Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms


In composition, analysis is a form of expository writing in which the writer separates a subject into its elements or parts. Plural: analyses. Also called division.

When applied to a literary work (such as a poem, short story, or essay), analysis involves a careful examination and evaluation of details in the text. See critical essay.

From the Greek, "loosen"

Examples and Observations

Keep two phrases in mind when conducting an analysis: "Show me" and "So what?" That is, "show me" (or "point out") what you think are the significant details in the text (or speech or movie—or whatever it is you're analyzing); and then, regarding each of those points, answer the question, "So what?"

What is the significance of each detail?
What effect does that detail create (or attempt to create)?
How does it shape (or attempt to shape) the reader's response?
How does it work in concert with other details to create effects and shape the reader's response?

Sample Analysis: The iPod Nano

"Some music players contain a tiny hard drive, offering huge capacity. Others store music on memory chips, which permit a much more compact design. (This type is known as a flash-memory player, or flash for short.)

"What's so clever about the iPod Nano is that it merges these two approaches. It contains memory chips, so it's dazzlingly tiny—3.5 by 1.6 by 0.27 inches, to be exact, about the size of a folded playing card and thin enough to slip under a door. Yet because Apple stuffed it with four gigabytes of memory, it holds as much music as some hard-drive players--more than 1,000 songs. (Apple also offers a $199 model with half the capacity.) Because it contains no moving parts, the Nano is less delicate than full-size iPods and virtually skip-proof.

"To sweeten the deal, Apple endowed the Nano with a sharp color screen (176 by 132 pixels, 1.5 inches diagonal), the better to show off album-cover art, your photo collection and the iPod's famously clean menu system. The Nano even has room for a click wheel, the scrolling device that makes iPod navigation simple even when you're hunting for a musical needle in a haystack of albums.

"The resulting slab is sweet, small and shiny, a comfortable fit in the middle third of your palm. It weighs so little (1.5 ounces), you don't have to worry about dropping it onto pavement; even if it flies from your hands, the earbud cord catches it like a leash. Once again, Apple has mastered a lesson that its rivals seem unable to absorb: that the three most important features in a personal music player are style, style and style."

(David Pogue, "IPod's Law: The Impossible Is Possible." The New York Times, Sep. 15, 2005)

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Nordquist, Richard. "Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition." ThoughtCo, Apr. 25, 2017, Nordquist, Richard. (2017, April 25). Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition. Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition." ThoughtCo. (accessed September 23, 2017).