I need to write a strong thesis statement about forgiveness and how when you forgive, you can play a bigger role in society and understanding the enviornment

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since a well-composed thesis statement always has a strong motivator (also called a "hook") to grab the interest of the reader, Victor Hugo's Les Miserables provides a relevant example. After Jean Valjean is so cruelly imprisoned for four years for simply stealing bread to feed his sister's starving family, he is finally released; however, he must carry a card that identifies him as an ex-convict. Consequently, he cannot find employment. So, in his wanderings, Valjean knocks on the door of Bishop Myriel, who is known for his charity. After Valjean is admitted, the bishop encourages Valjean and adjures him to replace his resentment with goodwill in order to be worthy of respect:

"You have left a place of suffering. But listen, there will be more joy in heaven over the tears of a repentant sinner, than over the white robes of a hundred good men. If you are leaving that sorrowful place with hate and anger against men, you are worthy of compassion; if you leave it with goodwill, gentleness, and peace, you are better than any of us." 

During the night the ex-convict leaves, but before departing, Valjean steals the bishop's silver candlesticks. When he is apprended by police and brought back to the bishop, Bishop Myriel tells the police that he has given these candlesticks to Jean Valjean, and he dismisses the police.

This single, but magnamious act of forgiveness becomes a life-changing experience for Valjean, who keeps them as a reminder of the saintly bishop, who explained to him that his act of charity was one that bought back Valjean's soul for him. Still, Valjean steals a coin from a small boy, but as he looks at the coin, he has a sudden vision of his life as a thief. This vision points to the fatality of such a life, so he changes and becomes a good citizen under the name of Monsieur Madeleine and, in his own turn, is so charitable that he is elected mayor of his town. Later, he saves the lives of several people, including a little orphan, Cosette and eventually her love, Marius.


Perhaps, then, the student can think of a similar act of gratuitous forgiveness that has made a lifelong impression upon someone and use it as a motivator. From this motivator, the main idea of the essay, or thesis statement, can be generated. For example, the student could write something like this: Often an act of charity has such an effect upon its recipients that they are moved to improve their own lives by becoming honest citizens, loving husbands or wives, and caring friends. Such a thesis statement as this can, then, be supported by narrative examples and even statistics because studies have revealed that people who give to others feel better about themselves.