Weak thesis statements often come in two different forms.
The most common weak thesis statement is "self-evident".
In other words, this student has set out to prove a proposition which
is not worth arguing. Saying that Shakespeare's purpose in Macbeth
is to prove that Macbeth is a bad man or that killing a king is a
reprehensible act may be true, but is it worth writing a whole essay to
prove? Seeking to prove that Mark Twain condemned racism in Huckleberry
Finn is not worth the effort. However, seeking to understand how
Huck overcomes his racist upbringing may very well be worth exploring.
"The North won
the Civil War."
"The North finally won the Civil War in 1865."
"After years of the bloodiest fighting in U.S. history, the North
finally emerged victorious in the Civil War in 1865."
- All of these are
obvious, irrefutable statements of historical fact, not thesis
statements. They describe what happened but make no
argument. Adding phrases and information makes them longer,
"The North won the Civil War
mainly because of its industrial superiority."
- This is a better
thesis statement because it makes an argument that can be
disagreed with. It goes beyond stating a fact and tries to
answer the question, "Why?" It is likely to lead
to a more interesting paper instead of a paraphrased encyclopedia
Other times the student has begun to articulate an interesting thesis
but has not yet expressed his idea in the clearest words possible. To
improve the clarity of the idea will require discussion and revision.
Often times, a student only discovers the great thesis statement after
writing a complete rough draft. Look at your concluding paragraph and
compare your main idea with the one expressed in your introduction. See
if you haven't found a much better way of articulating your thesis. Or
take the time to talk with a friend, a parent, or your teacher after
you have written a draft of your thesis. Many times bouncing an idea
off of another person will help you find the way to sharpen and clarify
Thesis Statement (Darling et al)
A Thesis Statement (Purdue OWL)
Paragraphs (Darling et al)
Paragraph Essay (Darling et al)
About Literature (Darling et al)
Your Focus (Powerpoint) (Purdue OWL)
Your Argument (Powerpoint) (Purdue OWL)
Writing: The Rhetorical Situation (Powerpoint) (Purdue OWL)
Writer's Block (Purdue Owl)
With Writing Anxiety (Purdue Owl)
About Literature (Purdue Owl)
About Fiction (Purdue Owl)