Tutor profile: Michael R.
In literary analysis, what is the main function of a thesis statement? How should the thesis relate to each part of the essay?
A thesis statement contains the central point of focus for the entire paper, and functions as a guide for the reader throughout the paper. Although part of the paper may bring the thesis into question, ultimately the thesis should be reinforced by the end of the paper. At the start of each paragraph, the writer should outline what will be discussed in the course of the paragraph, and this lead sentence should relate directly back to the thesis. The conclusion should in a sense restate the thesis, taking into consideration the positions and evidence given throughout the course of the essay.
At the beginning of Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, how are we to understand the phrase that, "God is dead?"
I believe when Nietzsche says that, "God is dead, and we killed him," we as reader are to understand that the old religious dogmas of mystery and faith have been replaced by a mechanical understanding uncovered by the powers of science. However, far from being a call towards nihilism, in that the world and human experience has no meaning, Nietzsche is calling upon his audience to summon their own latent creative powers, and to create for themselves a new metaphysics, a new aesthetics, and a will towards life that we ourselves create. Although Nietzsche is sometimes described as a nihilist, this is a great misunderstanding of his text. He in fact sees nihilism as the great evil which modern human beings must confront through what he called the "noble" aspect of self-creation and self-determination.
At the end of Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver rejects human society and seeks to live his life as a completely rational being, following the example of the horse-like Houyhnhnms. What are we to make of Gulliver's newfound misanthropy? Does Swift as author intend for the reader to see Gulliver as a hero, and to emulate his struggle against the irrational? Or are we to see Gulliver as a source of ridicule, and accept irrationality as a part of human nature?
As in Jonathan Swift's satire A Modest Proposal, I believe Swift as author is trying to persuade his reading audience to his point of view by taking a certain concept or plan of action (total rationality, eliminating poverty in Ireland, respectively) to its logical conclusion. At the end of Gulliver's travels, the obvious incongruity between a human attempting to live his life as a horse is a metaphor for the equally-obvious incongruity between human experience as it is actually lived, and the ideal of total rationality. Gulliver's only solution to become like the Houyhnhnms is to eat straw, make animal noises, and to become a total recluse. In this way, Swift is ridiculing the idea of total rationality by Gulliver's actions, while his satirical style means that Swift as author never directly puts his own opinions in the text.
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