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Write a Thesis Statement

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by

Cher Caldwell

on 16 January 2014

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Transcript of Write a Thesis Statement


In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, Miller uses _______________, _______________ , and _______________ to prove that ______________________________ ; however ______________________________."

Literary Devices:
Symbolism
Imagery
Repetition
Allusion
Allegory
Foreshadowing
Characterization
Narration (authorial prose)
7 Most Common Themes
3. MAN VS. NATURE

AKA: Quest for Immortality

EXPLANATION: Includes all stories in which the main character finds himself pitted against weather/environment (To Build a Fire), animals (Moby Dick), or life/death (Frankenstein). Sometimes humans triumph over nature (Swiss Family Robinson); more commonly, nature triumphs over humans (Jurrasic Park). Rarely, man and nature learn to exist together in harmony (Jungle Book); more often, mankind risks destroying destroying nature and themselves with untamed technology (most science fiction).

OTHER EXAMPLES: The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway; Call of the Wild, London; Robinson Crusoe, Defoe; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson; The Picture of Dorian Grey, Wilde; Flowers for Algernon, Keyes
7 Most Common Themes
5. MAN VS. HIMSELF

AKA: Obsession, Greed, Pride, Hubris

EXPLANATION: The usual subtext of these stories is that man carries within him the seeds of his own destruction, and the causes of self-destruction are indeed myriad: pride/vanity/selfishness (Hector in The Iliad), greed/ambition (Dr. Faustus, Richard III), obsession (Moby Dick), insanity (The Telltale Heart), desire for revenge (Othello, Count of Monte Cristo), jealousy (Wuthering Heights), cruelty (The Lord of the Flies), etc. Sometimes, however, "Man vs. Himself" shows up as "You should never give up on your dream, no matter how hard the struggle," a particularly popular theme in teen fiction and movies about sports.

OTHER EXAMPLES: Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
7 Most Common Themes
4. MAN VS. SOCIETY

AKA: Freedom vs. Authority, Individuality, Justice, Social Justice

EXPLANATION: My entirely unscientific survey of literature suggests that there are, alas, more examples of society conquering man (Catch 22, Farenheit 411, 1984) than examples of man conquering society (Moll Flanders, Tom Sawyer); though sometimes these two forces end in an uneasy draw (To Kill a Mockingbird). A common subtext is that even society seems to triumph, the human spirit remains unconquered (Scarlett Letter, Uncle Tom's Cabin; Les Miserables).

OTHER EXAMPLES: Cry, the Beloved Country, Paton; Heart of Darkness, Conrad; Invisible Man, Ellison; Native Son, Wright; Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf; Diary of Anne Frank, Frank; Animal Farm, Orwell
7 Most Common Themes
2. LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

AKA: Sacrifice, Love, Duty

EXPLANATION: Includes pretty much all stories about love, in all its forms: romantic, platonic, godly, unrequited, familial, altruistic. Usually, love triumphs over the barriers (natural, societal) placed in its way (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Taming of the Shrew) though, sometimes, love is unable to overmaster the odds set against it (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Romeo and Juliet). The one thing they almost all have in common is the overarching message that a life lived without love is a life half lived.

OVERLAP: Stories about obsessive love or jealousy (ex: Wuthering Heights) more properly
belong under Man vs. Himself

OTHER EXAMPLES: All's Well That Ends Well, Shakespeare
Finally
VI. Writing a Title
Identify Literary / Rhetorical Devices
Write a Thesis Statement & Title
Common Themes
Stages of Man (Shakespeare):
Birth
Childhood
Young Adulthood
Marriage/Parenthood (themes evolve with different roles)
Middle Age
Death
Identify Literary / Rhetorical Devices
7 Most Common Themes
7-Point Thesis Statement
Argue the AUTHOR'S PURPOSE in using LITERARY or RHETORICAL DEVICES to develop the THEME(s):
(7 point process)

1. Topic: AUTHOR + GENRE +

TITLE
Example: In
ARTHUR MILLER
's
PLAY
,
THE CRUCIBLE
, ...
1. GOOD VS. EVIL

AKA: Courage, Duty, Loyalty, Patriotism, Heroism, Nobility/Honor, Crime Does Not Pay

EXPLANATION: Most stories exploring this theme feature good triumphing over evil, and all the better if "good" is vastly outmatched by "evil" but triumphs anyway, a la David and Goliath, The Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter; though, sometimes, evil ends up triumphing over good (Night).

OVERLAP: This category often overlaps with Love and Friendship (since the heroes risk their lives to preserve those they love), Man vs. Himself (since the heroes often struggle with themselves to find the courage to go on), Fate vs. Free Will (since often there is a prophecy or some other supernatural agency that has thrust heroism upon them), and Suffering and Redemption (since they often have to overcome their own demons in order to prevail).

OTHER EXAMPLES: The Lord of the Rings, Tolkein; Le Morte d'Arthur, Malory; Ivanhoe, Scott; all stories with detectives or superheroes
Act #, Scene #
7 Most Common Themes
6. FATE/FAITH/PREDESTINATION VS. FREE WILL.

AKA: Truth, Faith, Fate.

EXPLANATION: These books explore whether man has the power to create his destiny, or whether his destiny is predetermiend, whether by willful gods or fickle fate. This theme is more common in pre-20th century literature, when believe was more widespread that the gods meddled in the everyday lives of men. However, the theme lives in on literature by worth authors (think magical realism) and in novels that feature reluctant heroes who are somehow "chosen" or "predestined" to save the world.

OTHER EXAMPLES: The Bible; Oedipus Rex, Sophocles; Macbeth/Hamlet, Shakespeare; Harry Potter, Rowlings; The Lord of the Rings, Tolkein.
7 Most Common Themes
7. SUFFERING AND REDEMPTION

AKA: Triumph over Adversity, Self-Reliance, Preserverence

EXPLANATION: These stories typically feature characters who seek to overcome obstacles or redeem past mistakes through courage, sacrifice, remorse, or divine intervention.

OTHER EXAMPLES: The Bible; Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky; Scarlett Letter, Hawthorne; Oliver Twist/David Copperfield/A Christmas Carol, Dickens; Les Miserables, Hugo
Honorable Mentions (Themes)
(themes that pop up in literature frequently, but not as often as those noted above):

Appearances can be deceiving.
EXAMPLES: Frankenstein (Shelly); The Phantom of the Opera (Leroux); Beauty and the Beast (fairy tale)

Innocence, once lost, can never be regained.
EXAMPLES: Peter Pan (Barrie); The Outsiders (EF Hinton); Catcher in the Rye (Salinger)

Mankind's imperative to discover/explore.
EXAMPLES: Around the World in 80 Days (Verne); Journey to the Center of the Earth (Verne); Kim (Kipling)

The glory of battle/the horror of war.
EXAMPLES: Iliad (Homer); All's Quiet on the Western Front (Remarq)

Never make a deal with the devil.
EXAMPLES: Dr. Faustus (Marlowe); The Monk (Lewis); The Devil and Daniel Webster, (Longfellow )
Identify Device
Quotation
Relationship to Theme
Personal Meaning
Act #, Scene #
Identify Device
Quotation
Relationship to Theme
Personal Meaning




2. Add SUBJECT + VERB "uses"
Example: "In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible,
MILLER

USES
...
7-Point Thesis Statement



3. Add the LITERARY / RHETORICAL DEVICE(s)...
Example: "In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, Miller uses
SYMBOLISM
,
IMAGERY
, and
REPETITION
...
7-Point Thesis Statement




4. Add the phrase TO PROVE THAT...
Example: "In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, Miller uses symbolism, imagery, and repetition
TO PROVE THAT
...
7-Point Thesis Statement




5. Add THEME (Universal Idea)
Example: "In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, Miller uses symbolism, imagery, and repetition to prove that
POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY
.
7-Point Thesis Statement
Act 2
pg. 204
Simile
I will fall like an ocean on that court! Fear nothing, Elizabeth!
- John Proctor
I
Theme: Politics (Abuse of Power) Is it ever justified?

Proctor considers the Salem Court System unjust. Therefore, he will fight the injustice of his wife's arrest by "Falling like an ocean" which implies a violent storm...
Act 2
pg. 205
Metaphor
Foreshadowing
Make your peace with it! Now Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our pretense is ripped away - make your peace! ...And the wind, God's icy wind, will blow!
I
I will fall like an ocean on that court! Fear nothing, Elizabeth!


6. Add ADJECTIVES (describe 3 devices)
Example: In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, Miller uses
RELIGIOUS
symbolism,
LIGHT
and
DARK
imagery and repetition
OF IDEAS
to prove that power corrupts absolutely.
7-Point Thesis Statement


7. Add TWIST ("Despite..") or SHIFT ("However,...")
Example: "In Arthur Miller's play, "The Crucible", Miller uses religious symbolism, light and dark imagery and repetition of ideas to prove that power corrupts absolutely;
THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE.
" (example of GOOD overcoming EVIL).
7-Point Thesis Statement
Literary
Devices

V. Thesis Statement
Theme
A. Title Reveals Your Topic and Narrowed Focus
B. Guidelines:
1. Avoid cute or too clever
2. Never leave your reader wondering,
"What's that about?"
3. A colon is helpful.
4. The title should not be stated as a complete sentence, although it might suggest a question.
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