Developing Thesis Statement

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  • Topic: Essay, Writing, Five paragraph essay
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  • Published : March 30, 2013
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Work from the General to the Specific in the Introductory Paragraph of a Five-Paragraph Essay

In the standard introduction to a five-paragraph essay, the writer works from general to specific. There should be a broad, non-controversial introductory sentence that puts the reader in the ballpark of the essay. This can easily be accomplished by mentioning the name of the book, the author, the time period, or some other piece of relevant, factual information.

The next two or three sentences develop on the first sentence adding increasingly more specific information leading up to the thesis.

The Thesis Statement Must State a Controversial Point

The formulaic thesis statement unequivocally states the main controversial point of the essay and provides “a roadmap” or outline for the rest of the essay. A disproportionate amount of time should be spent crafting the thesis statement. When the thesis statement is complete, the essay is essentially written.

Every thesis statement must have a controversial point, and it needs to be stated succinctly. For example:

• “More than anything else, The Scarlet Letter provides a criticism of nineteenth century America.”

The Thesis Statement Should Include a Roadmap for the Three Body Paragraphs in a Five-Paragraph Essay

Once the controversial point is written, the writer must determine how he or she will prove it. This is “the roadmap” and, when combined with the controversial point, completes the thesis statement.

Because this is a five paragraph essay, there will be three main points supporting the controversial point. These three points will each be dealt with in turn in the three body paragraphs of the essay.

For the controversial point above, three points that will prove it may be:

• Nathanial Hawthorne’s biography clearly showing his disillusionment with the United States • The hypocrisy of America as demonstrated through slavery and genocide of Native Americans • The allegorical nature of the novel itself—using a seventeenth century setting to illuminate nineteenth century America

Constructing “the Roadmap” Part of the Thesis Statement Using Common Phrases

Now that the writer has a controversial point and three pieces of evidence to support it, it is simply a matter of putting the thesis statement together.

Having a list of “go-to” phrases at one’s disposal will help in constructing the actual statement. These phrases will introduce each piece of evidence in the thesis statement. They might include phrases like:

By looking at... , In analyzing... , Through understanding… ; In appreciating… ; By examining…, Through evaluating… These phrases can be used almost interchangeably to craft the first part of the final thesis statement. For example:

• “Through understanding Hawthorne’s personal disillusionment with the United States, by examining the hypocrisy of nineteenth century America as evidenced by the institutions of slavery and genocide, and, finally, in analyzing the allegorical nature of the novel itself…”

Add the Controversial Point to the Roadmap to Complete the Thesis Statement

All that is left is to add a phrase such as “one will come to appreciate” before the controversial point. As such, a formulaic thesis statement might read something like this:

• “Through understanding Hawthorne’s personal disillusionment with the United States, by examining the hypocrisy of nineteenth century America as evidenced by the institutions of slavery and genocide, and finally, in analyzing the allegorical nature of the novel itself, one will come to appreciate that The Scarlet Letter is really a criticism of the country in which the author lived.” Forming a Thesis Statement Adapted from: Research Papers for Dummies You've got a subject ("human-bear interactions") and a topic ("the relationship between Goldilocks and the three bears"). Now...
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