Is this thesis statement good? "In T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" the literary allusions (references to other works) help explain Prufrock's problems to the reader."
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This thesis only seems okay, rather than being especially strong. My reasoning for this is as follows. You might say that there are two groups of readers with this poem. One group is the people like Eliott himself. For this group, the allusions are not just useful or helpful, but essential. The allusions are, essentially, what makes a poem. The poet is sort of showing off in this poem. His allusions are subtle at many times. Finding them pleases people.
For second recovery or, however, these references to other poems go unnoticed. This is the larger group of readers. I was in this group the first time I read this poem. I missed all of the allusions. The teacher had to explain them to me. To be honest, on that first or second reading, they did not add to the poem. It seemed like too much work.
You do a good job of being specific. You didn't bite off more than you can chew, which is a good thing. You could be more specific about the types of problems that the allusions provide insight into. Determining these problems could lead you to a good organizational structure.
This is a literary analysis, so analysing the significance of the allusions is a great idea. The problem you may come into if you don't clearly define Prufrock's problems is the mere listing of allusions rather than analysis of them. Make sure you analyse their significance.
I agree with #3--your thesis is too vague. It's good that you can identify the allusions and that they help illustrate Prufrock's problems, but you must be specific in stating what the problems are.
Eliot, in his poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," uses allusions to clearly illustrate Prufrock's ____(insert problems here!)_____.
I'm not sure which problems you want to focus on. You might even say the allusions magnify Prufrock's insecurities in his own self-worth and self-image.
Yes, I agree with others. Your thesis is acceptable at this stage, but could be greatly improved through further precise mention of the various problems as suggested in the very helpful posting above in #4. Your essay will then be clearly signposted as your main body paragraphs will addres each of Prufrock's many problems in turn and explain how the allusions illustrate them.
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