The thesis statement is the central idea that your paper proves. The rest
of your paper is organized around the thesis statement.
The Old Way The three-pronged thesis statement in preparation for a
five paragraph essay.
Example: In the novel, Fitzgerald discusses that money is the root of LIT ANALYSIS
evil by showing how it corrupts Tom, Daisy, and Gatsby.
Why Get Rid of It? This type of thesis is good when you’re teaching THESIS
eighth graders how a thesis governs the structure of a paper, but as we STATEMENT
move away from the five paragraph essay and into more sophisticated
ideas, we take off the training wheels.
The New Way The thesis should reflect all of what you have to prove
without conforming to the artificial three-pronged format. If this leads
to a paper that is longer than five paragraphs, but is more complete, BODY
that is okay.
Example: The idea of money being the root of all evil is prevalent in
the book through the carefully-selected use of characterization.
DO: Mention the title and author of the novel.
DO NOT: Provide an artificial “grabber” to “get the
NEXT SENTENCE OR TWO
DO: Elaborate on the subject of the
book by providing brief background THESIS
information (no more than two
sentences). Provide only details
relevant to your thesis.
DO NOT: Provide irrelevant or drawn
out summary of the novel.
NEXT specific literary
SENTENCE OR device(s) you
will address in BODY
In the novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby
creates a world of illusion and escape. Throughout the book, Gatsby
tries to cultivate a lifestyle that exists purely in his mind so he can one
day recapture the memories and connection with his long-time love LIT ANALYSIS
interest, Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby changes everything so he can win
Daisy over; however, the end result is a life of loneliness and misery THESIS
when Gatsby’s dream is shattered. Fitzgerald develops many powerful
internal and external conflicts that serve as road blocks in Gatsby’s
attempt at achieving his ultimate goal. Due to these ever-present
conflicts, Gatsby’s never-ending quest to find true love and happiness
is thwarted when he is brought to his premature demise. As a result,
it is clear that many of the conflicts in the story are the product of the
fact that people are blinded by reality and must be willing to accept
the truth in their lives. BODY
paragraph (one or Topic Sentence (1)
Transition to First
Refine Topic Sentence (2) Evidence (a few words) LIT ANALYSIS
Introduce evidence (a
Quote Evidence (3)
few words) THESIS
Analyze Evidence (4)
Transition to Second
Evidence (a few words)
Introduce evidence (a few words) INTRODUCTION
Quote Evidence (5)
Repeat Cycle BODY
Analyze Evidence (6)
Reconnect to the Thesis (7)
It is evident that one of the richest and most despicable characters of the
novel is Daisy Buchanan. Fitzgerald uses distinct characterization to show
that Daisy is concerned only with herself and is oblivious to what goes on
around her. She is an “East Egger”—a member of an old money family
living on the more fashionable side of Long Island. Daisy, though beautiful LIT ANALYSIS
on the outside, has nothing else to offer. There is no depth to her because
she obsesses over material possessions. Self-centered and arrogant, she THESIS
demands that the attention be on her, and she gives little concern for her
three-year-old daughter, Pam, unless she wishes to display her (16; 117).
When she begins an affair with Gatsby, a man who loves her with all his
heart, she does it not for her love of Gatsby but to get back at her husband
Tom. Despite Tom’s infidelity, Daisy is comfortable with her life and knows INTRODUCTION
she will not leave him. Her relationship with Gatsby is nothing more than
a game to her, for she plays with his emotions and allows him to believe
that she will leave Tom. She even lets him take the blame after she
accidentally runs over Tom’s mistress, Myrtle (143). Nothing but herself
matters to Daisy, for others are obsolete or simply pawns to be used.
Daisy’s characterization shows that she lives life without any real purpose
and relies solely on her unlimited wealth to get ahead in the world. CONCLUSION
Summary of Major Points
What This Means to the Rest of Us /
The “So What” Factor / NO
ARTIFICIAL ZINGERS! BODY
Through the use of conflict, The Great Gatsby shows that people are
not always willing to accept reality if it clouds their perception of
their utopian lives. Fitzgerald demonstrates the power that many
internal and external conflicts have on various characters, as they fail LIT ANALYSIS
to realize their true places in the world. As a result of these people
being unwilling to see the true nature of their lives, they are THESIS
consumed by these idealistic visions that take over every fiber of
their being. The characters who are blinded by the reality of their
current situations all make rash and poorly-thought out decisions
that lead to their emptiness and unhappiness. In the end, it is clear
that it is important for people to be true to themselves and not to
create a fantasy world that is impossible to live up to based on their
unrealistic definitions of life.