How can I identify and write a thesis statement?

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Let's start with how to identify a thesis statement, since that will include a definition.

A thesis statement is a claim made by the author at the beginning of the work. It should express the author's stance on a given topic and give a sort of direction for the entire essay or piece. You can often find it near the end of the introduction or intro paragraph.

In terms of writing a thesis statement, you can use a couple of different strategies, depending on how you think. Before you try either of them, it is important to be well-read on your topic, having already explored your sources, whatever kind of sources they may be.

1) You could start with a stance. For an oversimplified example, "Summer is better than winter." Once you have your stance, you can come up with things that support that stance. "Summer is better than winter because it is easier to travel and there is more sunlight." Depending on the requirements for your assignment, you might try a three-part thesis. To return to our example, that would mean there would be three reasons why summer is better than winter, and each body paragraph would discuss one of those things particularly. If you are an upperclassman in college, the three-part thesis is probably insufficient, in which case you should work on developing a more complicated stance that can be broken down over many body paragraphs.

2) Another way to go about writing a thesis statement would be to work backwards. For example, perhaps your topic is "season,s" and you know you want to talk about the length of the days, the temperature, and the activities available during summer. Using these pieces, you can construct a stance that your pieces would support. It just depends on whether it is easier for you to work from an overarching claim and then come up with supporting evidence or to work from the specific things you want to discuss and determine an argument that knits them together and synthesizes them.

I have linked you to a resource that discusses writing the thesis statement at length. Good luck!

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How can one write a good thesis statement?

The main tactic to writing good thesis statements for papers about literature is having a thesis. A thesis is some basic argument or claim you will be supporting in the paper. Once you know what you are claiming and what sort of evidence you will be using to develop your claim, you develop a short "thesis statement" summarizing your thesis. This means that the best time to complete your thesis statement is after you have done most of your research and prepared an extended outline for your paper.

What makes a thesis good is that it is a claim for which you have solid evidence but which is not obvious from the text. Claiming, for example, that Lady Macbeth helps persuade her husband to kill Duncan is not a good thesis because it it obviously true. Arguing that Charlotte Lucas' viewpoint of marriage is actually more realistic and more likely to produce lasting happiness than than that of Elizabeth is a much better thesis as it is not obvious but can be supported from textual and historical evidence. 

Finally, a good thesis should be narrow enough that it can be thoroughly research and covered in the paper. Making a claim about the roles of women in the Victorian novel, for example, is too broad; you are unlikely to have read all 40,000 odd Victorian novels, and are certain unlikely to even list their names much less discuss them in a single term paper. On the other hand, you could focus on the role of younger sisters in the novels or one or two Victorian writers.

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