The thesis is the map for the whole essay. A weak thesis will get the reader to nowhere in particular. A strong thesis will lead the reader to your brilliant insight or discovery.
A good thesis will do five things:
- Announce the broad Topic of the essay.
Ex: The character of King Orfeo in the Middle English poem Sir Orfeo.
- Delineate the Specific Area you will take within that broader topic.
Ex: The cultural/political identity of King Orfeo.
- Indicate the primary Opposition to your argument (what you don't agree with).
Ex: He is modeled on heroes of French romance.
- Indicate your Opinion concerning that Specific Area.
Ex: He is modeled on heroes of Anglo-Saxon literature (not French romance).
- Suggest what kinds of Evidence you will use to support your claims.
Ex: I explore the hero's cultural identity through features such as battle tactic, residences, and his experience of the forest landscape.
Final Thesis: Although King Orfeo [Topic] appears to be modeled on the heroes of French [specific area - cultural identity] chivalric romance [opposition], in fact/nevertheless, his dwelling, experience of the forest, and choice of battle tactic [evidence] all indicate he is modeled on the hero of Anglo-Saxon literature [my opinion].
After you write your thesis, "test" its quality with the following questions:
- Does my thesis announce the broad Topic?
- Does it delineate the Specific Area I will take within that broader topic?
- Does it indicate my primary Opposition?
- Does it reflect my Opinion on that focused topic?
- Does it suggest what types of Evidence I will be using to support my claims
Evidence (what kind of evidence will you use to support your opinion?).
Using the model provided on the previous page, compose a thesis in the space below:
Thesis: Although [the Opposition clause]
in fact, nevertheless,...
Run it through the test above.