Presentation on theme: "How to Write Thesis Statements October 15, 2007. Thesis Writing How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned. Almost all assignments, no."— Presentation transcript:
How to Write Thesis Statements October 15, 2007
Thesis Writing How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned. Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is “Write how Hamlet’s depression effects his relationships with other characters,” turn the request into a question like “What are the effects of Hamlet’s depression on Ofelia, Horatio, Getrude, etc?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question. Your answers to the question will be the supporting elements needed for the question/s posed. For Example: Q: “What does Hamlet do (specify act) when he sees ____________?” A: “In Act II, Sc 1, Hamlet arrives to see his mother, Gertrude, dressed in black and in a somber mood.
Thesis Writing How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Not Assigned. Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue or assumption you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to explore in your writing. A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes: takes on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree deals with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment expresses one main idea asserts your conclusions (your opinion) about a subject
Thesis Writing How to go about creating the thesis statement: Brainstorm the topic. Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by Hamlet’s behavior in the play. You find that you are interested in the problems of associated with his family, his loss of power (political and otherwise), his mother, or some other character. You start out with a thesis statement like this: Hamlet’s behavior affects others. This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about his behavior. Narrow the topic This is when a close reading of your text is crucial, as well as other sources (scholar sources) on the subject. Your reading about the topic have led you to the conclusion that not only does Hamlet behave odd in the play, he has a difficult time sustaining relationships because of his behavior. You may also have discovered key reasons for his behavior, such as : his father’s death, his mother’s insensitivity, Ophelia’s innocence enabling her not to understand his suffering, his usurped power, etc. You conclude, from your readings, it isn’t his fault he behaves as he does, it is instead ________.
Thesis Writing Now, You change your thesis to look like this: Hamlet’s is incapable of having a good relationship with Gertrude. This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one main idea: Having a Good Relationship with Gertrude. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that his relationship with Gertrude is strained, not everyone would agree on why or who is exactly to blame for this situation. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic. Take a position on the topic. After reflecting on the topic a little while longer (and after close reading), you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that Hamlet cannot understand his mother’s lack of empathy for him because she does not have the same reaction as he does towards his father’s death. You revise your thesis to look like this: Gertrude lacks understanding for Hamlet’s grief. This statement asserts your position, but the terms “lack of understanding” and “grief” are still vague.
Thesis Writing Use specific language (TO AVOID VAGUENESS OF POSITION). You decide to explain what you mean “lack of understanding” and “grief” so you write: Gertrude’s insensitivity towards Hamlet’s disbelief of King Hamlet’s death renders Hamlet incapable of accepting her. This statement is getting specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely states an assertion. Make an assertion based on clearly stated support. You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this: Hamlet’s disbelief of the circumstances revolving around King Hamlet’s death affects his behavior towards his mother, Gertrude, who he feels is insensitive and incapable of understanding his grief. (you may also include a specific text reference) Notice how the thesis answers the question, “How does Hamlet behave towards ___Gertrude___?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.
Thesis Writing How to Tell a Strong Thesis Sentence from a Weak One. 1.A strong thesis takes some sort of stand. 2.A strong thesis justifies discussion. 3.A strong thesis expresses one main idea. 4.A strong thesis statement is specific.
Thesis Writing Today’s practice activity: I will assign you’re a thesis statement, find a partner and both of you make the effort to take the thesis statement and change it to a STRONG THESIS STATEMENT. Take away any vagueness in the writing. Re write the thesis and share it with the class when asked