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Ch 9: AP English: Examples of American Literary Analysis

About This Chapter

Watch American literary analysis video lessons and learn classic themes, historical contexts, how to analyze novels, poems, and essays, and more. These lessons are just a portion of our AP English course.

AP Literature: Examples of American Literary Analysis - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

American literature has sought to portray the concepts of individuality, equality, and the American Dream through various styles and movements. In this chapter, you'll explore famous works of American literature, analyzing them to tease out themes and glean historical insight. Each chapter focuses on a different work of literature, from the Dark Romantics of the early 19th century to the Realists in the 20th. In addition to introducing you to classic American literature, this chapter is designed to teach you how to:

  • Diagram plots and comprehend story
  • Analyze political themes
  • Categorize poetry
  • Recognize techniques like personification and irony
  • Perform a close reading of a work

VideoObjective
Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Summary and AnalysisExplore Irving's Romantic tale of the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane.
Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle: Summary and AnalysisLearn about Rip's twenty-year nap and the Romantic imagery involved in Irving's famous story.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poem AnalysisUnderstand rhythm and rhyme in Longfellow's narrative poem 'Paul Revere's Ride.'
Poe's The Cask of Amontillado: Summary and AnalysisExplore and diagram the plot of Poe's famous Dark Romantic short story.
Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven: Summary and AnalysisLearn about the famous poem and its Dark Romantic characteristics.
Herman Melville: Moby Dick Summary and AnalysisUnderstand the story of the search for the great white whale.
The Scarlet Letter: Summary and Analysis of an AllegoryExplore Hawthorne's classic tale of morality and judgment.
Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience: Summary and AnalysisLearn about transcendentalism in Thoreau's classic political essay.
Emily Dickinson: Poems and Poetry AnalysisUnderstand Dickinson's use of personification in two of her more famous poems.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Themes and AnalysisExplore Twain's place in the Realism movement and the themes presented in his American novel.
Uncle Tom's Cabin and the American Civil WarLearn about Harriet Beecher Stowe's famous novel and its role in the Civil War.
The Great Gatsby: Summary, Themes, Symbols, and CharacterUnderstand Fitzgerald's classic work and the themes, symbols, and characters contained within.
Of Mice and Men: Summary and Analysis of Steinbeck's StyleExplore the plain style used in the short novel.
Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance: Poems of the Jazz AgeLearn about the Harlem Renaissance through Hughes' simile-based poem.
Miller's Death of a Salesman: Summary and AnalysisUnderstand Willy Loman and the fate of the American Dream.

15 Lessons in Chapter 9: AP English: Examples of American Literary Analysis
Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Summary and Analysis

1. Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Summary and Analysis

Everyone loves a scary story now and then. Learn how Washington Irving's famous story, ''The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,'' uses imagination and the supernatural to make it a Romantic piece of American literature that is still adapted by television today.

Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle: Summary and Analysis

2. Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle: Summary and Analysis

The story of 'Rip Van Winkle' is one of enchantments and escape. In this lesson, we look at how Washington Irving uses his words and Romantic characteristics to create the story's theme.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poem Analysis

3. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poem Analysis

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was known as a fireside poet because his poems were read by the fire as a means of entertainment. Learn about how he created American history through the use of musical elements, like rhythm and rhyme scheme.

Poe's The Cask of Amontillado: Summary and Analysis

4. Poe's The Cask of Amontillado: Summary and Analysis

This video explores Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Cask of Amontillado,' a Dark Romantic short story that illustrates the horrors of evil. By breaking down the elements of plot, we can see that Poe's intentional selection of details in the story create his 'unity of effect.'

Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven: Summary and Analysis

5. Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven: Summary and Analysis

This video introduces Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven.' Through Poe's use of poetic devices and dark Romantic characteristics, he is able to achieve the 'unity of effect' to appeal to critics and the masses both during his time and even still today.

Herman Melville: Moby-Dick Summary and Analysis

6. Herman Melville: Moby-Dick Summary and Analysis

''Moby Dick'' is not just a boring story about a whale. Its popularity is still strong today (guess what major coffee chain takes its name from the story) thanks to Herman Melville's raunchy jokes about sperm whales. Oh, the fact it's a great story about evil and revenge doesn't hurt either.

The Scarlet Letter: Summary and Analysis of an Allegory

7. The Scarlet Letter: Summary and Analysis of an Allegory

See how Nathaniel Hawthorne uses allegory and symbolism to illustrate the affair and resulting guilt between a minister and a Puritan woman in his novel 'The Scarlet Letter.'

Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience: Summary and Analysis

8. Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience: Summary and Analysis

Henry David Thoreau wrote the essay Civil Disobedience to show his opposition to slavery and American imperialism. His essay has influenced many prominent civil rights activists, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Emily Dickinson: Poems and Poetry Analysis

9. Emily Dickinson: Poems and Poetry Analysis

Emily Dickinson was a well-known poet of the mid-1800s whose numerous works have stood the test of time. But what in the world did her poems really mean? In this video, we'll explore one of her most recognized pieces and analyze its meaning and purpose.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Themes and Analysis

10. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Themes and Analysis

In this lesson, we will continue our exploration of Mark Twain's most acclaimed work, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, through an analysis of plot, characters, and theme.

Uncle Tom's Cabin and the American Civil War

11. Uncle Tom's Cabin and the American Civil War

In this lesson, we will explore the context, characters and plot of one of the country's most influential novels, Harriet Beecher Stowe's 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' Then, find out how it inched America closer to the Civil War.

The Great Gatsby: Summary, Themes, Symbols, and Character

12. The Great Gatsby: Summary, Themes, Symbols, and Character

F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' is considered by many critics to be the greatest American novel. Watch our video lesson on the novel to find out why!

Of Mice and Men: Summary and Analysis of Steinbeck's Style

13. Of Mice and Men: Summary and Analysis of Steinbeck's Style

John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men' is one of the most enduring American stories of friendship. Watch this video lesson to learn about its characters, main plot events and key themes.

Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance: Poems of the Jazz Age

14. Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance: Poems of the Jazz Age

Langston Hughes was a popular poet from the Harlem Renaissance. His Jazz Age poems, including 'Harlem' and 'I, Too, Sing America,' discussed the racism facing African Americans in the 1920s and '30s.

Miller's Death of a Salesman: Summary and Analysis

15. Miller's Death of a Salesman: Summary and Analysis

In 'Death of a Salesman,' Willy Loman just can't catch a break. And if the title is an indicator, things won't end well. In this lesson, we'll look at Arthur Miller's 1949 masterpiece about a salesman and his family.

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