All terms

What is a thesis?

The central argument or idea presented in a written work.

The Heart of Your Writing: Understanding the Thesis

Your thesis is the beating heart of your writing, driving and directing your words, thoughts, and ideas towards a clear purpose. It is the central claim or argument that you make in response to a question or prompt, and it should be expressed throughout your work in order to help guide your reader to your ultimate conclusion. Whether you are writing a literary analysis or a persuasive argument, your thesis is the foundation upon which you build your piece, and it should be carefully crafted and nuanced in order to reflect the complexity of your topic. Remember to avoid vague generalizations, and instead strive to create a specific and strong statement that your writing can support and expand upon as you delve deeper into your subject matter.

Putting Theory into Practice: Two Examples of Thesis in Literary Works

A thesis statement can be seen in a wide range of literary works, from poetry to prose. Here are two examples of how writers have incorporated a strong thesis into their creative works:

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

In The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway uses the story of an old fisherman's struggle to catch a fish as a metaphor for the larger theme of human perseverance in the face of insurmountable odds, as expressed through his thesis statement: "A man can be destroyed but not defeated" (Hemingway, p. 103).

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot's seminal poem, The Waste Land, is a complex and layered exploration of post-World War I disillusionment, with a thesis statement that captures this complex mood: "April is the cruelest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / Dull roots with spring rain" (Eliot, lines 1-4).