Monday December 3

I’m away at a subject council meeting today so here’s what you’re working on:

Your thesis statement. (See Google Classroom) This is due today and so is your final synthesis paper.

How to Generate a Good Thesis Statement

A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes.
It will:

  1. take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, that is, there could be an equally valid counter-argument.
  2. deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment.
    develop one main idea.
  3. assert your conclusions about a subject.

Brainstorm your topic:

Write down everything you can think of that’s related to your topic. You have already done this, but you may wish to revisit your brainstorming and expand on initial ideas.

Narrow it down:

Review your brainstorming and look for ideas that come up more than once. Start making connections. Identify things that wouldn’t be obvious to most readers of the literary work upon first glance.

Can you take your topic and turn it into a question? (Please note: for the purposes of illustration only, Sherlock Holmes will be used in the next examples.)

For example, if you wanted to look at the role of Watson as a foil for Sherlock Holmes, you might ask “What function does Watson serve in the Sherlock Holmes novels?” Your next step is to answer the question. Your answer can become the basis for a thesis statement.

Take a position on the topic.
Watson’s primary role in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles is as a foil for Sherlock Holmes.


Be specific.
What are Watson’s characteristics?
What are Holmes’s?
How does the author depict Holmes’s more unpleasant characteristics?
What are the specific words, phrases, or examples of imagery used?
What is the significance of having Watson as a narrator?
This might lead you to…


In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle positions John Watson as a loyal and sympathetic narrator, and foil, to contrast Sherlock Holmes’s more antisocial qualities, which both emphasizes Holmes’s quirky character traits, while giving the reader someone likable with whom they can identify.

This is much more complex than just saying “Watson’s role is as a foil.”