Thesis Statement- Make an Argument!

A thesis statement (or thesis) directs your essay. It is a sentence that states the main point of your paper. As such, it is the backbone of your entire paper. Sometimes I think of it as the sun in your paper's solar system: everything else revolves around it. Everything else in the essay will need to somehow lead back to the thesis, holding it up and bolstering it.

The thesis argument does many things. Above all, it narrows the focus of your paper to a manageable size. It also helps you to determine which evidence from the text you will include in your paper.

Here is how one person puts it:

Usually, you will craft your own thesis. This is a chance for creativity, but it's also hard work. For this essay, however, I've actually given you the thesis! All you have to do is choose one of the sentences below, which will become your essay's thesis statement.

So read the two thesis choices below. Essentially, you will be writing a paper arguing why Romeo and Juliet died. Which argument will you make?

Without a doubt, Romeo and Juliet are at times victimized by simple bad luck. However, Shakespeare's young lovers are ultimately personally responsible for what happens to them; rashness and __________________ -- not the stars - lead to their deaths. [If you choose this, you decide what the second factor/quality leading to their deaths is. Choose a word -- unique from "rashness" -- to complete the sentence.]

- or -

While Romeo and Juliet can be faulted for their youthful impetuousness, they are not ultimately to blame for what happens to them. Shakespeare's young lovers are, indeed, "star-crossed" victims of circumstances beyond their control.

Can you start to think, even now, of examples and passages from the play that will support one side or the other? Remember, you are not summarizing the play in this essay; you are making an argument and proving it using quotations from the play itself.

Please make note that a good thesis statement takes one side. I know that in the real world life is complicated and one-sidedness sometimes doesn't work. But in a good thesis argument you can't sit on the fence and say, "Well, it's kinda their own fault and kinda fate's fault." You have to choose one side or the other. Choose the one you feel you can best support using the text.

Here is a discussion the two thesis possibilities:

Last modified: Thursday, 14 June 2012, 4:19 PM