Thesis: Your argument; your central idea; your message
Thesis Statement: One or two sentences expressing your thesis (one sentence summary of your main idea)
Explicit versus Implicit
Explicit Thesis: Obvious thesis statement
Implicit Thesis: Argument is implied.
Characteristics of a Good Thesis
Don’t try to tackle too much.
Narrow your topic.
Usually the best thesis statements are very specific.
Weak Theses: Focus
Lord of the Flies is a book about human nature.
Capital punishment is wrong.
The civil war was caused by many factors.
George W. Bush is America’s worst president ever.
Stronger Theses: Focus
In Lord of the Flies , William Golding uses the downfall of innocent children to show the inner depravity of human beings.
The issue of states’ rights was a bigger cause of the civil war than slavery.
George W. Bush’s foreign policy has been less successful than any president’s policy in the past century.
Add something new to the conversation.
Don’t just repeat common wisdom.
Look for the depth of an issue.
Weak Theses: Insight
Romeo and Juliet is one of the greatest love stories ever told.
Abortion is wrong because it is murder.
Students need to stay in school so that they can make a good living.
Violence in the media can cause violence in society.
The Simpson family represents a satire of American family values.
Stronger Theses: Insight
Instead of being the greatest love story ever told, Romeo and Juliet is actually a story of teenage delusion and hysterics.
The media provides people with a catharsis of emotion, thus reducing violence in society.
While the main purpose of The Simpsons is to be satirical, the marital dynamics modeled by Marge and Homer actually can serve as a positive role model for today’s families.
A good thesis…
Must be arguable
Must not be fact
Must need to be proven
Weak Theses: Opinion
Lord of the Flies is a novel about British schoolboys.
In this paper I will discuss the causes of the civil war.
The jean industry targets its advertisements to appeal to young adults.
Violent revolutions have both positive and negative results.
Stronger Theses: Opinion
The character of Simon in Lord of the Flies supports Golding’s belief that humans have moved away from spiritual beliefs
Ending slavery was only an incidental possible outcome of the Civil War; the real reason it was fought was for money.
Although we might assume violent revolutions cause much harm, in fact they have many positive effects.
The Destabilizing Formula
A good thesis statement throws your opponent off-guard.
It includes an element of concession or refutation.
Although (insert concession or refutation here), nevertheless (insert your opinion here) because (insert your reason here.)
Example: Although capital punishment may be a cost-effective means of solving prison crowding, nevertheless it is ethically and morally wrong because it goes against the principles of human decency.
Use a different word other than “although”
(while, since, if, however, etc.)
Leave out the word “nevertheless”
Leave out the because section.
Although many opinions expressed by both celebrities and the common man seem to be worthless, in reality the expression of any opinion, no matter how frivolous, fosters the democratic values of our society.
While video games may indeed promote violence amongst youth, the physical and intellectual benefits of playing these games far outweigh the consequences.
Although violent revolutions often causes long-term economic dysfunction and human suffering, such revolutions at least begin to redress long-standing social inequities.
Although Othello appears to attack jealousy, it also supports the skepticism of the jealous characters over the naivete of the lovers.