Literary research paper thesis examples
May 20, 2018
I. What is a Thesis?
The thesis (pronounced thee-seez), also known as a thesis statement, is the sentence that introduces the main argument or point of view of a composition (formal essay, nonfiction piece, or narrative). It is the main claim that the author is making about that topic and serves to summarize and introduce that writing that will be discussed throughout the entire piece. For this reason, the thesis is typically found within the first introduction paragraph.
II. Examples of Theses
Here are a few examples of theses which may be found in the introductions of a variety of essays:
In “The Mending Wall,” Robert Frost uses imagery, metaphor, and dialogue to argue against the use of fences between neighbors.
In this example, the thesis introduces the main subject (Frost’s poem “The Mending Wall”), aspects of the subject which will be examined (imagery, metaphor, and dialogue) and the writer’s argument (fences should not be used).
While Facebook connects some, overall, the social networking site is negative in that it isolates users, causes jealousy, and becomes an addiction.
This thesis introduces an argumentative essay which argues against the use of Facebook due to three of its negative effects.
During the college application process, I discovered my willingness to work hard to achieve my dreams and just what those dreams were.
In this more personal example, the thesis statement introduces a narrative essay which will focus on personal development in realizing one’s goals and how to achieve them.
III. The Importance of Using a Thesis
Theses are absolutely necessary components in essays because they introduce what an essay will be about. Without a thesis, the essay lacks clear organization and direction. Theses allow writers to organize their ideas by clearly stating them, and they allow readers to be aware from the beginning of a composition’s subject, argument, and course. Thesis statements must precisely express an argument within the introductory paragraph of the piece in order to guide the reader from the very beginning.
IV. Examples of Theses in Literature
For examples of theses in literature, consider these thesis statements from essays about topics in literature:
In William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 46,” both physicality and emotion together form powerful romantic love.
This thesis statement clearly states the work and its author as well as the main argument: physicality and emotion create romantic love.
In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne symbolically shows Hester Prynne’s developing identity through the use of the letter A: she moves from adulteress to able community member to angel.
In this example, the work and author are introduced as well as the main argument and supporting points: Prynne’s identity is shown through the letter A in three ways: adulteress, able community member, and angel.
John Keats’ poem “To Autumn” utilizes rhythm, rhyme, and imagery to examine autumn’s simultaneous birth and decay.
This thesis statement introduces the poem and its author along with an argument about the nature of autumn. This argument will be supported by an examination of rhythm, rhyme, and imagery.
V. Examples of Theses in Pop Culture
Sometimes, pop culture attempts to make arguments similar to those of research papers and essays. Here are a few examples of theses in pop culture:
FOOD INC TEASER TRAILER – "More than a terrific movie — it's an important movie." – Ent Weekly
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America’s food industry is making a killing and it’s making us sick, but you have the power to turn the tables.
The documentary Food Inc. examines this thesis with evidence throughout the film including video evidence, interviews with experts, and scientific research.
Blackfish Official Trailer #1 (2013) – Documentary Movie HD
Watch this video on YouTube
Orca whales should not be kept in captivity, as it is psychologically traumatizing and has caused them to kill their own trainers.
Blackfish uses footage, interviews, and history to argue for the thesis that orca whales should not be held in captivity.
VI. Related Terms
Just as a thesis is introduced in the beginning of a composition, the hypothesis is considered a starting point as well. Whereas a thesis introduces the main point of an essay, the hypothesis introduces a proposed explanation which is being investigated through scientific or mathematical research. Thesis statements present arguments based on evidence which is presented throughout the paper, whereas hypotheses are being tested by scientists and mathematicians who may disprove or prove them through experimentation. Here is an example of a hypothesis versus a thesis:
Students skip school more often as summer vacation approaches.
This hypothesis could be tested by examining attendance records and interviewing students. It may or may not be true.
Students skip school due to sickness, boredom with classes, and the urge to rebel.
This thesis presents an argument which will be examined and supported in the paper with detailed evidence and research.
A paper’s introduction is its first paragraph which is used to introduce the paper’s main aim and points used to support that aim throughout the paper. The thesis statement is the most important part of the introduction which states all of this information in one concise statement. Typically, introduction paragraphs require a thesis statement which ties together the entire introduction and introduces the rest of the paper.
Theses are necessary components of well-organized and convincing essays, nonfiction pieces, narratives, and documentaries. They allow writers to organize and support arguments to be developed throughout a composition, and they allow readers to understand from the beginning what the aim of the composition is.
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This handout provides examples and description about writing papers in literature. It discusses research topics, how to begin to research, how to use information, and formatting.
Contributors:Mark Dollar, Purdue OWL
Last Edited: 2011-10-19 02:27:10
What Makes a Good Literature Paper?
When you write an extended literary essay, often one requiring research, you are essentially making an argument. You are arguing that your perspective-an interpretation, an evaluative judgment, or a critical evaluation-is a valid one.
A debatable thesis statement
Like any argument paper you have ever written for a first-year composition course, you must have a specific, detailed thesis statement that reveals your perspective, and, like any good argument, your perspective must be one which is debatable.
You would not want to make an argument of this sort:
Shakespeare's Hamlet is a play about a young man who seeks revenge.
That doesn't say anything-it's basically just a summary and is hardly debatable.
A better thesis would be this:
Hamlet experiences internal conflict because he is in love with his mother.
That is debatable, controversial even. The rest of a paper with this argument as its thesis will be an attempt to show, using specific examples from the text and evidence from scholars, (1) how Hamlet is in love with his mother, (2) why he's in love with her, and (3) what implications there are for reading the play in this manner.
You also want to avoid a thesis statement like this:
Spirituality means different things to different people. King Lear, The Book of Romans, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance each view the spirit differently.
Again, that says nothing that's not already self-evident. Why bother writing a paper about that? You're not writing an essay to list works that have nothing in common other than a general topic like "spirituality." You want to find certain works or authors that, while they may have several differences, do have some specific, unifying point. That point is your thesis.
A better thesis would be this:
Lear, Romans, and Zen each view the soul as the center of human personality.
Then you prove it, using examples from the texts that show that the soul is the center of personality.
The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people. Woodrow Wilson