Thesis Statement for Literary Essays

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THESIS STATEMENTS FOR LITERARY ESSAYS (DR. TARZIA)

What is a Thesis? Three definitions:

1 --The thesis is an attitude toward the topic, a claim that you want to argue. 2 --A thesis is the central idea of your essay. It is the statement that you will support or prove to be true. The thesis is your goal. 3 --The thesis does not merely name a topic. The thesis asserts something about the topic.

A good way to form a thesis is to (1) focus the topic and (2) make the thesis answer to a WHY question (or sometimes a WHAT, or a HOW question depending on the essay).

Examples of Topics and Thesis Statements (from worse to better!)

This is a topic, not a thesis: “I am going to write about the theme of guilt in the story The Tell Tale Heart.” Say something about that topic.

This is a thesis: “The story The Tell Tale Heart suggests that guilt, when hidden, will emerge to torture the person who feels the guilt.” Good, but could be improved.

This is a better thesis: “The story The Tell Tale Heart suggests that guilt, when hidden, will emerge to torture the person who feels the guilt. Poe shows us this theme by portraying a character whose every sensory impression -- sight, sound, touch -- is for him a reminder of the crime he has done. ”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Marriage is a concern in the play “Trifles” and the story “Story of an Hour.” Not a thesis (this is a statement about the topic but has no specific point to make or an attitude about the topic).

The play “Trifles” and the story “Story of an Hour” deal with the theme of identity in marriage. Weak thesis (could be more specific).

The play “Trifles” and the story “Story of an Hour” deal with the theme of women’s loss of identity in marriage. Better Thesis.

The play “Trifles” and the story “Story of an Hour” deal with the theme of women’s loss of identity in marriage and how this...
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