15 Compelling Ideas For High School Literary Essay Topics

The dreaded literature essay - and the bane of every high school student. Most students have no interest in reading any of the books that are on the required reading list, making it even more difficult to come up with a great topic. If you just can't think of anything to write about, consider looking at the 15 compelling literary essay topics for high school students that I have listed for you below:

  1. What happens when cultures collide? Use a literary work which contains a cultural collision. Describe how the character responds and explain the relevance of the cultural collision to the work as a whole.
  2. The war between responsibility and passion: This is often a recurring theme in books. Use a literary work that has a character confronting the demands of their responsibilities which conflict with a personal passion.
  3. Choose an extremely unrealistic character or incident in a literary work and explain how this relates to elements in the rest of the book that are more realistic.
  4. Choose a character who is either important or complex, and who might be considered immoral or evil based only on their actions. Explain how you know they are not really immoral or evil, and why you have more sympathy for the character than you may normally have.
  5. Choose a famous literary work that has several scenes of extreme violence. Clearly explain how these scenes contributed to the meaning of the book.
  6. Choose a literary work that seems to advocate for change in social traditions or attitudes. Analyze the techniques used by the author to sway the reader toward their point of view.
  7. Find a literary work that has an interesting character playing the role of "foil" to the main character. Analyze how this relationship between the two is able to bring illumination to themes in the work.
  8. Historical background of your chosen author. Who are they? Where there any controversies as a result of their writings?
  9. Choose a novel and examine the roles of each gender within. What do they contribute to the story?
  10. Choose a literary work and examine the allusions within the work. Why are they significant and how are they critical to understanding the work?
  11. Find 2 novels of the same genre written in roughly the same time period. Do a comparison analysis of the two. What are the differences? What are the similarities?
  12. Choose a work that relies on the use of symbols. How are they significant to the story?
  13. Find a work which drew large amounts of criticism. What is the cause?
  14. Choose a novel with two main characters. Compare them with each other. How are they different? How are they the same?
  15. What role does politics play in the novel you are reading? How does this contribute to the story?

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