Writing a Thesis Paper About a Poem—Unit 3 Paper, Writing 2, Gerald Egan Every paper that you write has a thesis. In a summary paper, your thesis is a statement of the meaning of the essay(s) that you are summarizing. In a critique paper, your thesis is your own view or position, which you put forward in response to the essay that you are critiquing. In a thesis paper, however, your main purpose is not to summarize or respond to other essays, but to develop an idea of your own in greater depth and detail as your essay proceeds from beginning to end.
For your Unit 3 paper, your thesis will be your own interpretation and statement of what the poem To Autumn means. You can use the readings of To Autumn that we’ve discussed in class to get ideas for your essay, but the idea itself should be original and unique, the product of your own emotional and/or intellectual response to the poem. (Although the tips that follow are specific to your Unit 3 assignment, the concepts presented can be applied generally to any thesis paper.)
To come up with a thesis, answer two related sets of questions: 1. What is this poem really about?
2. Why did Keats write the poem as he did? Why did he use the words, the rhythm, the images, the metaphors that he uses in the poem?
Figure out your answer to these questions, and then set out to prove that you are right. For example, you might think that To Autumn says something about Keats’s attitude towards death. This is a good start, but is not specific enough. You need to read the poem closely and figure out exactly what Keats is saying about death (or about life, or youth, or age, or maturity, etc.). To prove your thesis, you need to find several ways in which the poem—the words on the page—supports your thesis. These instances of your thesis will be the supporting points that you develop in the body of your paper. Describe how, in these examples of your thesis, the words, the rhythm, the images, the metaphors, and the other literary...
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