illustrated outline of a person's head with a red thumbprint on the forehead with an outline of the devil behind

The Devil and Tom Walker

by Washington Irving
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What is a thesis statement for an essay on "The Devil and Tom Walker"?

A thesis statement is not a statement of fact. It is an argument that you intend to prove through the rest of your essay or paper. Choose something that you feel passionately about regarding this story, and then put it into a single sentence thesis statement. "Although each character tries to manipulate somebody else, it is Tom Walker who is most guilty of manipulating other people for his own personal gain."

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The first thing to remember about any thesis statement is that a thesis statement makes an argument that the rest of the paper or essay attempts to prove. A thesis statement is not a statement of fact. It is entirely up to each writer to design an argumentative thesis statement....

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The first thing to remember about any thesis statement is that a thesis statement makes an argument that the rest of the paper or essay attempts to prove. A thesis statement is not a statement of fact. It is entirely up to each writer to design an argumentative thesis statement. Choose something that you feel passionately about regarding this story, and then put it into a single sentence thesis statement.

Without knowing which direction you intend to go with your thesis, I can only make general recommendations. Doing a character analysis or thematic analysis is a fairly simple and common way to go regarding literary thesis statements. Truthfully, those two directions are quite similar because normally a character supports a particular thematic angle, and themes are generally supported by specific characters.

"The Devil and Tom Walker" might be a short story, but it has some fantastic characters. Tom, Old Scratch, and Tom's wife are all wonderfully developed characters. If breaking down a single character seems too daunting of a task, then examine how those characters interact with each other, and pull a theme from that. For example, each of those characters is greedy in their own way. You could examine each character's greed. I also like looking at the manipulation angle of this story. If you wrote a thesis about this topic, you could tie in how manipulation uses greed, bargaining, and temptation. Each character attempts to manipulate other characters in the story, so a viable thesis could be something like the following thesis:

"Although each character tries to manipulate somebody else, it is Tom Walker who is most guilty of manipulating other people for his own personal gain."

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There are a number of options for a thesis statement about this story. One idea is to base your thesis statement on any one of the story's key themes.

For example, you could develop a thesis based on the theme of greed. Specifically, that "The Devil and Tom Walker" demonstrates that excessive greed leads only to misery and ruin. To support this idea, take a look at what happens to Tom's wife. When she goes to seek out Old Scratch to make a pact for the treasure, she is carried away and never seen again.

Alternatively, you could focus on one of the social aspects of the story, like the mention of the slave trade. You'll notice that Tom refuses to become a slave trader when requested by old Scratch. To make a thesis statement on this topic, you could say that Irving uses the character of Tom to make a social commentary. Specifically, he condemns the practice of slavery. Even a man as miserly and greedy as Tom refuses to become a slave trader, proving that Irving believes this to be the most corrupt and evil socio-economic practice of all.

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A thesis statement on Washington Irving's short story The Devil and Tom Walker could be many different things based on the idea upon which you focus your paper. A typical thesis revolves around a theme which the text presents. Therefore, any of the following statements could suit an essay on the text.

1. The short story The Devil and Tom Walker presents the idea that greed is something which can lead to great loss in a person's life.

2. In Washington Irving's short story The Devil and Tom Walker, one can examine the problems associated with being a hypocrite through critically analyzing the character of Tom Walker.

3. Like many tales from literature's past, The Devil and Tom Walker depicts the importance of possessing morals and the problems associated when morality fails to exist.

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