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					12 Angry Men

  Literary TOOLBOX:
  theme statement
  A central idea or “truth” that a work of literature
  expresses
  A comment that a work of literature makes on the human
  condition
        Theme Versus Subject
   Subject: what a work is about. It can usually
    be expressed in one word. For example, “Love”
    is a subject of Romeo and Juliet
   Theme: What does the work say about the
    subject? It should be a complete sentence or
    statement. For example, “In Romeo and Juliet,
    we learn that adolescent romance can be a
    stronger force than family ties.”
            Topic vs. Theme
Match the topic with the theme statement:
     Courage Revenge Jealousy Dreams
   Be careful how you treat other people
    because they may treat you the same.
   Face your fears and you can defeat them.
   Do not wish for what others possess. Be
    happy with what you have.
   Work for what you want in life and you
    can achieve any goal.
     Theme must go beyond the
             book
   To be a true theme, the truth or comment
    must apply to people or to life in general,
    not just the characters in the book. For
    example, “In Beauty and the Beast, Belle
    learns that true beauty comes from
    within,” only applies to the story. Instead,
    express the theme like this: “In Beauty
    and the Beast, we learn through Belle and
    the beast that true beauty comes from
    within.”
    Multiple themes are possible!
   Many books have more than one theme,
    so do not think that there is one “right”
    theme to any book you read. In fact,
    most great literature has multiple themes.
    Sample Theme Statements
   The theme of The Old Man and the Sea is that
    striving, struggling, and suffering are the only
    ways to achieve victory.
   In My Antonia, Willa Cather demonstrates that
    the land is what makes people happy and
    fulfilled.
   In Lord of the Flies, William Golding suggests
    that a democracy is better than a dictatorship.
                  Pop Quiz
Which of the following is a valid theme statement
   according to the above guidelines?
a. The true meaning of love.

b. Mrs. Farquar learns that British people can't
   dance.
c. Because the main character commits suicide,
   the theme is that we should all commit suicide.
d. It is better to have loved and lost than never to
   have loved at all.
    Themes must be supported!
   Just because works can have multiple themes, it
    does not mean that the theme can be anything
    that you want.
   In order for a theme to be justified, there must
    be specific, concrete evidence from the text. For
    example, if your potential theme statement is
    that “Poverty creates tough, self-reliant people,”
    then the book should contain examples of poor
    characters who develop toughness and self-
    reliance.
      This is where the thesis statement comes in…
             Write your own
   Write a theme statement for 12 Angry
    Men.
Five Ways of Looking At
       a Thesis
      by Erik Simpson

       Mr. Krake’s Title:
“Moving from a 5 to a 6”
        1      A thesis says something
                a little strange.
A: By telling the story of Westley and Buttercup's triumph
   over evil, The Princess Bride affirms the power of true love.
B: Although the main plot of The Princess Bride rests on the
   natural power of true love, an examination of the way that
   fighting sticks (baseball bats, tree branches, and swords)
   link the frame story to the romance plot suggests that the
   grandson is being trained in true love, that it is not natural
   but socialized.
► Both of these statements, I would contend, are perfectly
   correct. Only the second one says something, well, weird.
   Weird is good. Sentence A encourages the paper to
   produce precisely the evidence that everybody always talks
   about in The Princess Bride; sentence B ensures that the
   paper will talk about something new.
     1    A thesis says something
           a little strange.
► Women   are oppressed in Maria.
  Frankenstein warns society against taking
  science too far. The creature starts out
  good and becomes bad because of society.
  Yup. How can you make those things
  unusual?
► Many good papers start by pointing out
  something that seems not to make sense
  and then making sense of it.
      2 A thesis creates an
 argument that builds from one
       point to the next.
A: The Rules and Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey
  both tell women how to act.
B: By looking at The Rules, a modern conduct book
  for women, we can see how Jane Austen's
  Northanger Abbey is itself like a conduct book,
  questioning the rules for social success in her
  society and offering a new model.
► This applies mostly to comparison/contrast papers.
  If the components of your argument can be
  rearranged without changing the thesis, your
  thesis has a problem.
     3 A thesis fits comfortably
 into the Magic Thesis Sentence
             (MTS).
► The   MTS:
► By looking at _____, one can see _____,
  which most readers don't see; this is
  important because _____.
► Try it out with the above examples. I think
  it will please you.
   4 A thesis says something
  about the text(s) you discuss
                 exclusively.
► Back  to the first example:
A: By telling the story of Westley and Buttercup's
  triumph over evil, The Princess Bride affirms the
  power of true love.
B: Although the main plot of The Princess Bride rests
  on the natural power of true love, an examination
  of the way that fighting sticks (baseball bats, tree
  branches, and swords) link the frame story to the
  romance plot suggests that the grandson is being
  trained in true love, that it is not natural but
  socialized.
     4 A thesis says something
    about the text(s) you discuss
                     exclusively.
►  Try substituting other works:
A: By telling the story of Darcy and Elizabeth's triumph over
   evil, Pride and Prejudice affirms the power of true love.
► Sure. Bad sign.
B: Although the main plot of Pride and Prejudice rests on the
   natural power of true love, an examination of the way that
   fighting sticks (baseball bats, tree branches, and swords)
   link the frame story to the romance plot suggests that the
   grandson is being trained in true love, that it is not natural
   but socialized.
► Um, nope. Good sign.
        5 A thesis makes a lot of
        information irrelevant.
► One  more time (so sue me, I like this
  example):
A: By telling the story of Westley and
  Buttercup's triumph over evil, The Princess
  Bride affirms the power of true love.
► A plot summary of The Princess Bride would
  support this thesis. Bad sign. A strong thesis
  excludes most of the text in order to make a
  specific claim.
          5 A thesis makes a lot of
          information irrelevant.
B: Although the main plot of The Princess Bride rests on the
   natural power of true love, an examination of the way that
   fighting sticks (baseball bats, tree branches, and swords)
   link the frame story to the romance plot suggests that the
   grandson is being trained in true love, that it is not natural
   but socialized.
► This excludes most of the text. Good sign. Your reader
   knows precisely which parts of it you'll be talking about
   and why.
►    (This page was copied from
    http://www.english.upenn.edu/~esimpson/Teaching/thesis
    .html 1/31/03 with the kind permission of Erik Simpson for
    use in teaching.)

				
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