How to Write a Good Analytical Essay Thesis Statement
A good thesis statement should announce the main argument you are going to prove in your analytical essay. By the way you present your argument, the reader (who is usually your instructor) will judge your abilities in critical thinking and logical reasoning. Follow these simple rules to develop a powerful thesis statement:
- Avoid making obvious points.
- Compose your thesis statement in two parts.
- Be specific.
- Put your thesis statement in the right place.
- Try to fit your thesis statement into one sentence.
- Follow a relevant pattern.
A strong thesis statement should be debatable. Claims such as “X is a great American novel” or “Y is one of the central characters in the novel” are never good as thesis statements. If you feel that no one would argue against what you have said, consider revising your thesis.
A general rule is that a thesis statement should answer both “what?” and “why?” questions. “What” refers to the claim you are making about the text. “Why” is the explanation of why it is important or why your readers should care. For example, “by portraying Sonny as a person who uses drugs to cope with his fear and sorrow, James Baldwin promotes a view of drug addicts being people who deserve compassion rather than condemnation.” The first part of this thesis statement answers the “what?” question (what aspect of the novel you decided to focus on), while the second part answers the “why?” question (why you consider it important).
Do not write that anything “has influenced the writer’s style greatly.” Specify the nature of such an influence: “The tragic death of the writer’s wife and son made his novels written in that period increasingly grim and depressing.”
Regardless of how long your essay is, your thesis statement should be the last sentence of your first paragraph. Never leave your thesis statement for the conclusion – it is a gross mistake.
Sometimes, a thesis statement can be longer than that, but one sentence is generally enough. Avoid verbosity and minor details. Your thesis statement should present your main point, not summarize your whole paper.
If you are utterly confused about how to craft a proper thesis statement for your analytical essay, there is nothing wrong in using a time-proven pattern. One of the strongest structures is “although X (may seem true about this character or literary work), a closer reading suggests that Y (is more true).” Another effective form is “if we look closer at X (a particular aspect of a literary work), we discover Y (a meaning or significance that might have been otherwise overlooked).”