Your micro-thesis is just a simple paper where you
provide an introductory paragraph, a body and a conclusion. Because you have been given a list of themes,
I would like for you to provide at least one detailed instance of how that
theme is presented in the novel.
Once you have developed your thesis statement, using
the theme, then you will use one direct quotation from the paper, and an
outside source to support your theme.
Make sure you document correctly, i.e. using the correct
MLA form of documentation or APA form of documentation that can be accessed by
going to the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University.
You should follow the correct procedures for the Intext
or parenthetical citations and the Works Cited page. Pagination should be in the correct format as
in your syllabus.
Your outside source should be from a refereed journal
or book. You can access the online
journals from school at home by going to the library home page and clicking on
the research port’s tab. Some examples are articles found on JSTOR, Ebsco host,
MLA Bibliography, etc.
Your thesis statement should include the theme you are
using. For example: Achebe uses memory/documentation to paint a
poignant and vivid portrait of Igbo life by highlighting the Uri as a cultural
Prophecy establishes destiny in Sundiata’s life by
opening up a new world of possibilities that for him are unforeseen.
*** The Themes
lesson to Candide is that "there cannot possibly be an effect without a
cause" and that "everything is made to serve an end." This
encapsulates the doctrine of optimistic determinism. If an omniscient,
omnipotent God made the world according to his design, then the presence of
evil would imply a malice toward his own creatures. Believers in the Christian
faith responded to this theological problem by applying a rational
understanding to the phenomenon of evil, using an analysis of cause and effect
to justify every particular instance of evil in terms of the eventual, broader
good to emerge from it. "Private misfortunes make for public
welfare," Pangloss concludes.
Martin cites free
will as the key distinction between men and animals. The concept and
possibility of social progress depend on the freedom of men to determine their
own fate, both individual and collective. If men are to move beyond the
barbarism to which so many of the characters bear witness, they must utilize
their power of free will to "cultivate our garden," as Voltaire
famously declares in the ultimate chapter. In other words, people must band
together, contribute to the larger social good, and shape the future contours
of civilization in a positive manner.
Is evil an
intrinsic part of creation or a simple matter of perspective, an arbitrary and
random quirk of fate? This ongoing philosophical debate between Candide the
optimist and Martin the Manichaean is in fact never resolved in either
character's favor. On the one hand, Pangloss's contention that the phenomenon
of evil can be rationalized through an intricate web of cause and effect is
thoroughly satirized and discredited by Voltaire; on the other, the evidence of
man's unrelenting capacity for "lies, fraud, treachery, ingratitude,
inconstancy, envy, ambition, and cruelty" proves incontrovertible and
points to a sense of pervasive malice in the world. Evil is not exactly
necessary but nor is it eliminable.
sustained by each of the main characters could logically lead to an attitude of
self-pity and resignation to the inevitability of misfortune. But the Old
Woman, despite her own hardships, is the one character to renounce this
attitude, instead challenging Miss Cunégonde and Candide to find someone who
does not consider himself "the most wretched of mortals." Candide is
in some respects a cautionary tale against the excesses of pity and the moral
paralysis that it engenders, as many of its characters appear to languish in a
world where adversity is an intractable rather than mutable condition.
Pleasure vs. Criticism
The enjoyment of
music, painting and literature comes under attack first by the theater critic
at Miss Clairon's performance and later by Senator Pococurante. Dismissed as
sentimental or frivolous, art is a pleasure reserved only to those still naïve
or earnest enough to appreciate it and take it at face value, such as Candide.
The overarching implication is an opposition between pleasure and criticism.
Voltaire seems to suggest that the faculty of judgment and discrimination has
become so overly rigorous that it has destroyed the possibility of any
intuitive emotional or purely aesthetic response to art. As a result, the only
pleasure to be had derives paradoxically from trashing (in a critical sense)
precisely that which is intended to bring the spectator pleasure.
Narrative of the
Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself
Narrative of the Life of
Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself: Themes
An Argument Against Slavery
One of the most explicit themes of the Narrative is the oppressive
effect of institutionalized racism in the form of slavery in the southern
United States. Throughout the narrative, Douglass provides striking examples of
how slaves are brutalized, mentally and physically, by the slaveholding system.
His narrative provides numerous examples that add up to a powerful indictment
of the dehumanizing effects of slavery. These include the physical abuse of
women, as in the treatment of Douglass' Aunt Hester, and the separation of
families. Douglass points out that slavery is not only harmful to slaves but
affects slaveholders too. His greatest example of the damaging effects of
slavery on slaveholders is that of Sophia Auld. Auld had never been a
slaveholder and is at first kind to Douglass. By owning him, she retracts her
generosity of spirit. As Douglass notes, ''The fatal poison of irresponsible
power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work.’’
False versus True Christianity
Another theme that runs throughout the Narrative is what it means to be
a Christian in the South when slavery is at its core immoral. Douglass
ingeniously sets up a dichotomy between two kinds of Christianity, as noted by
scholars Keith Miller and Ruth Ellen Kocher in ‘‘Shattering Kidnapper's
Heavenly Union: Interargumentation in Douglass's Oratory'': ‘‘He constantly
pits True Christianity, which he explicitly embraces, against the False
Christianity of racism and slavery.’’ This theme is found in the depictions of
cruel masters. These masters beat their slaves to near death but appear pious
by attending church regularly, giving to charities, and becoming ministers. The
appendix reveals how Christianity, as practiced in the South, has slavery as
its ugly accomplice. By juxtaposing images of slavery with religious piety,
Douglass reveals how the two cannot be separated. ''The slave auctioneer' s
bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries
of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious
Importance of Literacy to the
Concept of Freedom
As a young boy, Douglass is taught the alphabet by his mistress, Sophia Auld.
After she is prohibited to continue by her husband, Douglass finds ways to
continue his education by interacting with Anglos. Literacy leads Douglass to
see freedom as a goal that can be attained. For example, his purchase of The
Columbian Orator, a book of political speeches written by ancient orators
and Enlightenment thinkers, introduces him to the art of oration. He uses this
skill later in life as an abolitionist activist. Reading such books makes him
wonder why he was excluded from those rights granted to his white master. ''The
reading of these documents enabled me to utter my thoughts, and to meet the
arguments brought forward to sustain slavery....’’ Douglass' education
contributes to his understanding of the injustices done to him and all slaves.
It fosters a desire in him for freedom. His education leads to a restlessness
that will not be quieted by physical beatings or hard labor. Eventually, his
education leads him to escape slavery.
In many ways, the Narrative is a coming-of-age story that depicts
Douglass achieving his freedom and acquiring a sense of self. One of the most
powerful lines in the Narrative comes in chapter ten before the showdown
between Douglass and Mr. Covey. Douglass directly addresses the relationship
between slavery and the denial of manhood when he says, ''You have seen how a
man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.’’ Because
slavery was bound up in denying full selfhood to both men and women, many
slaves were denied the ability to perceive themselves as full human beings.
Douglass' narrative shows how attaining control of one's life through freedom
is necessary to achieving selfhood, or, in Douglass' case, manhood.
Source: Nonfiction Classics for Students,
©2012 Gale Cengage. All Rights Reserved.Full