how to write an interpretive analysis paper
FCWR 151_161 Prof. Bethany generated Spring 2012
WRITING AN INTERPRETIVE ANALYSIS PAPER
To the FCWR 161-W01 class: what we did today (Wednesday, 2/15/2012), was part of the
writing process. It was one part of drafting the paper. I like to call this part brainstorming:
making lists of the ideas in the readings that have been assigned, and then relating these ideas
The most important component of drafting is creating a THESIS. The thesis is the central idea of
the paper. The rest of the paper supports the thesis. We can also say that the paper’s purpose is
to prove the thesis.
When you think about the assigned readings, ideas will arise in your mind. List these ideas.
Next, find ways in which those ideas relate. Eventually you will discover a way to relate
important ideas from two or more of the selections. This relationship is stated in your thesis.
Creating (synonym: deriving) a workable thesis does not usually happen immediately. Usually
you have to try out different thesis ideas. Let’s say you are working with two of the readings. If
both support your thesis idea, then you can use that thesis to write a paper.
YOU WILL PROBABLY CREATE THREE OR MORE UNWORKABLE THESIS IDEAS BEFORE YOU FIND
ONE THAT WILL WORK. Trying out different thesis ideas is part of the writing process.
Never write a paper until you are sure you have a workable thesis!
Possible combination of readings for an Interpretive Analysis paper:
“Stubborn Husband, Stubborn Wife” and “The Happy Man’s Shirt”
a. Husband’s attitude was a problem: he was lazy and so his wife quarreled with him; she had to do
all the work. She was unhappy because she had an unfair burden; he was unhappy because she
kept nagging him to do more work and she kept insulting him. At the end, they realized they
couldn’t live without each other. The husband changed: he started to do the man’s work and
also swept the floor and made breakfast. The wife changed: she was ready to let him keep
being lazy because she loved him.
b. The happy man did not depend on materialistic things to be happy; he made the best of what he
c. Ideas: At the end of both stories all the characters are happy with their lives. The husband and
wife had no wealth, but they realized they loved each other and so they started treating each
other differently: the husband started to help out with chores, and the wife accepted that even
if she had to do everything, she still loved him. POSSIBLE THESIS: “We have to learn to be happy
with what we have.” Unfortunately, the two stories, when examined together, do NOT prove
this thesis because the husband and wife in “Stubborn” had to change before they found
happiness. This thesis is NOT usable.
d. POSSIBLE THESIS: “ Everyone has the right to choose their own lifestyle; even the significant
others, like a wife or a king, should not impact your thinking.” Unfortunately, the two stories
together do NOT prove this thesis, because the husband and wife in “Stubborn” did need to
consider each other’s feelings in order to be happy. This thesis is NOT usable.
e. POSSIBLE THESIS: “Our happiness depends on
being grateful for the things that are truly
important.” This thesis could almost work. The
happy man did not have material wealth, but he
did not complain; instead, he made his life
pleasurable by using his voice to sing and give
himself pleasure. The wife in “Stubborn” thought
only about her husband’s laziness, and so she
was unhappy; when she thought about why she
loved him, she was ready to accept him even
though he was lazy. Then she felt happy.
PROBLEM: We know that if the husband kept on
being lazy, eventually the wife would become
unhappy again, because justice is part of a good
relationship. Also, a man who is lazy can never
truly be happy because he will feel guilty. This
thesis does NOT QUITE work.
f. POSSIBLE THESIS: “Our happiness depends on
being grateful for the things that are truly
important, and on treating those things well.”
The happy man was grateful for his life; he
treated his time well by singing while he rested.
The husband and wife in “Stubborn” were not
grateful for each other at first. The husband
made the wife do all the chores, and the wife
insulted the husband. They were happy at the
end of the story because they both changed: the
wife was grateful to have her husband even if he
was very imperfect, and the husband was so
grateful to have his wife that he was willing to do
both his work and hers. This thesis DOES work.
Now that I have a workable thesis, it is possible
to write my interpretive analysis paper. Here is a
possible introductory paragraph with the thesis
placed in its final sentence:
All of us want to be happy. To be happy means
to feel good. However, because we are humans,
achieving happiness is not simple. Our lives
have many components, such as physical
health, relationships with other people, daily
work, material possessions, our feelings about
ourselves, our desire to have others think highly
of us, a desire for justice, and so forth. Which
components are important to our happiness?
Which components do not matter so much?
These issues are explored in two folk tales: “The
Happy Man’s Shirt” and “Stubborn Husband,
Stubborn Wife.” In these two tales we can see
that our happiness depends on being grateful
for the things that are truly important, and on
treating those things well.
The next steps after creating the thesis and writing the introductory paragraph are: (1) to choose
supporting points from the stories, (2) to explain the supporting points using examples from the
stories, and (3) to create a concluding paragraph. The concluding paragraph should remind the
reader of the thesis and major supporting points, plus add a final thought.
United Nations. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” UN.org. 10 December 1948. Web. 17
May 2016. http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html
Universal Declaration of
On October 24, 1945, in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations came into being as
an intergovernmental organization, with the purpose of saving future generations from the
devastation of international conflict.
United Nations representatives from all regions of the world formally adopted the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948.
The Charter of the United Nations established six principal bodies, including the General
Assembly, the Security Council, the International Court of Justice, and in relation to human
rights, an Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The UN Charter empowered ECOSOC to establish “commissions in economic and social fields
and for the promotion of human rights….” One of these was the United Nations Human Rights
Commission, which, under the chairmanship of Eleanor Roosevelt, saw to the creation of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Declaration was drafted by representatives of all regions of the world and encompassed all
legal traditions. Formally adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, it is the most
universal human rights document in existence, delineating the thirty fundamental rights that form
the basis for a democratic society.
Following this historic act, the Assembly called upon all Member Countries to publicize the text
of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally
in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of
countries or territories.”
Today, the Declaration is a living document that has been accepted as a contract between a
government and its people throughout the world. According to the Guinness Book of World
Records, it is the most translated document in the world.
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all
members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have
outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall
enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the
highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to
rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in
fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights
of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life
in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United
Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for
the full realization of this pledge,
The General Assembly,
Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for
all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping
this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for
these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their
universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States
themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason
and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without
distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion,
national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or
international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be
independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the
law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this
Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts
violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial
tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against
1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved
guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his
2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not
constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was
committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time
the penal offence was committed.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or
correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the
protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from nonpolitical
crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his
1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the
right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during
marriage and at its dissolution.
2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by
society and the State.
1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes
freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others
and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold
opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any
media and regardless of frontiers.
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely
2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.
3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be
expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and
shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization,
through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization
and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his
dignity and the free development of his personality.
1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions
of work and to protection against unemployment.
2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and
his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other
means of social protection.
4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and
periodic holidays with pay.
1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself
and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social
services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability,
widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether
born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and
fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional
education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to
all on the basis of merit.
2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the
strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote
understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall
further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the
arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any
scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth
in this Declaration can be fully realized.
1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his
personality is possible.
2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as
are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the
rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order
and the general welfare in a democratic society.
3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles
of the United Nations.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any
right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights
and freedoms set forth herein.
By 1948, the United Nations’ new Human Rights Commission had captured the attention of the
world. Under the dynamic chairmanship of Eleanor Roosevelt—President Franklin Roosevelt’s
widow, a human rights champion in her own right and the United States delegate to the UN—the
Commission set out to draft the document that became the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. Roosevelt, credited with its inspiration, referred to the Declaration as the “international
Magna Carta for all mankind.” It was adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948.
In its preamble and in Article 1, the Declaration unequivocally proclaims the inherent rights of
all human beings: “Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts
which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human
beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been
proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people....All human beings are born free and
equal in dignity and rights.”
The Member States of the United Nations pledged to work together to promote the thirty Articles
of human rights that, for the first time in history, had been ass ...
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