Thesis Workshop
English 1B Honors
• Topic:
Thesis Statement
– Title and Author
– Maybe add a Theme or Topic from the piece
– Ex. The portrayal of women in Ernest Hemingway’s
“Soldier’s Home”
• Controlling Idea
– Your take on the piece, your interpretation
– Arguable
– Ex. The portrayal of women in Ernest Hemingway’s
“Soldier’s Home” makes women emblematic of
society’s constraints.
Look at Your Fish
• Patterns: Several of these can add up to a
controlling idea
• The first stanza is optimistic, while the second stanza
is pessimistic
• The rhyme scheme is solid at the beginning of the
poem but uses slant rhymes at the end
• The poem moves from abstract ideals to concrete
• George Nelson’s “War is No Good” uses the structure
and content of his poem to mimic the loss of
innocence in wartime.
Look at Your Fish
• Problems: Coming up for an answer to a
problem in a piece can be your controlling
• Whom is the speaker absolving in “The Poet
as Hero”
• Why is the German mother singled out in
“Glory of Women”?
• Why does Krebs leave for Kansas City at the
end of “Soldier’s Home”?
Look at Your Fish
• Listing: Grouped ideas can add up to your
controlling idea
• Use of personification
• Change in tone toward the end
• Surprise endings in lines and in the poem
• Theme of war’s annihilation
• Sara Teasdale’s “There Will Come Soft Rains”
lulls the reader into identifying with Nature only
to ambush him or her with extinction.
Look at Your Fish
• Themes: Link themes to stylistic choices for
simplest thesis or show tension for more
complex thesis
• Simple: Rupert Brooke’s poem “
The Soldier” enhances its patriotic theme
through its use of poetic form, natural
imagery, and personification of England.
• Complex: While Rupert Brooke’s poem “The
Soldier” enhances its patriotic theme through
poetic form, its imagery and syntax reveal an
uneasiness with the powers of patriotism.
Types of Controlling Ideas
• Straightforward
• Opposing View: take a first reading of the poem and argue its
• Hidden Clues
• Secondary Theme:
– While Wilfred Owen’s poem “Dulce Et Decorum Est” certainly
provides an argument against propaganda, its use of imagery and
poetic form suggest a prejudice against soldiers suffering from shell
• Two Ideas Pieced Together:
– In John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields,” the speaker celebrates the
body of the soldier but denigrates the process of war.
– In “The Poet and War,” Albert Ehrenstein uses poetic form to show
the speaker’s isolation from other soldiers and uses imagery to show
his craving for death.
Things to Avoid
• Too Obvious: In the poem “Glory of Women,”
Siegfried Sassoon mocks the women who stay home
during the war.
• Too Broad: “The Mother” uses many different
techniques to show its themes.
• Too Specific: “The Mother” uses alliteration to show
• Need Too Much Outside Information: Sassoon’s
“Lamentations” mocks the established honor system
of the British army during WWI in order to show the
hypocrisy of their rankings.
Critique these Thesis
In-Class Writing
• Write your working thesis at the top of a
horizontal sheet of paper
• Look over your list of evidence
• Free-write for additional ideas. How
would I convince someone that this was
• Go back for more evidence: Look at
your fish!

1BH_Presentations_files/Thesis Workshop Today