Analyzing and writing about poetry is a common component of many introductory literature courses. Not sure where to begin? Consult the Online Writing Center at Purdue University:
We often use these terms interchangeably when we talk about poetry, fiction, and other literary works. In the world of literature these terms have very distinct meanings and it is vital that students are aware of and understand these fine distinctions.
REVIEW: A summary and evaluation of some piece of writing or art where these two considerations are interwoven rather than separate. Thanks to a writer’s review, readers can determine whether to purchase or engage the work in question. Reviewers often display historical context.
ANALYSIS: Focuses on how a work of art functions and evaluates it. It isolates the techniques the author(s) used to create the message the writer sees. It evaluates how well the author used those techniques to create an effect. To write an effective analysis, writers have to be familiar with the techniques the artist used. Literary analysis asks the reader to examine literary elements of the work such as plot structure, character development, word choice, symbolism, rhyme and rhthym
INTERPRETATION: The assignment of meaning to some work of art by considering the content, the biographical and historical context, religious or philosophical influences, critical theories, or any combination of these.
CRITICISM: A judgment made on a work of art based on any variety of aspects of that work of art. Writers of criticisms need to be familiar with the techniques of that particular form of art along with cultural aspects and any other aspects the instructor of the class asks writers to acknowledge
Definitions contributed by Dr. Mary McDonald, Director of the CSU Wiritng Center.