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Literary Criticism

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  • thesis examples

SAMPLE THESIS STATEMENTS

These sample thesis statements are provided as guides, not as required forms or prescriptions.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The thesis may focus on an analysis of one of the elements of fiction, drama, poetry or nonfiction as expressed in the work: character, plot, structure, idea, theme, symbol, style, imagery, tone, etc.

In “A Worn Path,” Eudora Welty creates a fictional character in Phoenix Jackson whose determination, faith, and cunning illustrate the indomitable human spirit.

Note that the work, author, and character to be analyzed are identified in this thesis statement. The thesis relies on a strong verb (creates). It also identifies the element of fiction that the writer will explore (character) and the characteristics the writer will analyze and discuss (determination, faith, cunning).

Further Examples:

The character of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet serves as a foil to young Juliet, delights us with her warmth and earthy wit, and helps realize the tragic catastrophe.

The works of ecstatic love poets Rumi, Hafiz, and Kabir use symbols such as a lover’s longing and the Tavern of Ruin to illustrate the human soul’s desire to connect with God.

The thesis may focus on illustrating how a work reflects the particular genre’s forms, the characteristics of a philosophy of literature, or the ideas of a particular school of thought.

“The Third and Final Continent” exhibits characteristics recurrent in writings by immigrants: tradition, adaptation, and identity.

Note how the thesis statement classifies the form of the work (writings by immigrants) and identifies the characteristics of that form of writing (tradition, adaptation, and identity) that the essay will discuss.

Further examples:

Samuel Beckett’s Endgame reflects characteristics of Theatre of the Absurd in its minimalist stage setting, its seemingly meaningless dialogue, and its apocalyptic or nihilist vision.

A close look at many details in “The Story of an Hour” reveals how language, institutions, and expected demeanor suppress the natural desires and aspirations of women.

The thesis may draw parallels between some element in the work and real-life situations or subject matter: historical events, the author’s life, medical diagnoses, etc.

In Willa Cather’s short story, “Paul’s Case,” Paul exhibits suicidal behavior that a caring adult might have recognized and remedied had that adult had the scientific knowledge we have today.

This thesis suggests that the essay will identify characteristics of suicide that Paul exhibits in the story. The writer will have to research medical and psychology texts to determine the typical characteristics of suicidal behavior and to illustrate how Paul’s behavior mirrors those characteristics.

Through the experience of one man, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, accurately depicts the historical record of slave life in its descriptions of the often brutal and quixotic relationship between master and slave and of the fragmentation of slave families.

In “I Stand Here Ironing,” one can draw parallels between the narrator’s situation and the author’s life experiences as a mother, writer, and feminist.

SAMPLE PATTERNS FOR THESES ON LITERARY WORKS

1. In (title of work), (author) (illustrates, shows) (aspect) (adjective). 

Example: In “Barn Burning,” William Faulkner shows the characters Sardie and Abner Snopes struggling for their identity.

2. In (title of work), (author) uses (one aspect) to (define, strengthen, illustrate) the (element of work).

Example: In “Youth,” Joseph Conrad uses foreshadowing to strengthen the plot.

3. In (title of work), (author) uses (an important part of work) as a unifying device for (one element), (another element), and (another element). The number of elements can vary from one to four.

Example: In “Youth,” Joseph Conrad uses the sea as a unifying device for setting, structure and theme.

4. (Author) develops the character of (character’s name) in (literary work) through what he/she does, what he/she says, what other people say to or about him/her.

Example: Langston Hughes develops the character of Semple in “Ways and Means”…

5. In (title of work), (author) uses (literary device) to (accomplish, develop, illustrate, strengthen) (element of work).

Example: In “The Masque of the Red Death,” Poe uses the symbolism of the stranger, the clock, and the seventh room to develop the theme of death.

6. (Author) (shows, develops, illustrates) the theme of __________ in the (play, poem, story).

Example: Flannery O’Connor illustrates the theme of the effect of the selfishness of the grandmother upon the family in “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

7. (Author) develops his character(s) in (title of work) through his/her use of language.

Example: John Updike develops his characters in “A & P” through his use of figurative language.

Perimeter College, Georgia State University,  http://depts.gpc.edu/~gpcltc/handouts/communications/literarythesis.pdf

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LIT@MIT

Writing a Thesis

Writing thesis in literature.

thesis about literature

“God Speed” by Edmund Leighton, 1900

Sample Titles of Recent Theses in Literature

thesis about literature

“Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves” by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1973

What does a thesis do for me?

Thesis writers can be assured that they have been well prepared for graduate study, and can attest to that fact in their applications and interviews. They have also gained skills that will help them in any workplace. The intensive, self-motivated focus on one topic can be (at times) frustrating, overwhelming, and deeply gratifying: the rewards are many, and most students find their love of literature strengthened through their own efforts and dedication, as well as through the opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty scholars. The time and commitment involved in the process of writing a thesis may or may not exceed the credit hours officially accorded, but the rewards are great. This is a serious undertaking and assumes that the thesis candidate is a responsible adult, able to make deadlines and keep to them without external prodding, and ready to become a literary scholar with a mind of her own.

What do I do for my thesis?

thesis about literature

“Donna con tavolette cerate e stilo (cosiddetta “Saffo”)/Woman with wax tablets and stylus (so-called “Sappho”)” fresco ca. 50 CE

Fall Semester: Preparatory Work

If they have not done so in the the Spring of the junior year, thesis candidates should consult with faculty prior to Registration Day to determine who would be an appropriate advisor. The thesis will eventually be read and evaluated by three faculty members: the advisor my suggest second and third readers, or may leave the decision to the student. Developing an argument takes time, but candidates should begin with a clear set of interests in mind, and ideally with background reading underway. Students may choose to focus on a particular author or literary text, or to connect several authors and texts through attention to a shared thematic or formal pattern.

Regular Supervision and Deadlines

thesis about literature

“Beloved” by Joe Morse, 2015

Spring Semester: 12-Unit Thesis

During the spring semester, the thesis candidate signs up for the 12-unit Thesis and devotes substantial energy to expanding, completing, and revising the work. The student should continue to meet on a regular basis with the advisor, and should also be sharing draft chapters with the second and third readers as soon as possible. The thesis process involves extensive revision as well as writing, and students need to anticipate that as the semester proceeds their readers will have an increasing number of competing demands on their time from other classes: chapters may not be returned with comments and recommendations for revision until some time after being submitted, and thesis writers need to plan accordingly. A complete first draft should be submitted by the end of spring break or the beginning of April, depending on the academic calendar and the advisor’s schedule. This ensures adequate time for commentary and extensive final revision before the official Institute deadline for undergraduate theses (usually at the end of the penultimate week of classes, and listed on the official Academic Calendar).

After Completion

thesis about literature

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Mad Tea Party” by Sir John Tenniel, 1865

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Developing a Thesis

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This handout covers major topics relating to writing about fiction. This covers prewriting, close reading, thesis development, drafting, and common pitfalls to avoid.

Once you've read the story or novel closely, look back over your notes for patterns of questions or ideas that interest you. Have most of your questions been about the characters, how they develop or change?

For example: If you are reading Conrad's The Secret Agent , do you seem to be most interested in what the author has to say about society? Choose a pattern of ideas and express it in the form of a question and an answer such as the following: Question: What does Conrad seem to be suggesting about early twentieth-century London society in his novel The Secret Agent ? Answer: Conrad suggests that all classes of society are corrupt. Pitfalls: Choosing too many ideas. Choosing an idea without any support.

Once you have some general points to focus on, write your possible ideas and answer the questions that they suggest.

For example: Question: How does Conrad develop the idea that all classes of society are corrupt? Answer: He uses images of beasts and cannibalism whether he's describing socialites, policemen or secret agents.

To write your thesis statement, all you have to do is turn the question and answer around. You've already given the answer, now just put it in a sentence (or a couple of sentences) so that the thesis of your paper is clear.

For example: In his novel, The Secret Agent , Conrad uses beast and cannibal imagery to describe the characters and their relationships to each other. This pattern of images suggests that Conrad saw corruption in every level of early twentieth-century London society.

Now that you're familiar with the story or novel and have developed a thesis statement, you're ready to choose the evidence you'll use to support your thesis. There are a lot of good ways to do this, but all of them depend on a strong thesis for their direction.

For example: Here's a student's thesis about Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent . In his novel, The Secret Agent , Conrad uses beast and cannibal imagery to describe the characters and their relationships to each other. This pattern of images suggests that Conrad saw corruption in every level of early twentieth-century London society. This thesis focuses on the idea of social corruption and the device of imagery. To support this thesis, you would need to find images of beasts and cannibalism within the text.

Thesis Statements for a Literature Assignment

A thesis prepares the reader for what you are about to say. As such, your paper needs to be interesting in order for your thesis to be interesting. Your thesis needs to be interesting because it needs to capture a reader's attention. If a reader looks at your thesis and says "so what?", your thesis has failed to do its job, and chances are your paper has as well. Thus, make your thesis provocative and open to reasonable disagreement, but then write persuasively enough to sway those who might be disagree.

Keep in mind the following when formulating a thesis:

  • A Thesis Should Not State the Obvious
  • Use Literary Terms in Thesis With Care
  • A Thesis Should be Balanced
  • A Thesis Can be a Blueprint

Avoid the Obvious

Bland: Dorothy Parker's "Résumé" uses images of suicide to make her point about living.

This is bland because it's obvious and incontestable. A reader looks at it and says, "so what?"

However, consider this alternative:

Dorothy Parker's "Résumé" doesn't celebrate life, but rather scorns those who would fake or attempt suicide just to get attention.

The first thesis merely describes something about the poem; the second tells the reader what the writer thinks the poem is about--it offers a reading or interpretation. The paper would need to support that reading and would very likely examine the way Parker uses images of suicide to make the point the writer claims.

Use Literary Terms in Thesis Only to Make Larger Points

Poems and novels generally use rhyme, meter, imagery, simile, metaphor, stanzas, characters, themes, settings and so on. While these terms are important for you to use in your analysis and your arguments, that they exist in the work you are writing about should not be the main point of your thesis. Unless the poet or novelist uses these elements in some unexpected way to shape the work's meaning, it's generally a good idea not to draw attention to the use of literary devices in thesis statements because an intelligent reader expects a poem or novel to use literary of these elements. Therefore, a thesis that only says a work uses literary devices isn't a good thesis because all it is doing is stating the obvious, leading the reader to say, "so what?"

However, you can use literary terms in a thesis if the purpose is to explain how the terms contribute to the work's meaning or understanding. Here's an example of thesis statement that does call attention to literary devices because they are central to the paper's argument. Literary terms are placed in italics.

Don Marquis introduced Archy and Mehitabel in his Sun Dial column by combining the conventions of free verse poetry with newspaper prose so intimately that in "the coming of Archy," the entire column represents a complete poem and not a free verse poem preceded by a prose introduction .

Note the difference between this thesis and the first bland thesis on the Parker poem. This thesis does more than say certain literary devices exist in the poem; it argues that they exist in a specific relationship to one another and makes a fairly startling claim, one that many would disagree with and one that the writer will need to persuade her readers on.

Keep Your Thesis Balanced

Keep the thesis balanced. If it's too general, it becomes vague; if it's too specific, it cannot be developed. If it's merely descriptive (like the bland example above), it gives the reader no compelling reason to go on. The thesis should be dramatic, have some tension in it, and should need to be proved (another reason for avoiding the obvious).

Too general: Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote many poems with love as the theme. Too specific: Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote "Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink" in <insert date> after <insert event from her life>. Too descriptive: Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink" is a sonnet with two parts; the first six lines propose a view of love and the next eight complicate that view. With tension and which will need proving: Despite her avowal on the importance of love, and despite her belief that she would not sell her love, the speaker in Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink" remains unconvinced and bitter, as if she is trying to trick herself into believing that love really does matter for more than the one night she is in some lover's arms.

Your Thesis Can Be A Blueprint

A thesis can be used as roadmap or blueprint for your paper:

In "Résumé," Dorothy Parker subverts the idea of what a résumé is--accomplishments and experiences--with an ironic tone, silly images of suicide, and witty rhymes to point out the banality of life for those who remain too disengaged from it.

Note that while this thesis refers to particular poetic devices, it does so in a way that gets beyond merely saying there are poetic devices in the poem and then merely describing them. It makes a claim as to how and why the poet uses tone, imagery and rhyme.

Readers would expect you to argue that Parker subverts the idea of the résumé to critique bored (and boring) people; they would expect your argument to do so by analyzing her use of tone, imagery and rhyme in that order.

Citation Information

Nick Carbone. (1994-2024). Thesis Statements for a Literature Assignment. The WAC Clearinghouse. Colorado State University. Available at https://wac.colostate.edu/repository/writing/guides/.

Copyright Information

Copyright © 1994-2024 Colorado State University and/or this site's authors, developers, and contributors . Some material displayed on this site is used with permission.

Grad Coach

What Is A Literature Review?

A plain-language explainer (with examples).

By:  Derek Jansen (MBA) & Kerryn Warren (PhD) | June 2020 (Updated May 2023)

If you’re faced with writing a dissertation or thesis, chances are you’ve encountered the term “literature review” . If you’re on this page, you’re probably not 100% what the literature review is all about. The good news is that you’ve come to the right place.

Literature Review 101

  • What (exactly) is a literature review
  • What’s the purpose of the literature review chapter
  • How to find high-quality resources
  • How to structure your literature review chapter
  • Example of an actual literature review

What is a literature review?

The word “literature review” can refer to two related things that are part of the broader literature review process. The first is the task of  reviewing the literature  – i.e. sourcing and reading through the existing research relating to your research topic. The second is the  actual chapter  that you write up in your dissertation, thesis or research project. Let’s look at each of them:

Reviewing the literature

The first step of any literature review is to hunt down and  read through the existing research  that’s relevant to your research topic. To do this, you’ll use a combination of tools (we’ll discuss some of these later) to find journal articles, books, ebooks, research reports, dissertations, theses and any other credible sources of information that relate to your topic. You’ll then  summarise and catalogue these  for easy reference when you write up your literature review chapter. 

The literature review chapter

The second step of the literature review is to write the actual literature review chapter (this is usually the second chapter in a typical dissertation or thesis structure ). At the simplest level, the literature review chapter is an  overview of the key literature  that’s relevant to your research topic. This chapter should provide a smooth-flowing discussion of what research has already been done, what is known, what is unknown and what is contested in relation to your research topic. So, you can think of it as an  integrated review of the state of knowledge  around your research topic. 

Starting point for the literature review

What’s the purpose of a literature review?

The literature review chapter has a few important functions within your dissertation, thesis or research project. Let’s take a look at these:

Purpose #1 – Demonstrate your topic knowledge

The first function of the literature review chapter is, quite simply, to show the reader (or marker) that you  know what you’re talking about . In other words, a good literature review chapter demonstrates that you’ve read the relevant existing research and understand what’s going on – who’s said what, what’s agreed upon, disagreed upon and so on. This needs to be  more than just a summary  of who said what – it needs to integrate the existing research to  show how it all fits together  and what’s missing (which leads us to purpose #2, next). 

Purpose #2 – Reveal the research gap that you’ll fill

The second function of the literature review chapter is to  show what’s currently missing  from the existing research, to lay the foundation for your own research topic. In other words, your literature review chapter needs to show that there are currently “missing pieces” in terms of the bigger puzzle, and that  your study will fill one of those research gaps . By doing this, you are showing that your research topic is original and will help contribute to the body of knowledge. In other words, the literature review helps justify your research topic.  

Purpose #3 – Lay the foundation for your conceptual framework

The third function of the literature review is to form the  basis for a conceptual framework . Not every research topic will necessarily have a conceptual framework, but if your topic does require one, it needs to be rooted in your literature review. 

For example, let’s say your research aims to identify the drivers of a certain outcome – the factors which contribute to burnout in office workers. In this case, you’d likely develop a conceptual framework which details the potential factors (e.g. long hours, excessive stress, etc), as well as the outcome (burnout). Those factors would need to emerge from the literature review chapter – they can’t just come from your gut! 

So, in this case, the literature review chapter would uncover each of the potential factors (based on previous studies about burnout), which would then be modelled into a framework. 

Purpose #4 – To inform your methodology

The fourth function of the literature review is to  inform the choice of methodology  for your own research. As we’ve  discussed on the Grad Coach blog , your choice of methodology will be heavily influenced by your research aims, objectives and questions . Given that you’ll be reviewing studies covering a topic close to yours, it makes sense that you could learn a lot from their (well-considered) methodologies.

So, when you’re reviewing the literature, you’ll need to  pay close attention to the research design , methodology and methods used in similar studies, and use these to inform your methodology. Quite often, you’ll be able to  “borrow” from previous studies . This is especially true for quantitative studies , as you can use previously tried and tested measures and scales. 

Free Webinar: Literature Review 101

How do I find articles for my literature review?

Finding quality journal articles is essential to crafting a rock-solid literature review. As you probably already know, not all research is created equally, and so you need to make sure that your literature review is  built on credible research . 

We could write an entire post on how to find quality literature (actually, we have ), but a good starting point is Google Scholar . Google Scholar is essentially the academic equivalent of Google, using Google’s powerful search capabilities to find relevant journal articles and reports. It certainly doesn’t cover every possible resource, but it’s a very useful way to get started on your literature review journey, as it will very quickly give you a good indication of what the  most popular pieces of research  are in your field.

One downside of Google Scholar is that it’s merely a search engine – that is, it lists the articles, but oftentimes  it doesn’t host the articles . So you’ll often hit a paywall when clicking through to journal websites. 

Thankfully, your university should provide you with access to their library, so you can find the article titles using Google Scholar and then search for them by name in your university’s online library. Your university may also provide you with access to  ResearchGate , which is another great source for existing research. 

Remember, the correct search keywords will be super important to get the right information from the start. So, pay close attention to the keywords used in the journal articles you read and use those keywords to search for more articles. If you can’t find a spoon in the kitchen, you haven’t looked in the right drawer. 

Need a helping hand?

thesis about literature

How should I structure my literature review?

Unfortunately, there’s no generic universal answer for this one. The structure of your literature review will depend largely on your topic area and your research aims and objectives.

You could potentially structure your literature review chapter according to theme, group, variables , chronologically or per concepts in your field of research. We explain the main approaches to structuring your literature review here . You can also download a copy of our free literature review template to help you establish an initial structure.

In general, it’s also a good idea to start wide (i.e. the big-picture-level) and then narrow down, ending your literature review close to your research questions . However, there’s no universal one “right way” to structure your literature review. The most important thing is not to discuss your sources one after the other like a list – as we touched on earlier, your literature review needs to synthesise the research , not summarise it .

Ultimately, you need to craft your literature review so that it conveys the most important information effectively – it needs to tell a logical story in a digestible way. It’s no use starting off with highly technical terms and then only explaining what these terms mean later. Always assume your reader is not a subject matter expert and hold their hand through a journe y of the literature while keeping the functions of the literature review chapter (which we discussed earlier) front of mind.

A good literature review should synthesise the existing research in relation to the research aims, not simply summarise it.

Example of a literature review

In the video below, we walk you through a high-quality literature review from a dissertation that earned full distinction. This will give you a clearer view of what a strong literature review looks like in practice and hopefully provide some inspiration for your own. 

Wrapping Up

In this post, we’ve (hopefully) answered the question, “ what is a literature review? “. We’ve also considered the purpose and functions of the literature review, as well as how to find literature and how to structure the literature review chapter. If you’re keen to learn more, check out the literature review section of the Grad Coach blog , as well as our detailed video post covering how to write a literature review . 

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling Udemy Course, Literature Review Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

You Might Also Like:

Thematic analysis 101

16 Comments

BECKY NAMULI

Thanks for this review. It narrates what’s not been taught as tutors are always in a early to finish their classes.

Derek Jansen

Thanks for the kind words, Becky. Good luck with your literature review 🙂

ELaine

This website is amazing, it really helps break everything down. Thank you, I would have been lost without it.

Timothy T. Chol

This is review is amazing. I benefited from it a lot and hope others visiting this website will benefit too.

Timothy T. Chol [email protected]

Tahir

Thank you very much for the guiding in literature review I learn and benefited a lot this make my journey smooth I’ll recommend this site to my friends

Rosalind Whitworth

This was so useful. Thank you so much.

hassan sakaba

Hi, Concept was explained nicely by both of you. Thanks a lot for sharing it. It will surely help research scholars to start their Research Journey.

Susan

The review is really helpful to me especially during this period of covid-19 pandemic when most universities in my country only offer online classes. Great stuff

Mohamed

Great Brief Explanation, thanks

Mayoga Patrick

So helpful to me as a student

Amr E. Hassabo

GradCoach is a fantastic site with brilliant and modern minds behind it.. I spent weeks decoding the substantial academic Jargon and grounding my initial steps on the research process, which could be shortened to a couple of days through the Gradcoach. Thanks again!

S. H Bawa

This is an amazing talk. I paved way for myself as a researcher. Thank you GradCoach!

Carol

Well-presented overview of the literature!

Philippa A Becker

This was brilliant. So clear. Thank you

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Home > USC Columbia > Arts and Sciences > Comparative Literature > Comparative Literature Theses and Dissertations

Comparative Literature Theses and Dissertations

Theses/dissertations from 2023 2023.

Constructing Selfhood Through Fantasy: Mirror Women and Dreamscape Conversations in Olga Grushin’s Forty Rooms , Grace Marie Alger

The Supernatural in Migration: A Reflection on Senegalese Literature and Film , Rokhaya Aballa Dieng

Breaking Down the Human: Disintegration in Nineteenth-Century Fiction , Benjamin Mark Driscol

Archetypes Revisited: Investigating the Power of Universals in Soviet and Hollywood Cinema , Iana Guselnikova

Planting Rhizomes: Roots and Rhizomes in Maryse Condé’s Traversée de la Mangrove and Calixthe Beyala’s Le Petit Prince de Belleville , Rume Kpadamrophe

Violence, Rebellion, and Compromise in Chinese Campus Cinema ----- The Comparison of Cry Me a Sad River and Better Days , Chunyu Liu

Tracing Modern and Contemporary Sino-French Literary and Intellectual Relations: China, France, and Their Shifting Peripheries , Paul Timothy McElhinny

From Roland to Gawain, or the Origin of Personified Knights , Clyde Tilson

Theses/Dissertations from 2022 2022

Afro-Diasporic Literatures of the United States and Brazil: Imaginaries, Counter-Narratives, and Black Feminism in the Americas , David E. S. Beek

The Pursuit of Good Food: The Alimentary Chronotope in Madame Bovary , Lauren Flinner

Form and Voice: Representing Contemporary Women’s Subaltern Experience in and Beyond China , Tingting Hu

Geography of a “Foreign” China: British Intellectuals’ Encounter With Chinese Spaces, 1920-1945 , Yuzhu Sun

Truth and Identity in Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov and Prince Myshkin , Gwendolyn Walker

Theses/Dissertations from 2021 2021

Postcolonial Narrative and The Dialogic Imaginatio n: An Analysis of Early Francophone West African Fiction and Cinema , Seydina Mouhamed Diouf

The Rising of the Avant-Garde Movement In the 1980s People’s Republic of China: A Cultural Practice of the New Enlightenment , Jingsheng Zhang

Theses/Dissertations from 2020 2020

L’ Entre- Monde : The Cinema of Alain Gomis , Guillaume Coly

Digesting Gender: Gendered Foodways in Modern Chinese Literature, 1890s–1940s , Zhuo Feng

The Deconstruction of Patriarchal War Narratives in Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War , Liubov Kartashova

Pushing the Limits of Black Atlantic and Hispanic Transatlantic Studies Through the Exploration of Three U.S. Afro-Latio Memoirs , Julia Luján

Taiwanese Postcolonial Identities and Environmentalism in Wu Ming-Yi’s the Stolen Bicycle , Chihchi Sunny Tsai

Games and Play of Dream of the Red Chamber , Jiayao Wang

Theses/Dissertations from 2019 2019

Convertirse en Inmortal, 成仙 ChéngxiāN, Becoming Xian: Memory and Subjectivity in Cristina Rivera Garza’s Verde Shanghai , Katherine Paulette Elizabeth Crouch

Between Holy Russia and a Monkey: Darwin's Russian Literary and Philosophical Critics , Brendan G. Mooney

Emerging Populations: An Analysis of Twenty-First Century Caribbean Short Stories , Jeremy Patterson

Time, Space and Nonexistence in Joseph Brodsky's Poetry , Daria Smirnova

Theses/Dissertations from 2018 2018

Through the Spaceship’s Window: A Bio-political Reading of 20th Century Latin American and Anglo-Saxon Science Fiction , Juan David Cruz

The Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Arab Women’s Literature: Elements of Subversion and Resignification. , Rima Sadek

Insects As Metaphors For Post-Civil War Reconstruction Of The Civic Body In Augustan Age Rome , Olivia Semler

Theses/Dissertations from 2017 2017

Flannery O’Connor’s Art And The French Renouveau Catholique: A Comparative Exploration Of Contextual Resources For The Author’s Theological Aesthetics Of Sin and Grace , Stephen Allen Baarendse

The Quixotic Picaresque: Tricksters, Modernity, and Otherness in the Transatlantic Novel, or the Intertextual Rhizome of Lazarillo, Don Quijote, Huck Finn, and The Reivers , David Elijah Sinsabaugh Beek

Piglia and Russia: Russian Influences in Ricardo Piglia’s Nombre Falso , Carol E. Fruit Diouf

Beyond Life And Death Images Of Exceptional Women And Chinese Modernity , Wei Hu

Archival Resistance: A Comparative Reading of Ulysses and One Hundred Years of Solitude , Maria-Josee Mendez

Narrating the (Im)Migrant Experience: 21st Century African Fiction in the Age of Globalization , Bernard Ayo Oniwe

Narrating Pain and Freedom: Place and Identity in Modern Syrian Poetry (1970s-1990s) , Manar Shabouk

Theses/Dissertations from 2016 2016

The Development of ‘Meaning’ in Literary Theory: A Comparative Critical Study , Mahmoud Mohamed Ali Ahmad Elkordy

Familial Betrayal And Trauma In Select Plays Of Shakespeare, Racine, And The Corneilles , Lynn Kramer

Evil Men Have No Songs: The Terrorist and Literatuer Boris Savinkov, 1879-1925 , Irina Vasilyeva Meier

Theses/Dissertations from 2015 2015

Resurrectio Mortuorum: Plato’s Use of Ἀνάγκη in the Dialogues , Joshua B. Gehling

Two Million "Butterflies" Searching for Home: Identity and Images of Korean Chinese in Ho Yon-Sun's Yanbian Narratives , Xiang Jin

The Trialectics Of Transnational Migrant Women’s Literature In The Writing Of Edwidge Danticat And Julia Alvarez , Jennifer Lynn Karash-Eastman

Unacknowledged Victims: Love between Women in the Narrative of the Holocaust. An Analysis of Memoirs, Novels, Film and Public Memorials , Isabel Meusen

Making the Irrational Rational: Nietzsche and the Problem of Knowledge in Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita , Brendan Mooney

Invective Drag: Talking Dirty in Catullus, Cicero, Horace, and Ovid , Casey Catherine Moore

Destination Hong Kong: Negotiating Locality in Hong Kong Novels 1945-1966 , Xianmin Shen

H.P. Lovecraft & The French Connection: Translation, Pulps and Literary History , Todd David Spaulding

Female Representations in Contemporary Postmodern War Novels of Spain and the United States: Women as Tools of Modern Catharsis in the Works of Javier Cercas and Tim O'Brien , Joseph P. Weil

Theses/Dissertations from 2014 2014

Poetic Appropriations in Vergil’s Aeneid: A Study in Three Themes Comprising Aeneas’ Character Development , Edgar Gordyn

Ekphrasis and Skepticism in Three Works of Shakespeare , Robert P. Irons

Theses/Dissertations from 2013 2013

The Role of the Trickster Figure and Four Afro-Caribbean Meta-Tropes In the Realization of Agency by Three Slave Protagonists , David Sebastian Cross

Putting Place Back Into Displacement: Reevaluating Diaspora In the Contemporary Literature of Migration , Christiane Brigitte Steckenbiller

Using Singular Value Decomposition in Classics: Seeking Correlations in Horace, Juvenal and Persius against the Fragments of Lucilius , Thomas Whidden

Theses/Dissertations from 2012 2012

Decolonizing Transnational Subaltern Women: The Case of Kurasoleñas and New York Dominicanas , Florencia Cornet

Representation of Women In 19Th Century Popular Art and Literature: Forget Me Not and La Revista Moderna , Juan David Cruz

53x+m³=Ø? (Sex+Me=No Result?): Tropes of Asexuality in Literature and Film , Jana -. Fedtke

Argentina in The African Diaspora: Afro-Argentine And African American Cultural Production, Race, And Nation Building in the 19th Century , Julia Lujan

Male Subjectivity and Twenty-First Century German Cinema: Gender, National Idenity, and the Problem of Normalization , Richard Sell

Theses/Dissertations from 2011 2011

Blue Poets: Brilliant Poetry , Evangelin Grace Chapman-Wall

Sickness of the Spirit: A Comparative Study of Lu Xun and James Joyce , Liang Meng

Dryden and the Solution to Domination: Bonds of Love In the Conquest of Granada , Lydia FitzSimons Robins

Theses/Dissertations from 2010 2010

The Family As the New Collectivity of Belonging In the Fiction of Bharati Mukherjee and Jhumpa Lahiri , Sarbani Bose

Lyric Transcendence: the Sacred and the Real In Classical and Early-Modern Lyric. , Larry Grant Hamby

Abd al-Rahman Al-Kawakibi's Tabai` al-Istibdad wa Masari` al-Isti`bad (The Characteristics of Despotism and The Demises of Enslavement): A Translation and Introduction , Mohamad Subhi Hindi

Re-Visions: Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy In German and Italian Film and Literature , Kristina Stefanic Brown

Plato In Modern China: A Study of Contemporary Chinese Platonists , Leihua WENG

Making Victims: History, Memory, and Literature In Japan's Post-War Social Imaginary , Kimberly Wickham

Theses/Dissertations from 2009 2009

The Mirrored Body: Doubling and Replacement of the Feminine and androgynous Body In Hadia Said'S Artist and Haruki Murakami'S Sputnik Sweetheart , Fatmah Alsalamean

Making Monsters: The Monstrous-Feminine In Horace and Catullus , Casey Catherine Moore

Not Quite American, Not Quite European: Performing "Other" Claims to Exceptionality In Francoist Spain and the Jim Crow South , Brittany Powell

Developing Latin American Feminist Theory: Strategies of Resistance In the Novels of Luisa Valenzuela and Sandra Cisneros , Jennifer Lyn Slobodian

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ENGL 2111 and 2112 World Literature: Thesis Statement

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The Thesis Statement

Thesis Statements in Literary Analysis Papers  

Tips and Examples for Writing a Thesis Statement (OWL @ Purdue)

Writing About Literature (OWL Writing Center-Purdue University)

Writing a Thesis Statement for a Literature Paper (Colorado State University)

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  • Last Updated: Jan 20, 2023 10:43 AM
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Essays About Literature: Top 6 Examples and 8 Prompts

Society and culture are formed around literature. If you are writing essays about literature, you can use the essay examples and prompts featured in our guide.

It has been said that language holds the key to all human activities, and literature is the expression of language. It teaches new words and phrases, allows us to better our communication skills, and helps us learn more about ourselves.

Whether you are reading poems or novels, we often see parts of ourselves in the characters and themes presented by the authors. Literature gives us ideas and helps us determine what to say, while language gives form and structure to our ideas, helping us convey them.

6 Helpful Essay Examples

1. importance of literature by william anderson, 2. philippine literature by jean hodges, 3. african literature by morris marshall.

  • 4.  Nine Questions From Children’s Literature That Every Person Should Answer by Shaunta Grimes

5. Exploring tyranny and power in Macbeth by Tom Davey

6. guide to the classics: homer’s odyssey by jo adetunji, 1. the importance of literature, 2. comparing and contrasting two works of literature  , 3. the use of literary devices, 4. popular adaptations of literature, 5. gender roles in literature, 6. analysis of your chosen literary work, 7. fiction vs. non-fiction, 8. literature as an art form.

“Life before literature was practical and predictable, but in the present-day, literature has expanded into countless libraries and into the minds of many as the gateway for comprehension and curiosity of the human mind and the world around them. Literature is of great importance and is studied upon as it provides the ability to connect human relationships and define what is right and what is wrong.”

Anderson writes about why an understanding of literature is crucial. It allows us to see different perspectives of people from different periods, countries, and cultures: we are given the ability to see the world from an entirely new lens. As a result, we obtain a better judgment of situations. In a world where anything can happen, literature gives us the key to enacting change for ourselves and others. You might also be interested in these essays about Beowulf .

“So successful were the efforts of colonists to blot out the memory of the country’s largely oral past that present-day Filipino writers, artists and journalists are trying to correct this inequity by recognizing the country’s wealth of ethnic traditions and disseminating them in schools through mass media. The rise of nationalistic pride in the 1960s and 1970s also helped bring about this change of attitude among a new breed of Filipinos concerned about the “Filipino identity.””

In her essay, Hodges writes about the history of Philippine literature. Unfortunately, much of Philippine literary history has been obscured by Spanish colonization, as the written works of the Spanish largely replaced the oral tradition of the native Filipinos. A heightened sense of nationalism has recently led to a resurgence in Filipino tradition, including ancient Philippine literature. 

“In fact, the common denominator of the cultures of the African continent is undoubtedly the oral tradition. Writing on black Africa started in the middle Ages with the introduction of the Arabic language and later, in the nineteenth century with introduction of the Latin alphabet. Since 1934, with the birth of the “Negritude.” African authors began to write in French or in English.”

Marshall explores the history of African literature, particularly the languages it was written over time. It was initially written in Arabic and native languages; however, with the “Negritude” movement, writers began composing their works in French or English. This movement allowed African writers to spread their work and gain notoriety. Marshall gives examples of African literature, shedding light on their lyrical content. 

4.   Nine Questions From Children’s Literature That Every Person Should Answer by Shaunta Grimes

“ They asked me questions — questions about who I am, what I value, and where I’m headed — and pushed me to think about the answers. At some point in our lives, we decide we know everything we need to know. We stop asking questions. To remember what’s important, it sometimes helps to return to that place of childlike curiosity and wonder.”

Grimes’ essay is a testament to how much we can learn from literature, even as simple as children’s stories. She explains how different works of children’s literature, such as Charlotte’s Web and Little Women, can inspire us, help us maximize our imagination, and remind us of the fleeting nature of life. Most importantly, however, they remind us that the future is uncertain, and maximizing it is up to us. 

“This is a world where the moral bar has been lowered; a world which ‘sinks beneath the yoke’. In the Macbeths, we see just how terribly the human soul can be corrupted. However, this struggle is played out within other characters too. Perhaps we’re left wondering: in such a dog-eat-dog world, how would we fare?”

The corruption that power can lead to is genuine; Davey explains how this theme is present in Shakespeare’s Macbeth . Even after being honored, Macbeth still wishes to be king and commits heinous acts of violence to achieve his goals. Violence is prevalent throughout the play, but Macbeth and Lady Macbeth exemplify the vicious cycle of bloodshed through their ambition and power. 

“Polyphemus is blinded but survives the attack and curses the voyage home of the Ithacans. All of Odysseus’s men are eventually killed, and he alone survives his return home, mostly because of his versatility and cleverness. There is a strong element of the trickster figure about Homer’s Odysseus.”

Adetunji also exposes a notable work of literature, in this case, Homer’s Odyssey . She goes over the epic poem and its historical context and discusses Odysseus’ most important traits: cleverness and courage. As the story progresses, he displays great courage and bravery in his exploits, using his cunning and wit to outsmart his foes. Finally, Adetunji references modern interpretations of the Odyssey in film, literature, and other media.

8 Prompts for Essays About Literature

In your essay, write about the importance of literature; explain why we need to study literature and how it can help us in the future. Then, give examples of literary works that teach important moral lessons as evidence. 

For your essay, choose two works of literature with similar themes. Then, discuss their similarities and differences in plot, theme, and characters. For example, these themes could include death, grief, love and hate, or relationships. You can also discuss which of the two pieces of literature presents your chosen theme better. 

Essays about literature: The use of literary devices

Writers use literary devices to enhance their literary works and emphasize important points. Literary devices include personification, similes, metaphors, and more. You can write about the effectiveness of literary devices and the reasoning behind their usage. Research and give examples of instances where authors use literary devices effectively to enhance their message.  

Literature has been adapted into cinema, television, and other media time and again, with series such as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter turning into blockbuster franchises. Explore how these adaptations diverge from their source material yet retain the key themes the writer composed the work with in mind. If this seems confusing, research first and read some essay examples. 

Literature reflects the ideas of the period it is from; for example, ancient Greek literature, such as Antigone, depicts the ideal woman as largely obedient and subservient, to an extent. For your essay, you can write about how gender roles have evolved in literature throughout the years, specifically about women. Be sure to give examples to support your points. 

Choose a work of literature that interests you and analyze it in your essay. You can use your favorite novel, book, or screenplay, explain the key themes and characters and summarize the plot. Analyze the key messages in your chosen piece of literature, and discuss how the themes are enhanced through the author’s writing techniques.

Essays about literature: Fiction Vs. Non-Fiction

Literature can be divided into two categories: fiction, from the writer’s imagination, and non-fiction, written about actual events. Explore their similarities and differences, and give your opinion on which is better. For a strong argument, provide ample supporting details and cite credible sources.  

Literature is an art form that uses language, so do you believe it is more effective in conveying its message? Write about how literature compares to other art forms such as painting and sculpture; state your argument and defend it adequately. 

Tip: If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple 5 paragraph essay instead.

For help picking your next essay topic, check out the best essay topics about social media .

thesis about literature

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  • Literary Terms
  • Definition & Examples
  • When & How to Write a Thesis

I. What is a Thesis?

The thesis (pronounced thee -seez), also known as a thesis statement, is the sentence that introduces the main argument or point of view of a composition (formal essay, nonfiction piece, or narrative). It is the main claim that the author is making about that topic and serves to summarize and introduce that writing that will be discussed throughout the entire piece. For this reason, the thesis is typically found within the first introduction paragraph.

II. Examples of Theses

Here are a few examples of theses which may be found in the introductions of a variety of essays :

In “The Mending Wall,” Robert Frost uses imagery, metaphor, and dialogue to argue against the use of fences between neighbors.

In this example, the thesis introduces the main subject (Frost’s poem “The Mending Wall”), aspects of the subject which will be examined (imagery, metaphor, and dialogue) and the writer’s argument (fences should not be used).

While Facebook connects some, overall, the social networking site is negative in that it isolates users, causes jealousy, and becomes an addiction.

This thesis introduces an argumentative essay which argues against the use of Facebook due to three of its negative effects.

During the college application process, I discovered my willingness to work hard to achieve my dreams and just what those dreams were.

In this more personal example, the thesis statement introduces a narrative essay which will focus on personal development in realizing one’s goals and how to achieve them.

III. The Importance of Using a Thesis

Theses are absolutely necessary components in essays because they introduce what an essay will be about. Without a thesis, the essay lacks clear organization and direction. Theses allow writers to organize their ideas by clearly stating them, and they allow readers to be aware from the beginning of a composition’s subject, argument, and course. Thesis statements must precisely express an argument within the introductory paragraph of the piece in order to guide the reader from the very beginning.

IV. Examples of Theses in Literature

For examples of theses in literature, consider these thesis statements from essays about topics in literature:

In William Shakespeare’s “ Sonnet 46,” both physicality and emotion together form powerful romantic love.

This thesis statement clearly states the work and its author as well as the main argument: physicality and emotion create romantic love.

In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne symbolically shows Hester Prynne’s developing identity through the use of the letter A: she moves from adulteress to able community member to angel.

In this example, the work and author are introduced as well as the main argument and supporting points: Prynne’s identity is shown through the letter A in three ways: adulteress, able community member, and angel.

John Keats’ poem “To Autumn” utilizes rhythm, rhyme, and imagery to examine autumn’s simultaneous birth and decay.

This thesis statement introduces the poem and its author along with an argument about the nature of autumn. This argument will be supported by an examination of rhythm, rhyme, and imagery.

V. Examples of Theses in Pop Culture

Sometimes, pop culture attempts to make arguments similar to those of research papers and essays. Here are a few examples of theses in pop culture:

FOOD INC TEASER TRAILER - &quot;More than a terrific movie -- it&#039;s an important movie.&quot; - Ent Weekly

America’s food industry is making a killing and it’s making us sick, but you have the power to turn the tables.

The documentary Food Inc. examines this thesis with evidence throughout the film including video evidence, interviews with experts, and scientific research.

Blackfish Official Trailer #1 (2013) - Documentary Movie HD

Orca whales should not be kept in captivity, as it is psychologically traumatizing and has caused them to kill their own trainers.

Blackfish uses footage, interviews, and history to argue for the thesis that orca whales should not be held in captivity.

VI. Related Terms

Just as a thesis is introduced in the beginning of a composition, the hypothesis is considered a starting point as well. Whereas a thesis introduces the main point of an essay, the hypothesis introduces a proposed explanation which is being investigated through scientific or mathematical research. Thesis statements present arguments based on evidence which is presented throughout the paper, whereas hypotheses are being tested by scientists and mathematicians who may disprove or prove them through experimentation. Here is an example of a hypothesis versus a thesis:

Hypothesis:

Students skip school more often as summer vacation approaches.

This hypothesis could be tested by examining attendance records and interviewing students. It may or may not be true.

Students skip school due to sickness, boredom with classes, and the urge to rebel.

This thesis presents an argument which will be examined and supported in the paper with detailed evidence and research.

Introduction

A paper’s introduction is its first paragraph which is used to introduce the paper’s main aim and points used to support that aim throughout the paper. The thesis statement is the most important part of the introduction which states all of this information in one concise statement. Typically, introduction paragraphs require a thesis statement which ties together the entire introduction and introduces the rest of the paper.

VII. Conclusion

Theses are necessary components of well-organized and convincing essays, nonfiction pieces, narratives , and documentaries. They allow writers to organize and support arguments to be developed throughout a composition, and they allow readers to understand from the beginning what the aim of the composition is.

List of Terms

  • Alliteration
  • Amplification
  • Anachronism
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Antonomasia
  • APA Citation
  • Aposiopesis
  • Autobiography
  • Bildungsroman
  • Characterization
  • Circumlocution
  • Cliffhanger
  • Comic Relief
  • Connotation
  • Deus ex machina
  • Deuteragonist
  • Doppelganger
  • Double Entendre
  • Dramatic irony
  • Equivocation
  • Extended Metaphor
  • Figures of Speech
  • Flash-forward
  • Foreshadowing
  • Intertextuality
  • Juxtaposition
  • Literary Device
  • Malapropism
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Parallelism
  • Pathetic Fallacy
  • Personification
  • Point of View
  • Polysyndeton
  • Protagonist
  • Red Herring
  • Rhetorical Device
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Science Fiction
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
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  • Turning Point
  • Understatement
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  • Verisimilitude
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thesis about literature

Thesis Statements for a Literature Assignment

A thesis prepares the reader for what you are about to say. As such, your paper needs to be interesting in order for your thesis to be interesting. Your thesis needs to be interesting because it needs to capture a reader's attention. If a reader looks at your thesis and says "so what?", your thesis has failed to do its job, and chances are your paper has as well. Thus, make your thesis provocative and open to reasonable disagreement, but then write persuasively enough to sway those who might be disagree.

Keep in mind the following when formulating a thesis:

  • A Thesis Should Not State the Obvious
  • Use Literary Terms in Thesis With Care
  • A Thesis Should be Balanced
  • A Thesis Can be a Blueprint

Avoid the Obvious

Bland: Dorothy Parker's "Résumé" uses images of suicide to make her point about living.

This is bland because it's obvious and incontestable. A reader looks at it and says, "so what?"

However, consider this alternative:

Dorothy Parker's "Résumé" doesn't celebrate life, but rather scorns those who would fake or attempt suicide just to get attention.

The first thesis merely describes something about the poem; the second tells the reader what the writer thinks the poem is about--it offers a reading or interpretation. The paper would need to support that reading and would very likely examine the way Parker uses images of suicide to make the point the writer claims.

Use Literary Terms in Thesis Only to Make Larger Points

Poems and novels generally use rhyme, meter, imagery, simile, metaphor, stanzas, characters, themes, settings and so on. While these terms are important for you to use in your analysis and your arguments, that they exist in the work you are writing about should not be the main point of your thesis. Unless the poet or novelist uses these elements in some unexpected way to shape the work's meaning, it's generally a good idea not to draw attention to the use of literary devices in thesis statements because an intelligent reader expects a poem or novel to use literary of these elements. Therefore, a thesis that only says a work uses literary devices isn't a good thesis because all it is doing is stating the obvious, leading the reader to say, "so what?"

However, you can use literary terms in a thesis if the purpose is to explain how the terms contribute to the work's meaning or understanding. Here's an example of thesis statement that does call attention to literary devices because they are central to the paper's argument. Literary terms are placed in italics.

Don Marquis introduced Archy and Mehitabel in his Sun Dial column by combining the conventions of free verse poetry with newspaper prose so intimately that in "the coming of Archy," the entire column represents a complete poem and not a free verse poem preceded by a prose introduction .

Note the difference between this thesis and the first bland thesis on the Parker poem. This thesis does more than say certain literary devices exist in the poem; it argues that they exist in a specific relationship to one another and makes a fairly startling claim, one that many would disagree with and one that the writer will need to persuade her readers on.

Keep Your Thesis Balanced

Keep the thesis balanced. If it's too general, it becomes vague; if it's too specific, it cannot be developed. If it's merely descriptive (like the bland example above), it gives the reader no compelling reason to go on. The thesis should be dramatic, have some tension in it, and should need to be proved (another reason for avoiding the obvious).

Too general: Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote many poems with love as the theme. Too specific: Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote "Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink" in <insert date> after <insert event from her life>. Too descriptive: Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink" is a sonnet with two parts; the first six lines propose a view of love and the next eight complicate that view. With tension and which will need proving: Despite her avowal on the importance of love, and despite her belief that she would not sell her love, the speaker in Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink" remains unconvinced and bitter, as if she is trying to trick herself into believing that love really does matter for more than the one night she is in some lover's arms.

Your Thesis Can Be A Blueprint

A thesis can be used as roadmap or blueprint for your paper:

In "Résumé," Dorothy Parker subverts the idea of what a résumé is--accomplishments and experiences--with an ironic tone, silly images of suicide, and witty rhymes to point out the banality of life for those who remain too disengaged from it.

Note that while this thesis refers to particular poetic devices, it does so in a way that gets beyond merely saying there are poetic devices in the poem and then merely describing them. It makes a claim as to how and why the poet uses tone, imagery and rhyme.

Readers would expect you to argue that Parker subverts the idea of the résumé to critique bored (and boring) people; they would expect your argument to do so by analyzing her use of tone, imagery and rhyme in that order.

Carbone, Nick. (1997). Thesis Statements for a Literature Assignment. Writing@CSU . Colorado State University. https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm?guideid=51

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  • Knowledge Base
  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

  • Start with a question
  • Write your initial answer
  • Develop your answer
  • Refine your thesis statement

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Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

  • Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
  • Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
  • Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.

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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

  • Why you hold this position
  • What they’ll learn from your essay
  • The key points of your argument or narrative

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

  • In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
  • In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

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Literary Devices

Literary devices, terms, and elements, definition of thesis.

A thesis is a statement or central idea that a writer puts forward at the beginning of an argument , and will support throughout the following text. The thesis is a premise that the author believes to be true, and will give evidence for by way of facts or situations that reinforce this central idea. Thesis statements are most often found in academic writing, and have a subtler yet analogous role in fiction.

The word “thesis” comes from Greek, in which it means “something put forth.” The definition of thesis developed from this reference to an proposition for which the author wants to argue the validity.

Common Examples of Thesis

We generally do not use formal thesis examples in ordinary life. It is possible, however, to state a main idea and back this idea up with evidence. Someone could say, for example, “We’re destined to be together,” and give reasons why this is the case. The lyrics of the popular song “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers illustrates this concept:

1, 2, 3 I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweet (Ho!) So show me family (Hey!) All the blood that I would bleed (Ho!) I don’t know where I belong (Hey!) I don’t know where I went wrong (Ho!) But I can write a song (Hey!)

Bob Dylan’s song “The Hurricane” also puts forward a thesis statement—Rubin Carter “The Hurricane was innocent of a crime he was charged with—and supports it with evidence of the story:

Pistols shots ring out in the barroom night Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall She sees the bartender in a pool of blood Cries out “My God they killed them all” Here comes the story of the Hurricane The man the authorities came to blame For something that he never done Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been The champion of the world.

There are also countless examples of theses in academia; everyone who attains a Ph.D. must first present a thesis paper, sometimes called a dissertation, that is the product of many years of research and investigation. Examples of thesis papers are often found in other undergraduate and graduate studies as well.

Significance of Thesis in Literature

While the thesis of a work of literature can be harder to extract from the body of the text than in academic writing, it can be just as important. Writers have a certain point of view from which they are writing, and may construct entire poems and novels to prove certain ideas true. While an academic writer can base his or her argument off of fact and data, the literary writer often uses situations and the emotions they provoke to help prove certain ideas. This process can take longer to develop than in academic thesis examples, and yet the result can often be stronger. When authors of poetry and prose appeal to emotion as well as logic (both pathos and logos ), the reader is more likely to be convinced of a certain message, as well as remember the message for a longer period of time.

Examples of Thesis in Literature

JAQUES: All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.

( As You Like It by William Shakespeare)

This famous example of thesis from the character of Jaques is a beautiful metaphor for the similarities between life and the stage. It is often quoted because it seems to reflect a world-view that Shakespeare probably held; everything that happens in the world can be read as a type of performance with everyone just trying to play their part.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

( To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

The above excerpt from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is famous because it is an important central idea to the novel. Atticus Finch believes in empathy and understanding other people’s life stories and points of view. Therefore, he strongly believes that we must try to understand where other people are coming from. This one statement is a thesis that the rest of the book supports.

TOM: Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.

( The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams) Thesis examples can often be found at the beginning of a work of poetry, prose, or drama , as is the case with Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie . The character of Tom narrates the play, and often breaks the fourth wall to address the audience directly. In this quote, which opens the play, Tom presents the idea that the drama that is about to unfold is entertaining yet tells the truth. Similar to Shakespeare, this could be understood as Tennessee William’s thesis about the power of drama.

And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.

( East of Eden by John Steinbeck)

In his novel East of Eden , John Steinbeck often makes authorial interjections. These passages seem to highlight Steinbeck’s own views on different matters, rather than any particular character’s views. The short excerpt above is one of the strongest examples of a thesis statement in all of literature; Steinbeck firmly believe in free will, and vows to fight against anything that would limit free will. He presents more than one example of thesis in his novel, and creates characters and situations that support his beliefs.

so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.

(“The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams)

Poetry can have examples of thesis statements just as easily as prose or drama. William Carlos Williams’s poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” is famously enigmatic, while also being quite direct. He makes the straightforward argument that “so much depends” on a certain intangible object. In this case, “a red wheel / barrow.” Many readers and scholars have interpreted this short thesis statement in countless different ways. Thus, it is an interesting thesis example because Williams states it so unswervingly, yet does not support it with other evidence. Readers are left to interpret and prove this thesis example themselves.

Test Your Knowledge of Thesis

1. Which of the following statements is the best thesis definition? A. A minor claim to support the main proposition that author has put forth. B. A central idea which the author intends to support via evidence. C. A piece of evidence or a fact.

2. What thesis could be extracted from the following quote from John Steinbeck’s East of Eden?

Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience.

A. All people with physical deformities are monsters. B. All monsters are evil. C. Some people can be born without kindness, making them monstrous.

3. What is the thesis in William Shakespeare’s “ Sonnet 116”?

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no; it is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests, and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

A. True love does not change when problems arise. B. Love is a game for fools. C. Only married people understand true love.

Union Square Ventures

Investing at the Edge of Large Markets Under Transformative Pressure

Nick Grossman – Jan 23, 2024

Union Square Ventures turns 20 this year.  Brad and Fred began to deploy the first USV fund in 2004. The dot com bubble had recently popped, modern smartphones hadn’t been invented, “social media” wasn’t a thing, and the first bitcoin transaction wouldn’t be recorded for another 5 years.

Since then, we have raised and invested a total of 14 funds (8 “Core” early stage funds, 2 early stage Climate Funds, and 4 Opportunity Funds), and have made more than 230 investments across many categories & technologies: social media, marketplaces, developer tools, learning, health, fintech, web3 & decentralized systems, energy & climate and more.   

Throughout our history, we’ve developed investment theses around moments where major technological or societal changes were likely to enable new approaches:

  • In 2003/4, the opportunity was to build at the application layer of the internet, leveraging the core infrastructure investments of the dot-com bubble era.  
  • By the mid 2000s, it became clear that it would be possible to build new networks (social networks, marketplaces, etc) as a specific, and very powerful type of internet application.  
  • Then, as broad-based networks began to solidify in the early 2010s, we began to look for narrower vertical networks (for example, in learning and health), new layers of enabling infrastructure (developer tools, fintech), and decentralized computing systems (blockchains and cryptocurrencies).  
  • As internet applications became even more central to the global economy in the late 2010s, we looked to leverage them to broaden access to key resources (such as knowledge, capital, and wellbeing), and also looked for opportunities to increase our trust in these key systems.  
  • Approaching 2020, with the rapid acceleration of the climate crisis becoming clear, we sought to identify transformational startup opportunities to mitigate its impacts, accelerate the energy transition, and adapt to a changing world.  
  • Today, we’re seeing LLMs and AI exponentially increase the ubiquity and usefulness of software everywhere, while also underscoring the need to invent new forms of digital trust .

Looking back at this 20-year history of investing across distinct moments in time and many diverse sectors, we recently asked ourselves: what is the through line in how we approach investing?  

Here’s how we describe it: 

USV invests at the edge of large markets being transformed by technological and societal pressures

Across time, sectors, and technologies, we have consistently looked for, and will continue to look for, a common set of attributes that we believe lead to novel products and experiences:

The “edge” of large markets is often the best place to introduce new ideas and approaches. Startups at the edge often start out looking weird , yet have the potential to take on incumbents in surprising new ways.  

For example, early social media didn’t look like it was competing with traditional media; early cryptocurrencies didn’t look like they were competing with the financial system; many consumer learning products don’t look like they are competing head-on with the legacy education system.

New technologies enable behaviors that weren’t previously possible.  In hindsight, these new behaviors are obvious, but they require experimentation to explore as they emerge. Rapid experimentation is the fastest path to progress – but change is hard. Institutions and incumbents resist it. 

“Edge” approaches – such as consumer-first, prosumer, developer-first, and open source models – have the potential to avoid market gatekeepers and enable freer experimentation.  We love them for this reason.

Technological and societal pressures can upset existing market structures, creating openings for new companies and networks to meet the market in new ways.  

Technological pressures can include new technologies and platforms, such as new operating systems, crypto assets, and the AI stack.  The most profound technological pressures introduce new business models, often ones that incumbents are structurally unable to pursue. 

Societal pressures can include planetary forces like the climate crisis, loss of faith in civic institutions, or changing social norms and attitudes.  These pressures can rapidly produce changes in behavior that would otherwise have been unimaginable or at least improbable.

Together, these pressures can cause otherwise static market structures to become dynamic. Startups have the opportunity to position themselves in alignment with these pressures, allowing themselves to work “ downhill ” against legacy incumbents.  We continually seek out these pressures and look for opportunities for startups to draft behind them.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead at the next 20 years of investing at USV: as global change accelerates, and as new technologies emerge and mature, we will continue to develop and publish specific theses about where we see opportunity.  As we do so, we expect to stay consistent with this overarching framework of seeking out opportunities at the edge of large markets, propelled by the tailwinds of transformative pressure.

We are excited to partner with founders who are aligned with our thesis and we look forward to exploring the edge together.

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Humanities LibreTexts

8.3: Literary Thesis Statements

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  • Heather Ringo & Athena Kashyap
  • City College of San Francisco via ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative

The Literary Thesis Statement

Literary essays are argumentative or persuasive essays. Their purpose is primarily analysis, but analysis for the purposes of showing readers your interpretation of a literary text. So the thesis statement is a one to two sentence summary of your essay's main argument, or interpretation.

Just like in other argumentative essays, the thesis statement should be a kind of opinion based on observable fact about the literary work.

Thesis Statements Should Be

  • This thesis takes a position. There are clearly those who could argue against this idea.
  • Look at the text in bold. See the strong emphasis on how form (literary devices like symbolism and character) acts as a foundation for the interpretation (perceived danger of female sexuality).
  • Through this specific yet concise sentence, readers can anticipate the text to be examined ( Huckleberry Finn) , the author (Mark Twain), the literary device that will be focused upon (river and shore scenes) and what these scenes will show (true expression of American ideals can be found in nature).

Thesis Statements Should NOT Be

  • While we know what text and author will be the focus of the essay, we know nothing about what aspect of the essay the author will be focusing upon, nor is there an argument here.
  • This may be well and true, but this thesis does not appear to be about a work of literature. This could be turned into a thesis statement if the writer is able to show how this is the theme of a literary work (like "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid) and root that interpretation in observable data from the story in the form of literary devices.
  • Yes, this is true. But it is not debatable. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who could argue with this statement. Yawn, boring.
  • This may very well be true. But the purpose of a literary critic is not to judge the quality of a literary work, but to make analyses and interpretations of the work based on observable structural aspects of that work.
  • Again, this might be true, and might make an interesting essay topic, but unless it is rooted in textual analysis, it is not within the scope of a literary analysis essay. Be careful not to conflate author and speaker! Author, speaker, and narrator are all different entities! See: intentional fallacy.

Thesis Statement Formula

One way I find helpful to explain literary thesis statements is through a "formula":

Thesis statement = Observation + Analysis + Significance

  • Observation: usually regarding the form or structure of the literature. This can be a pattern, like recurring literary devices. For example, "I noticed the poems of Rumi, Hafiz, and Kabir all use symbols such as the lover's longing and Tavern of Ruin "
  • Analysis: You could also call this an opinion. This explains what you think your observations show or mean. "I think these recurring symbols all represent the human soul's desire." This is where your debatable argument appears.
  • Significance: this explains what the significance or relevance of the interpretation might be. Human soul's desire to do what? Why should readers care that they represent the human soul's desire? "I think these recurring symbols all show the human soul's desire to connect with God. " This is where your argument gets more specific.

Thesis statement: The works of ecstatic love poets Rumi, Hafiz, and Kabir use symbols such as a lover’s longing and the Tavern of Ruin to illustrate the human soul’s desire to connect with God .

Thesis Examples

SAMPLE THESIS STATEMENTS

These sample thesis statements are provided as guides, not as required forms or prescriptions.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Literary Device Thesis Statement

The thesis may focus on an analysis of one of the elements of fiction, drama, poetry or nonfiction as expressed in the work: character, plot, structure, idea, theme, symbol, style, imagery, tone, etc.

In “A Worn Path,” Eudora Welty creates a fictional character in Phoenix Jackson whose determination, faith, and cunning illustrate the indomitable human spirit.

Note that the work, author, and character to be analyzed are identified in this thesis statement. The thesis relies on a strong verb (creates). It also identifies the element of fiction that the writer will explore (character) and the characteristics the writer will analyze and discuss (determination, faith, cunning).

The character of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet serves as a foil to young Juliet, delights us with her warmth and earthy wit, and helps realize the tragic catastrophe.

The Genre / Theory Thesis Statement

The thesis may focus on illustrating how a work reflects the particular genre’s forms, the characteristics of a philosophy of literature, or the ideas of a particular school of thought.

“The Third and Final Continent” exhibits characteristics recurrent in writings by immigrants: tradition, adaptation, and identity.

Note how the thesis statement classifies the form of the work (writings by immigrants) and identifies the characteristics of that form of writing (tradition, adaptation, and identity) that the essay will discuss.

Samuel Beckett’s Endgame reflects characteristics of Theatre of the Absurd in its minimalist stage setting, its seemingly meaningless dialogue, and its apocalyptic or nihilist vision.

A close look at many details in “The Story of an Hour” reveals how language, institutions, and expected demeanor suppress the natural desires and aspirations of women.

Generative Questions

One way to come up with a riveting thesis statement is to start with a generative question. The question should be open-ended and, hopefully, prompt some kind of debate.

  • What is the effect of [choose a literary device that features prominently in the chosen text] in this work of literature?
  • How does this work of literature conform or resist its genre, and to what effect?
  • How does this work of literature portray the environment, and to what effect? 
  • How does this work of literature portray race, and to what effect?
  • How does this work of literature portray gender, and to what effect?
  • What historical context is this work of literature engaging with, and how might it function as a commentary on this context?

These are just a few common of the common kinds of questions literary scholars engage with. As you write, you will want to refine your question to be even more specific. Eventually, you can turn your generative question into a statement. This then becomes your thesis statement. For example,

  • How do environment and race intersect in the character of Frankenstein's monster, and what can we deduce from this intersection?

Expert Examples

While nobody expects you to write professional-quality thesis statements in an undergraduate literature class, it can be helpful to examine some examples. As you view these examples, consider the structure of the thesis statement. You might also think about what questions the scholar wondered that led to this statement!

  • "Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as 'the other world,' the antithesis of Europe and therefore civilization, a place where man's vaunted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality" (Achebe 3).
  • "...I argue that the approach to time and causality in Boethius' sixth-century Consolation of Philosophy can support abolitionist objectives to dismantle modern American policing and carceral systems" (Chaganti 144).
  • "I seek to expand our sense of the musico-poetic compositional practices available to Shakespeare and his contemporaries, focusing on the metapoetric dimensions of Much Ado About Nothing. In so doing, I work against the tendency to isolate writing as an independent or autonomous feature the work of early modern poets and dramatists who integrated bibliographic texts with other, complementary media" (Trudell 371).

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa" Research in African Literatures 9.1 , Indiana UP, 1978. 1-15.

Chaganti, Seeta. "Boethian Abolition" PMLA 137.1 Modern Language Association, January 2022. 144-154.

"Thesis Statements in Literary Analysis Papers" Author unknown.  https://resources.finalsite.net/imag...handout__1.pdf  

Trudell, Scott A. "Shakespeare's Notation: Writing Sound in Much Ado about Nothing " PMLA 135.2,  Modern Language Association, March 2020. 370-377.

Contributors and Attributions

Thesis Examples. Authored by: University of Arlington Texas. License: CC BY-NC

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Illustration shows ChatGPT logo and AI Artificial Intelligence words

How to get away with AI-generated essays

Prof Paul Kleiman on putting ChatGPT to the test on his work. Plus letters from Michael Bulley and Dr Paul Flewers

No wonder Robert Topinka found himself in a quandary ( The software says my student cheated using AI. They say they’re innocent. Who do I believe?, 13 February ). To test ChatGPT’s abilities and weaknesses, I asked it to write a short essay on a particular topic that I specialised in. Before looking at what it produced, I wrote my own 100% original short essay on the same topic. I then submitted both pieces to ChatGPT and asked it to identify whether they were written by AI or a human. It immediately identified the first piece as AI-generated. But then it also said that my essay “was probably generated by AI”.

I concluded that if you write well, in logical, appropriate and grammatically correct English, then the chances are that it will be deemed to be AI-generated. To avoid detection, write badly. Prof Paul Kleiman Truro, Cornwall

Robert Topinka gets into a twist about whether his student’s essay was genuine or produced by AI. The obvious solution is for such work not to contribute to the final degree qualification. Then there would be no point in cheating.

Let there be real chat between teachers and students rather than ChatGPT , and let the degree be decided only by exams, with surprise questions, done in an exam room with pen and paper, and not a computer in sight. Michael Bulley Chalon-sur-Saône, France

Dr Robert Topinka overlooks a crucial factor with respect to student cheating – so long as a degree is a requirement to obtain a reasonable job, then chicanery is inevitable. When I left school at 16 in the early 1970s, an administrative job could be had with a few O-levels; when I finished my PhD two decades ago and was looking for that sort of job, each one required A-levels, and often a degree. I was a mature student, studying for my own edification, and so cheating was self-defeating. Cheating will stop being a major problem only when students attend university primarily to learn for the sake of learning and not as a means of gaining employment. Dr Paul Flewers London

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