Thematic statement about a poem

Thematic statement about a poem

Thematic statement about a poem

Last updated on September 29th, 2023 at 02:59 pm

For this thematic statement about a poem assignment,  analyze one of the following texts

    1. “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” by Emily Dickinson
    2. “I measure every Grief I meet” by Emily Dickinson
    3. “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes
    4. “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes

Your essay should include the following:


  • Use the first 2-4 sentences to bring the reader in (without using a broad and irrelevant hook). Think about these first few sentences as your chance to “frame” an issue that you are thinking about (and that you’d like the reader to think about) in preparation for introducing your actual argument.
  • Then, at the end of the introductory paragraph, you must include a thematic statement, which should be one or two sentences and should:
  • Identify the title of the text
  • Identify the author’s full name
  • Offer a complex, specific, coherent, and nuanced thematic interpretation of the work.

THREE BODY PARAGRAPHS. Each body paragraph must include:

  • A topic sentence that presents the main claim of that particular paragraph—the specific interpretive insight/angle you’ll be focusing your analysis on. The claim should be nuanced & specific enough that you can develop it in the space of the paragraph. The claim in the body paragraph’s topic sentence should provide logical support to the claim in the thematic statement. The claim in the topic sentence also sets the “agenda” for the body paragraph. It tells your reader what you’ll be attempting to demonstrate and explore in this focused, unified paragraph.
  • Specific, relevant evidence (ideally quotations, but also—to a limited extent—examples, summary and paraphrase) from the text to support your claim. Each paragraph must explicitly analyze at least one Do not just “drop” quotes into the text. Frame the quotes with relevant information like, “When the couple enters the room, already arguing and displaying signs of stress, the husband chides the wife by noting…” or a similar statement to set up the quote.
  • Where possible, identification of relevant literary techniques and devices used by the author in the selected evidence.
    • Many literary techniques and devices are listed on the handout on Léa. There are many that you could consider. Some that we’ve talked about in class include:
      • Looking at how the author uses allusions or analogies to complicate and express the theme.
      • Looking at how the author uses alliteration, rhyme, dissonance, assonance, onomatopoeia, line breaks, enjambment, etc. to complicate and express the theme.
      • Looking at how the author uses specific elements of personification or characterization (for the speaker or for the figure being addressed) to complicate and express theme.
      • Looking at how the author uses specific elements of imagery to convey the theme.
      • Looking at how the author uses irony to convey the theme.
      • Looking at the tone of a given passage.
      • Looking for any figurative language the author employs—such as metaphor or similes.
      • Looking for any repetition, oxymoron, paradox, patterns, contrasts, catalogues, lists, enumerations, or contradictions.
      • Looking for the effect of structure—how different pieces of the poem follow one another, how the poem progresses or shifts from beginning to end, whether the poem is divided into meaningful sections, etc.
    • Interpretation and analysis of the text. Basically, you need to be sure that you actually analyze your quotes in a way that highlights their significance. So you need to use interpretation and analysis in order to reflect on the evidence: you need to show your thinking on the page. Perhaps most importantly, you need to reflect on the importance of specific language choices made by the author. So, explain why the author uses these certain literary techniques, descriptions and details. How do these elements contribute to the development of the theme in the story and how do they support your claims about what the story is trying to say?
    • Concluding sentence that summarizes the main idea/contribution/insight of the body paragraph and explains how it connects to the overall thesis of the essay.


  • You could simply, sum up and repeat all your points, but given the fact that this is a relatively short essay there’s no real purpose to mechanically repeating what you’ve just said. The reader doesn’t need a dull, formulaic recitation of your paper. So, think about how you can instead use this paragraph to consider the implications, significance, or impact of your preceding analysis. For more ideas on what to do in the conclusion, read through this document to the end.
More Notes;
  1. Your essay should be approximately 750 to 1000 words long.
  2. Your essay must include an introduction, three body paragraphs (minimum), and a conclusion. You essay must include a thematic statement, which should appear as the final or the penultimate sentence of your introduction.
  3. You will develop the thematic statement yourself. Remember that a thematic statement must present a complex, nuanced, arguable interpretive claim about the text’s theme(s). It should be insightful and specific enough that you can actually develop and explore and complicate the ideas in the space of this relatively short essay. Avoid vague, general thematic statements.
  4. This essay will be turned in by midnight July 3rd.
  5. You will receive three sub-category grades (for Content, Organization, and Expression) and a cumulative total grade.
  6. You may not refer to outside resources. If your paper contains any plagiarized ideas or phrases, you will fail the paper (receive a zero).
  7. NB: We will cover these texts together in class. You are allowed to use any ideas we discuss together in class. You are not allowed to get ideas or phrases from outside sources (the internet, friends, paper mills, family, etc.).
  8. If you want feedback, please do not ask me to look at your writing and tell you if “it’s good.” That question is too vague. Instead, try to focus your questions on specific aspects of your drafts.
  9. I cannot evaluate ideas/writing by MIO. I’m happy to discuss your ideas during Thursday’s writing workshop or in one-on-one conferences on Zoom.
  10. You may use your class notes, readings, dictionaries, and anything that we’ve discussed together as a class.
  11. There is no need to use the internet for supplementary research. I want to see your ideas, and your ideas only. If the phrasing or ideas of your essay bear a marked similarity to an online source (or to another student paper), you will receive a zero for plagiarism. The best way to avoid this is to avoid online sources.


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