Student Question

Can you help me develop a thesis for a paper comparing the feminist perspectives of Mary Shelley and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft?

Quick answer:

Since this is a compare and contrast paper, include both the biggest similarity and biggest difference between these two writers's approaches to feminism in the thesis statement to give the reader a foretaste of what the paper is about.

Expert Answers

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A thesis statement tends to come most naturally when the writer has a general idea of what they are trying to say in the paper. Since this paper is meant to compare and contrast the ways in which Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley both displayed feminist qualities in their work, first consider what the biggest similarity is between their work in this way, then consider what the biggest difference is. Then try to include both of these elements in your thesis statement, which might be structured as such:

While Wollstonecraft's feminism focused more on X and Shelley's focused more on Y, both also touched on Z.

What X, Y, and Z are, of course, the writer must ascertain from the collected research.

This thesis will not include every little argument used in the paper to come, but that is okay. The most important quality of a thesis statement is that it should broadly share the author's point. If the point is to both compare and contrast the ways in which each woman approached feminism, this could be the best way to organize the paper's thesis statement. A thesis statement with too much detail in it becomes awkward and top-heavy. If possible, a thesis statement might be split into two sentences, though it might be best to ask the teacher grading the assignment if they are okay with this.

One last tip about thesis statement writing: for some writers, a thesis comes more naturally after they have written some or most of their body paragraphs. This allows the writer to have a good sense of the paper's overall argument, making thesis construction much easier.

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