Need constructive criticism on my thesis for "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Lottery."Although in “The Lottery” the appearance seems to start off being a normal beautiful summer day at the...

Need constructive criticism on my thesis for "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Lottery."

Although in “The Lottery” the appearance seems to start off being a normal beautiful summer day at the village square involving all of the villages children, fathers, and mothers all enjoying a pleasant conversation amongst one another.  They are all present to participate in carrying out the village tradition of the lottery.  The Irony with this is that the story is just as evil as “Young Goodman Brown” with his blatant journey walking with the devil through the evil forest.


Expert Answers
clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is obvious from this beginning that you are comparing "The Lottery" to "Young Goodman Brown" on the basis that both stories ironically entertain the concept of "evil."  It also sounds like you have more going on here than just a thesis statement.  You have a little bit of a hook, a little bit of a thesis, and a sentence fragment.  With a little cleanup, I think you can salvage your idea and make all of it a bit more clear.

The first thing I ask (and you should also ask yourself) is, "What is the main focus of this essay, beyond the comparison of the two stories?"  I like to encourage students to write a two-part thesis, where you can include your overall focus (comparison of two stories based on "evil" and something about "irony") and main argument points.  If you are not ready to present your three main arguments, you should do some serious brainstorming.  Make a list of ideas you wish to discuss in the paper, then categorize the list into three main groups.  Give each group some sort of a label.  These labels will create the 2nd part of your two-part thesis.  This step has the potential to change your thesis drastically enough that it is worth doing first.

An example of how I might begin to change this is as follows (though I highly encourage you to write your own based on the information you brainstorm):

At first appearance, "The Lottery" presents a seemingly normal village gathering on a beautiful summer day.  Though presented with subtlety, ironically, there is an evil hidden in this town that is just as blatant as the evil present in the forest walk taken in "Young Goodman Brown."  Both stories present...[insert 3 argument categories here].

I'm not sure if you have thought this far yet, but at this point, your analysis is open to looking at three style or rhetorical techniques in both stories that show evil, subtly and ironically.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What an interesting idea to write about the similarities between these two apparently dissimilar settings and stories.  The concept is excellent, and you've captured the important elements in the passage you've written.  You asked for constructive criticism of your thesis, so I assume you're prepared to refine what you've got into a stronger thesis.

The first area to work on is length.  A thesis statement is generally only one sentence.  You've written a lot of detail regarding the setting of "The Lottery" which can certainly be used in your essay but is probably not needed in the thesis. 

The second area to work on is strengthening your position regarding these two story settings.  While you make your point, it's not as clear as it could and should be. After reading your thesis (purpose) statement, your readers should have no doubt about where the rest of the essay is heading and exactly what comparison/contrast you're making.

So, consider something like the following:

The typical small-town setting of "The Lottery" appears to be pleasant in every way; ironically, the story turns out to be just as evil as "Young Goodman Brown" which is set in the dark forest, home of the Devil.

Or perhaps something a little less specific, allowing you to develop your case as the essay progresses:

Although their settings are in no way similar, both "The Lottery" and "Young Goodman Brown" discuss a similar theme of the darkness (evil?) to be found in human nature.

I'm sure you can write a thesis statement which sounds like you, which limits your focus but outlines your position, and which is only one sentence.  This should be an interesting essay.  Thanks for giving me something new to think about in these two stories.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think one element of comparison that you could develop between these two stories is how Goodman Brown willingly goes into the forest knowing that what he is doing is wrong and is evil. It appears, from what we can discern from "The Lottery," that actually one of the points of the story is that the villagers are so blinded by tradition that they do not know that what they are doing is so wrong. Even when we get to the pitiful end of the story and Tess's death, the villagers do not even take a moment to think about their actions.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps you could consider how both stories present the insidiousness of evil.  Cloaked as tradition, something that have been doing for seventy-seven years, the lottery's evil purpose is disguised in this cultural aura. Likewise, Young Goodman Brown dissembles his evil purpose with his "excellent resolve for the future."  So, is the journey really "blatant" or is it surreptitious, much like the gathering for the lottery?  But, once one opens one's heart to evil......

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The first sentence is awkward, especially the "the appearance seems to start off being" part. You need to switch it around. Begin with outright comparison: Although "The Lottery" and "Young Goodman Brown" seem dissimilar on the surface, both stories ...... Here is where you need to explicitly make your point. I am not exactly sure what your point is.
ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Accessteacher makes a good distinction between the willingness of Goodman Brown to conciously make his choice and the villagers who are caught up in the only way of life they've ever known. That being said, your introduction summarizes where it should be explicating.