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Possible Thesis Statements For The Scarlet Letter

Thesis Statements


- Thesis = topic + your opinion

- It can sometimes help to use the word "because" in your thesis to force yourself to add an opinion. 

- A thesis must be debatable, which means that someone else could argue against it. 

- Your argument should be manageable given the parameters of the assignment. 

- Usually the thesis is a single sentence that comes at the end of your introduction. Your teacher should be able to identify it easily. After reading it, your readers should know what the central argument of your essay is. 

- Each body paragraph should connect back to the thesis. If you can't explain how a detail proves your point, reconsider using it. Ask yourself, "Why is this evidence important? How does it prove my thesis?"


Common Thesis Problems


Example Thesis

The Scarlet Letter is a novel that many readers will enjoy and others will not.”

The Scarlet Letter is a novel about a woman named Hester Prynne who is publicly shamed by her community.”

“In this essay I will discuss how the major themes of The Scarlet Letter relate to Pearl.”

“Adultery is bad.”

“The Scarlet Letter highlights how internal conflicts can affect a character.”

The Scarlet Letter is my favorite novel.”

The Scarlet Letter is a brilliant novel that masterfully shows…”
Problem Explained

Not an argument!


Just summary!


Don't use personal pronouns! Also, this is a basic observation, not a specific argument.

This seems too simplistic.

Be more specific: which internal conflicts and which characters?

Great, but is the idea relevant for this essay? Probably not.

This example editorializes, or gives too much personal opinion about the success of the novel. Just stick to your argument!

If you’re going to write a winning essay, you definitely need a thesis. That’s why I decided to make you a step-by-step video on how to write an awesome thesis statement.

Writing a thesis statement is all about figuring out the main idea for your paper, and then explaining that main idea to your reader. But where to begin?

Begin with the question—the question you’re answering with your essay. We’ll use The Scarlet Letter as an example.

Let’s say your teacher gave you the following question as your essay topic:

What role does the scarlet letter A play in Hawthorne’s novel, and why is it important?

Thesis Statement Step 1:

SYMBOLS, not CYMBALS. Find out more about symbols and other terms of literary analysis in the Recap Resource.

Assuming you’ve read the book (and really, you can’t write a paper without having read the book) answer the question off the top of your head.

Question: What role does the scarlet letter A play in Hawthorne’s novel, and why is it important?

Preliminary thesis: In The Scarlet Letter, the letter A is asymbol.

That’s a good start, but you haven’t answered the whole question. Remember that the second part of the question is: and why is the A important?

Thesis Statement Step 2:

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a complicated man. What prompted him to write The Scarlet Letter? Here's one theory. Here's another.

So now you need to refine your answer. At this point, you’ll probably need to look back at your notes about the book to figure out why the A is important. After you do, revise your thesis statement.

Question: What role does the scarlet letter A play in Hawthorne’s novel, and why is it important?

Revised thesis:In The Scarlet Letter, the letter A is more than a symbol; it actually helps define Hester’s identity.

That’s not a bad thesis, but remember that your thesis sends the reader off into your essay not just knowing what you’re going to write about, but how you’re going to make your case. In other words, you want to give your reader a little bit more direction.

This is where examples come in.

Thesis Statement Step 3:

Before you finish refining your thesis, you need to know which examples from the book are going to help you make your case. For this question, we might look at the way the meaning of the scarlet letter A changes over the course of the novel. First, it defines Hester as an adulteress. Later, it shows how “able” Hester is. And finally, it comes to stand for “angel” as Hester takes control of her own identity.

So, with these examples in mind, let’s revise that thesis statement one more time.

Question: What role does the scarlet letter A play in Hawthorne’s novel, and why is it important?

Finalized thesis, version 1: In The Scarlet Letter, the letter A is more than a symbol; it actually helps define Hester’s identity, transforming her from an “adulteress,” to a woman who’s “able,” and finally, into an “angel.”

That’s a great thesis (if I do say so myself), but I want to point out something that happened as I wrote that thesis. Sometimes, when you start working with examples, an even deeper, more nuanced response to the question emerges.

So here’s an optional final step.

Thesis Statement Step 4:

Ask yourself: Am I really saying all I could be saying with my thesis? Am I really saying it in the clearest possible way? Or are my examples leading me to tweak my thesis and say something a little different, a little deeper?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, revise again.

Question: What role does the scarlet letter A play in Hawthorne’s novel, and why is it important?

Finalized thesis, version 2: In The Scarlet Letter, the letter A isn’t just a symbol of Hester’s downfall; as Hester moves from “adulteress,” to a woman who’s “able,” and finally, to an “angel,” the A becomes a symbol of Hester’s “agency” in defining her own identity.

Thesis Statements: Four Steps to a Great Essay

Get Psyched! Check out our eight-part 60second Recap® video tutorial mini-series, Write a Great Essay!

Let’s look at those steps one last time. To write your thesis statement:

1. Answer the question.
2. Refine your answer, making sure you’ve answered all parts of the question.
3. Refine your answer into a more focused thesis statement by including a reference to the examples you plan to use.
4. Refine your thesis so that it answers the question not just in a focused way, but also in a creative, thoughtful, even profound way.

There you have it: An awesome thesis statement, and a solid foundation for an A+ essay.


Ready to write your A+ Essay?
Step 1: Think Like a Prosecutor. Read about it here.


Thesis Statements: Four Steps to a Great Essay was last modified: October 11th, 2015 by 60second Recap

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