It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Instead, she wants you to think about why it’s such a great novel—what do Huck’s adventures tell us about life, about America, about coming of age, about race, etc.? How are they different? Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. This will be easy, But the question did not ask you to summarize;
It's a matter of limiting our discussion to the work that can be accomplished within a certain number of pages. The thesis statement should remain flexible until the paper is actually finished. Well, we're getting there, but that's still an awfully big topic, something we might be able to handle in a book or a Ph. D. Think about what the reader would expect from the essay that follows: The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. It more frequently appears at or near the end of the first paragraph or two. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.
Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: It does not tell the reader where you are heading. If the thesis statement is something that we needed prior approval for, changing it might require the permission of the instructor or thesis committee, but it is better to seek such permission than to write a paper that tries to do too much or that claims to do less than it actually accomplishes. The thesis statement usually appears near the beginning of a paper. So that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. There are only strong and weak thesis statements and strong and weak uses of evidence. Let’s look at another example. It asked you to analyze. Included in this working thesis is a reason for the war and some idea of how the two sides disagreed over this reason. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. Maybe you decide that both sides fought for moral reasons, and that they just focused on different moral issues. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions. This final thesis presents a way of interpreting evidence that illuminates the significance of the question. Keep in mind that this is one of many possible interpretations of the Civil War—it is not the one and only right answer to the question. How are they the same? This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper. A thesis statement: If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. Ask yourself these same questions and begin to compare Northern and Southern attitudes (perhaps you first think The South believed slavery was right, and the North thought slavery was wrong ). It is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. If necessary, write the thesis statement that way the first time; Compare and contrast the reasons why the North and South fought the Civil War. Most likely a general, appreciative summary of Twain’s novel. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. That’s fine—begin to work on comparing scenes from the book and see what you discover. Now we have a focus that we can probably write about in a few pages (although more, certainly, could be said) and it would have a good argumentative edge to it. The thesis statement is also a good test for the scope of your intent. Which of these sentences would you say is or are the thesis statement of the essay which is to follow? That is possible if it is clear to thoughtful readers throughout the paper what the business of the essay truly is; What if we wrote about the problem of community colleges in Connecticut being so close together geographically that they tend to duplicate programs unnecessarily and impinge on each other's turf? It ought to be one of the last things that we fuss with in the rewriting process.
Can we write a good paper about problems in higher education in the United States? This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. Society and go back to nature. This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way. Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information. )A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Here is the first paragraph of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. 's essay The Crisis of American Masculinity. Notice how everything drives the reader toward the last sentence and how that last sentence clearly signals what the rest of this essay is going to do. The first paragraph serves as kind of a funnel opening to the essay which draws and invites readers into the discussion, which is then focused by the thesis statement before the work of the essay actually begins. At best, such a paper would be vague and scattered in its approach. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You think. I loved Huckleberry Finn! What’s the point of this contrast? Perhaps you are not sure yet, either. Eventually you will be able to clarify for yourself, and then for the reader, why this contrast matters. That presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. There isn’t one right answer; When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write: Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave civilized You write: While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions. Now you have a working thesis! Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a working thesis If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration: Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation. We consulted these works while writing the original version of this handout. You look again at the evidence, and you decide that you are going to argue that the North believed slavery was immoral while the South believed it upheld the Southern way of life. You turn on the computer and type out the following: The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different. This weak thesis restates the question without providing any additional information. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find the latest publications on this topic. In other words, avoid using phrases such as The purpose of this paper is.. or In this paper, I will attempt to.. Such phrases betray this paper to be the work of an amateur. If we discover new information in the process of writing our paper that ought to be included in the thesis statement, then we'll have to rewrite our thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming. If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Our civilization is decadent, and our language so the argument runs must inevitably share in the general collapse. Can we write a good paper about problems in higher education in Connecticut? To back up such a thesis statement would require a good deal of work, however, and we might be better off if we limited the discussion to an example of how two particular community colleges tend to work in conflict with each other. You end up revising the working thesis into a final thesis that really captures the argument in your paper: While both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, Northerners focused on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their own right to self-government. Compare this to the original weak thesis. You will discover that some writers will delay the articulation of the paper's focus, its thesis, until the very end of the paper.
Your professor is probably not interested in your opinion of the novel; Your reader is intrigued but is still thinking, So what? A reader of this weak thesis might think What reasons? However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal. On the other hand, if we discover that our paper has done adequate work but the thesis statement appears to include things that we haven't actually addressed, then we need to limit that thesis statement. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.
Click to see what we think is the thesis sentence of this essay. Now we're narrowing down to something useful, but once we start writing such a paper, we would find that we're leaving out so much information, so many ideas that even most casual brainstorming would produce, that we're not accomplishing much. You grab a pad of paper and write: Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel. Why is this thesis weak? It can be the first sentence of an essay, but that often feels like a simplistic, unexciting beginning. This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft. Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. The principle to remember is that when you try to do too much, you end up doing less or nothing at all. Frankly, it's probably not a good idea for beginning writers. Avoid announcing the thesis statement as if it were a thesis statement. Now, push your comparison toward an interpretation—why did one side think slavery was right and the other side think it was wrong? For guidance on formatting citations, please see the.
If you enjoy using our handouts, we appreciate contributions of acknowledgement. As you write the essay, you will probably begin to characterize these differences more precisely, and your working thesis may start to seem too vague. First, the question asks you to pick an aspect of the novel that you think is important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write: In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore. Here’s a working thesis with potential: Dissertation, but certainly not in a paper meant for a Composition course. 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. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. It might help you determine, in fact, that this is your thesis statement. Good thesis statements on childhood obesity. But when you rewrite your paper, eliminate the bald assertion that this is your thesis statement and write the statement itself without that annoying, unnecessary preface. Here are the first two paragraphs of George Orwell's classic essay, Politics and the English Language (1946). Can we write a paper about problems within the community college system in Connecticut. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following: Suppose you are taking a course on 19th-century America, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: What does it signify? Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. It's not a matter of being lazy; It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. Everything that follows in this essay, then, would have to be something that fits under the umbrella of that thesis statement. Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. You have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation.
The point is that the process is reversible.