Writing a Thesis Statement for a Literary Analysis

A thesis statement for a persuasive essay makes an opinionated claim that can be argued or debated. As you write a thesis statement for a literary analysis, keep in mind that your essay will do two things: 1) provide your interpretation of a work and 2) be persuasive. For your interpretation to be persuasive, it will have to support your argument with ample evidence and a detailed analysis of relevant portions of the text you’re examining. Let’s review the six questions to ask yourself before writing the thesis:

· How do you feel about your topic?

· What is important or relevant about your topic?

· What do you want to say about it?

· Why would someone want to read your essay?

· What does your audience need to know about your topic to understand it?

· What is the best order to present the information your readers need to know?

Let’s also review the various forms that a persuasive response to literature can take:

· An interpretation—explains a text’s overall meaning or significance, explaining your reasoning for this interpretation with supporting evidence from the text.

· A critique—also called a critical response or a review, it provides your personal judgment about a text, supported by reasons and references to the work of art and often secondary sources.

· A formal analysis—different from a critique in that examines a work of art by breaking it down into various elements to discover how the parts interrelate to create meaning of effect.

· A cultural analysis—examines a work of art by relating it to the historical, social, cultural, or political situations in which it was written to show how the author was influenced by personal experiences, events, prevailing attitudes, or contemporary values.


1. Make your thesis relevant to both yourself and your audience. (If you don’t care about it, your reader won’t either. Likewise, you need to consider selecting a topic that will be interesting—on a basic human level—to anyone reading the paper)

2. To help you narrow down your thesis to something specific, first make a list of potential topics. Then re-read the work to identify a pattern, problem (something peculiar that doesn’t seem right to you), issue, or point of interest. Finally, decide on a point that you will be able to discuss with lots of details and evidence from the text.

3. To gather your “evidence,” skim over the work to make a list of the details that support your point (being sure to note page numbers).

4. Be sure that your thesis avoids the obvious (making a claim that most readers come to on their own), supports its points with evidence from the text, and uses careful reasoning to explain how the evidence relates to your interpretation.

5. Remember—a good interpretive paper does NOT try to cover all elements of a poem, short story, or play (since this would create an unfocused and superficial interpretation). Instead, it should focus on one specific element—irony, point of view, imagery, character, setting, tone, etc.


To research your topic, you need only to read the text. You may find it helpful, however, to do a basic Internet search on Susan Glaspell and her play. Once you’re satisfied with your topic and thesis, go back through the text to gather evidence to support your viewpoint.

ASSIGNMENT:Read Trifles by Susan Glaspell. Select a category: Easy, Medium, Hard. Write a thesis statement that answers one of the two questions below:


1. What is the significance of the title of this play?

2. Examine the characterization of the men and the women in the play.


1. How does this play help us think about the differences between the way men and women perceive or understand the world around them?

2. In the play, Trifles, women are pitted against men. How are the men and women portrayed?


1. Read Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers,” a short story version of Trifles written one year after the play. Compare and contrast the story through the different genres.

2. Are the women right to cover up Minnie Foster’s crime?

I found various sources for downloadable versions of the play and the short story on the Internet (doing a basic search). Here’s one: