Is the following a good thesis statement for an essay on the novel Brave New World?
"This paper will compare the use of soma as a means of escape in Brave New World with how we use drugs, both legal and illegal for the same purpose in today’s society."
This statement is not actually a thesis statement as such; instead, it is a statement of intent, without a specific thesis to prove or disprove. To write a correct thesis statement, you need to express an idea or opinion, regardless of your personal opinion, to prove or disprove according to the text. For example, in this statement, the idea of the paper is laid out, but not the thesis itself; you show intent to compare the fictional drug Soma to current-day drugs both in cause and effect. However, just the comparison intent is not enough for a thesis statement. Instead, express an opinion to be discussed in the paper. For example, you might write:
Soma is used for mental escape in Brave New World, and has few, if any, physical side effects; in the present-day, drugs are often used for similar purposes but with terrible side effects.
This allows you to draw on the text to show how Soma is essentially harmless except for its use as a method of citizen control. Then you can compare it to real-world drugs such as cocaine and heroin, which have extremely harmful side effects. The thesis therefore aids the question of how effective drugs are as a method of escape; considering the physically-harmless scope of Soma, it would be a preferable substitute to many real recreational drugs. Consider the introduction of Soma in the text:
"Old men in the bad old days used to renounce, retire, take to religion, spend their time reading, thinking -- thinking!"
"Now -- such is progress -- the old men work... not a moment to sit down and think... there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday..."
(Huxley, Brave New World, huxley.net)
The idea is that Soma exists as a method of keeping the populace working and satisfied, instead of seeing that they are simply cogs in the machinery. In the real world, many people use drugs regardless of their work-load; even if they have a good work/leisure balance, they use drugs for recreation. This creates a dichotomy between the two uses; in fact, comparing the use for escape versus the use for recreation might be an interesting theme.