English Essay

There are as many English essay topics as there are English students: literature, linguistics, analysis and more. Find a topic to suit your English class with our list of English essay topic starters.

English Literature Essays

The most common type of English essay is one that focuses on analysis of a piece of literature. You may be assigned a particular book to analyze, or you may be able to choose your own. Here are some ideas for writing an English literature essay:

  • Themes – Discuss the main idea of a book, how it is conveyed, and why the author chose that theme. Many themes have a larger historical context as well, so research your author’s life to add some depth to your essay.
  • Comparison – Discuss the similarities (and differences) between two works. They could be books by the same author, books from the same time period, or books with similar themes.
  • Interpretation – Write a persuasive essay about an event in a major literary work. It could be an event that was open-ended (such as what happened to a character when the book ended) or about a character’s motives. It’s important to put your own opinion into the essay and back up your opinion with proof from the book.
  • First Person – Compare yourself to a character in a book. Write about how aspects of their life are similar to your own, and the similar struggles you face.

Popular Books for English Essays

Some books make better essay topics than others, as some stories are filled with interesting scenarios that are open to interpretation. Here’s a list of some English literature to consider:

  • “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway – Imagery, theme and interpretation
  • Dubliners by James Joyce – Historical context, themes and comparison
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare – Linguistics, style, symbolism and theme
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky – Historical context and symbolism
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne – Historical context and theme
  • Iliad by Homer – Style, structure and themes
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – Structure and themes
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole – Comparison and style
  • “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates – Interpretation and style
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – Themes, imagery, linguistics and style
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad – Theme, imagery, symbols and historical context