your significant points and stress what you're concluding or what they led to. Mention the perspective that you’re pointing out with your interpretation essay.

Conclusion

While many students might find personal interpretation essays overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be that way. With the steps explained in this guide, you’ll find it easier to write a personal interpretation essay.

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