The Complex Thesis Statement for Literary Criticism
A Good thesis is:
• Argumentative & Controversial. It makes a case. This is the biggest difference between a thesis and a topic – a topic is something like “Huck Finn deals with the issue of slavery.” A thesis makes a specific case; it tries to prove something. It has to be possible for an intelligent person to disagree with your thesis. If everyone agrees on first sight, it is too obvious – descriptive. A good thesis argues for a best reading or interpretation. • Analytical, not evaluative. An English paper isn’t the place to praise or blame works of literature: theses like “Paradise Lost is an enduring expression of the human spirit” or “The Sound and the Fury isn’t successful in its narrative choice” aren’t appropriate – those are reviews, not essays. Analysis involves addressing the way a story is written – literary terms. • Thematic. You must be able to assert an author’s theme clearly and decisively.
A good thesis
• Employs all three of the above.
• Says something a little strange.
o Boring: “By telling the story of Westley’s and Buttercup’s triumph over evil, The Princess Bride affirms the power of true love.” o Effective: “Although the main plot of The Princess Bride rests on the natural power of true love, an examination of the way that fighting sticks (baseball bats, tree branches, and swords) link the frame of the story to the romance plot suggests that the grandson is being trained in true love. Goldman boldly asserts through his narrative that love is not natural but socialized.” Both statements are true and even fulfill the criteria of being argumentative & controversial, analytical, and thematic but the first one is going to bore Mr. Green to tears and the second one will warm his nerdy little heart with its inventiveness. • Fits comfortably into the Magic Thesis Sentence.
o By looking at _______, one can see ________,...
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