The best theses statements answer “how” or “why


The best thesis statements answer “how” or “why.”


A) Emily Dickinson writes about death in “The Bustle in a House,” “Because I

Could Not Stop for Death,” and “My Life Closed Twice” because writing is a source of comfort during times of personal grief.

(Chronological order)

I. Responses to family tragedies

A. Mother’s chronic illness and death

B. Nephew’s death

C. “The Bustle in a House”

II. Unrequited love

A. Forbidden first love

1. Married man

2. Tuberculosis victim

3. His death

B. Rejection by second love

C. “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”

III Other Losses

A. Critic’s rejection of poetry

B. Deaths of friends during Civil War

C. Dickinson’s chronic kidney disease

D. “My Life Closed Twice”


B. While some describe death as a dreadful end, Dickinson uses figurative language in “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” to cover the ideas that death is neither fearful nor final. (Developmental order)

(Analysis of stanzas 1-6) or (Analysis by figure of speech: Similes, metaphors, symbols, and personification)


C. Hawthorne most often uses the character of Pearl--descriptions, behavior, and an associated symbol--to relate the theme of truth in his novel The Scarlet Letter.

(Developmental order)

I. Description

II. Behavior

A. Actions

B. Words

III. Symbol of light

IV. Theme


(Order of importance)-Three Dickinson poems on nature or on isolation or on death or three of her “puzzle” poems.


D. While J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield and Mark Twain’s Huck Finn have similar backgrounds and personalities, Huck’s friendships provide him with a sense of security and coping skills, the absence of which leads to Holden’s eventual breakdown.

(Comparison/Contrast order--Alternating, not Block)

I. Dysfunctional family

A. Holden

1. Parents

2. Phoebe

B. Huck

1. Deceased mother

2. Pap

3. Widow Douglass

II. Rejection of social expectations

A. Holden

1. School

2. Anti-social behaviors

3. Immoral choices

B. Huck

1. School

2. Behavior

3. Illegal choice

III. Decisions

A. Holden

1. Freedom

2. Breakdown

B. Huck

1. Freedom for himself

2. Freedom for Jim

3. Loss of his soul

4. Maturity