A thesis is another name for your argument. It answers the question “What does the student argue about the topic?” and “Why is this significant?”
A thesis is not the same as a topic.
Topic: gender roles
Thesis: “Pippi Longstocking is a heroine who challenges traditional gender roles. Unlike ‘good little girls’ like Annika, Pippi is physically strong, brave, and challenges authority.” Now I have something that doesn’t just state WHAT the essay will be about, but gives an argument about the topic. But it could be better. I should go a little further:
“Pippi Longstocking is a heroine who challenges traditional gender roles. Unlike ‘good little girls’ like Annika, Pippi is physically strong, brave, and challenges authority. Pippi serves as a model to young girls that they, too, can possess these qualities. Readers learn that there is something positive about acting outside of the traditional female role.”
And it could be better still! I could “flesh out” my idea to give it still more significance, and place it in context.
“Pippi Longstocking is a heroine who challenges traditional gender roles. Astrid Lindgren wrote Pippi Longstocking in 1950, when women’s roles in industrialized nations were limited to the home, following World War Two. She originally told the stories to her daughter while the little girl was ill; perhaps the stories were meant to encourage the girl to be strong like Pippi. Physical strength is not traditionally encouraged in girls. Girls are generally trained to be fearful, dependent on others, and to be obedient. Books can change that: young readers learn from such heroines as Pippi, Anne of Green Gables and Leslie in Bridge to Terabitha that there are positive results from acting outside the traditional female role. Unlike ‘good little girls’ like her friend Annika, Pippi is physically strong, brave, independent, and challenges authority. She is a model for ‘girl...