Thesis Activity

Thesis Activity

One way to think about a thesis statement is:

observation + opinion (the "why" aspect) = thesis

An effective thesis is one that is not obvious; rather it is one that is discussible, arguable, and interesting.

  • Avoid self-evident statements.

In the US, movie stars are greatly admired.

  • A strong thesis will give readers an idea of the general direction of your paper and the evidence you will provide.

Because definitions of obscenity change as society changes, the Supreme Court has handed down three contradictory decisions on censorship in the past five years.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • A thesis must be a complete sentence(s), not a fragment(s).
  • A thesis should not be worded as a question.
  • A thesis should neither be too broad nor too specific.
  • A thesis should not contain elements which are extraneous or irrelevant to your paper.
  • A thesis should avoid phrases like I think and in my opinion because they weaken the writer's argument.

Having said all of that, let's venture into never-never land, take a trip to the world of happily-ever-after. Let's look at fairy tales.

Take a common fairy tale. Little Red Riding Hood, for example. Your average tale of good vs. evil, right?

In my opinion, Little Red Riding Hood is a classic tale of good versus evil.

Now, there's a thesis that is sure to keep you up at night. Interesting. Innovative. Imaginative. I think not.

Let's try something else. How about:

Because she dares to defy societal norms of acceptable female behavior, Little Red Riding Hood faces death at the hands of the Big Bad Wolf, who embodies patriarchy.

Little Red Riding Hood serves as a feminist tale, demonstrating how an independent, intelligent woman subverts the entrenched forces of male power and privilege.

The forest in Little Red Riding Hood--with its various elements of danger, fear, and foreboding--symbolizes a young girl's rite of passage into womanhood; by challenging the elements in the forest, the naive and trusting Little Red Riding Hood emerges an empowered, mature, confident young woman.

Television shows and movies also offer a wealth of possible thesis statements. Consider the following:

As the middle child, Jan Brady is insecure and demonstrates a negative self-perception: she feels inferior to Marcia, who embodies the qualities of the "ideal" teenager and to Cindy, the "innocent" child and center of the family's attentions.

While appearing to be a simplistic situation comedy about a group of castaways, Gilligan's Island is actually a complex representation of vice; each of the characters represents one of the seven deadly sins.

While Star Trek: The Next Generation may appear to represent an ideal version of a multicultural, gender-equal society, the command structure on the Enterprise, headed by Picard and Riker, reinscribes western, patriarchal notions of power.

Although praised for its realism, Saving Private Ryan glorifies American patriotism and heroism, excluding alternative perspectives.

Now it is your turn. Construct an interesting, compelling thesis using a fairy tale, television show, popular song, or movie.

Luisa Giulianetti 
Student Learning Center, University of California, Berkeley
©1998 UC Regents

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.