The basic idea behind a literary essay is the breaking down and analyzing of a literary work. It is important for you to look critically at the work that has been chosen (or provided) and take a position that can be supported with evidence in the text. A literary essay is not a book report and often plot is only used to begin the essay or to quickly explicate a point. Focus on other elements like theme and personification. A literary essay is about giving and defending your opinion about something that was read.