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Writing a Thesis Statement

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1 Writing a Thesis Statement

2 The Point of a Literary Analysis
When writing a literary analysis, you will focus on specific attribute(s) of the text(s). When discussing these attributes, you will want to make sure that you are making a specific, arguable point (thesis) about these attributes. You will defend this point with reasons and evidence drawn from the text and secondary sources –literary crticism. (Much like a lawyer!)

3 What goes into the introduction?
A hook A lead into the author and his/her context (what’s going on in the world when he/she wrote these novels? The titles –with brief plot summaries The settings A clear, one-sentence thesis statement!!!

4 What does a thesis do? An analytical paper breaks down a text(s) into its component parts, evaluates the data, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience as an argument. In other words, “I believe this text is saying … and here’s how I know and here’s why you should believe it too.”

5 What else does it do? tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper. makes a claim that others might dispute.

6 Where do I get one?? A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships.

7 Is it any good? Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it's possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument. Does my thesis pass the “so what?" test? If a reader's first response is “so what?" then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.

8 What should it include? For a critical literary analysis, your thesis statement will typically include the title(s) of the work(s) you will discuss in your paper and the author(s) of those works, as well as what it is that you will argue about those works.

9 Example for a single title:
In the characters of Daisy, Tom, and Gatsby himself, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby depicts a corrupted version of the traditional American Dream and suggests that such a pursuit is ultimately dangerous.

10 Example for multiple titles:
Through the personal struggles of his characters in The Woman Who Walked into Doors, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, and The Snapper, Roddy Doyle illustrates the plight of Ireland’s working class, ultimately proving the breakdown of traditional societal values.

11 And another example: In Free Food for Millionaires and Joy Luck Club, both female protagonists feel that they need a non-Asian boyfriend to assimilate into the American culture and achieve the American Dream; such belief prevents them from accepting their own ethnic identities and therefore prevents them from being truly happy.

12 Make your thesis relevant to your readers
You’ll be able to keep your readers’ attention more easily if you pick a topic that relates to daily experience. Avoid writing a paper that identifies a pattern in a story but doesn’t quite explain why that pattern leads to an interesting interpretation. Identifying the biblical references in Frankenstein might provide a good start to a paper—Mary Shelley does use a lot of biblical allusions—but a good paper must also tell the reader why those references are meaningful.

13 So what makes an interesting paper topic?
Simply put, it has to address issues that we can use in our own lives. Your thesis should be able to answer the brutal question “So what?” Does your paper tell your reader something relevant about the context of the story you’re interpreting or about the human condition?

14 Some categories, like race, gender, and social class, are dependable sources of interest
. This is not to say that all good papers necessarily deal with one of these issues. My thesis on education in Frankenstein does not. But a lot of readers would probably be less interested in reading a paper that traces the instances of water imagery than in reading a paper that compares male or female stereotypes used in a story or that takes a close look at relationships between characters of different races. Again, don’t feel compelled to write on race, gender, or class. The main idea is that you ask yourself whether the topic you’ve selected connects with a major human concern, and there are a lot of options here (for example, issues that relate to economics, family dynamics, education, religion, law, politics, sexuality, history, and psychology, among others).

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