The Devil in the White City

by Erik Larson

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Thesis statements for analyzing, critiquing, or reviewing "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson

Summary:

A strong thesis statement for analyzing "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson could explore how Larson juxtaposes the grandeur of the 1893 World's Fair with the sinister acts of H.H. Holmes, reflecting the duality of human nature. Another angle could examine how the book illustrates the impact of ambition and innovation on American society at the turn of the century.

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What is a good thesis statement for a literary analysis of The Devil in the White City?

Literary analysis looks closely at aspects of a text such as setting, characters, and theme to understand what message an author is trying to convey.

For example, if you looked at characters, you might want to examine two very opposite character types in this book. Larson focuses on Daniel Burnham and his partner, John Root, as the book's two protagonists. Together they achieve Burnham's dream of a World Fair, using their pooled talents to make a positive contribution to the city of Chicago and to the human race. On the other hand, Larson also focuses on the sociopath Dr. Holmes, a serial killer who uses his talents and cunning to lure women into his vault to murder them. You might ask why Larson juxtaposes or puts together two such different sets of characters? Is he trying to make a comment about how the rapid changes science and modernity were bringing to Chicago were both good and bad at the same time?

One possible thesis might be along the lines of:

Larson uses the main characters in his book [name them] to show both the bright side and the dark side of change and progress in the United States in the late nineteenth century.

Whatever thesis you pick needs to be arguable (an opinion) and specific. It also needs to be supported with quotes from the book that prove your point.

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What is a good thesis statement for a literary analysis of The Devil in the White City?

Great ways to analyze texts is to examine the themes, symbols, or ideologies presented in the writing.

For example, in EriK Larson's novel The Devil in the White City, one could examine technology, murder, need for power, or identity in the novel. Another way to examine the text is to analyze the one's desire to overcome the obstacle presented in the life of the protagonist. One last suggestion for analysis is the irony presented in the text.

Therefore, examples of thesis statements one could use for the novel would look like any of the following:

1. In Erik Larson's novel The Devil in the White City, the author shows the conflict which arises when one is in search for power.

2. In Erik Larson's novel The Devil in the White City, the author's use of irony plays into the the fact that regardless of one's ability to succeed, a person may not find true happiness.

3. In Erik Larson's novel The Devil in the White City, the author's use of suspense is meant to keep the reader engaged with both the characters and the storyline.

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What would be a strong thesis statement for a book critique on The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson?

Here's a suggestion for a thesis statement:

Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City focuses on a single serial killer during Chicago's preparation for the world fair to shed a broader light on the seediness and underbelly of the city during America's turn-of-the-century time period.

In regards to a book critique in a history sense, you need to focus more on how Larson's book comments on American culture, and specifically on medical experimentation in Chicago during the early 1900s. 

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What is a good thesis for a book review of The Devil in the White City?

The important thing to remember about doing a book review is that it is different from a book report. You should be able to evaluate the author's source material and how he reaches his intended audience. Larson's book, in my opinion, is very well-researched, with newspaper articles from the period and books concerning the Chicago World Exposition. Also, the book was intended for the general population, not only academics. By intertwining the story of Holmes with the Exposition, one gets an idea that there were bad people back in "the good old days" just like there are in modern society. Larson's title is quite apt. You could also address the detail with which Larson addresses the construction of the fair's site—this gives the reader a view of the architecture of the period. Also, do not forget to write what you thought of the book and whether it was a compelling story for you.

If I had to write a brief thesis, I would say something along the lines of "Larson's ability to combine the story of a serial killer with something as magical as a World's Fair presents the reader with a great view of both the dangers and wonders of Gilded-era Chicago."

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What is a good thesis for a book review of The Devil in the White City?

Since you are reviewing the book for a history class, you need to decide which historical aspects you want to focus on and then include those aspects in your thesis statement as well as a little bit of your opinion (because this is a review, not a summary).  You could write something like the following:

Eric Larson's Devil in the White City so effectively blends the history of Chicago's turn-of-the-century preparation for the World's Fair with the gruesome acts of serial killer H.H. Holmes that it reads like crime fiction rather than a stodgy historical account.

Good luck--I hope that you like the book. It took me a while to get into it, but when Larson begins discussing Holmes in more detail, it was difficult for me to put down the book.

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