HKamal

Need help with IOP Thesis statement!

Hey all,

I take English A SL and need to do my IOP after Christmas break. 

I have decided to do it on The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.

My Thesis is: "The story creates an atmosphere that conveys a dark theme of insecurity and instability". I was to talk about punctuation, repetition,diction , the narrator , and the vulture eye (symbolism). My teacher says the thesis is too vague, that it needs to be falsifiable. What does this mean? And what can I come up with as an alternative. I want to be done quickly so that I can rehearse and perfect my presentation. All help is appreciated, I haven't had English literature before.

 

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Instead of answering your question, I would say ask your teacher to elaborate. He/she is the one who will be grading this, so that is whose opinion you'll want. Your teacher should be happy to help, and don't be embarrassed to be persistent in asking if you feel that you still don't understand what he/she wants/

My guess about being falsifiable is that he/she wants you to talk about a theme of the poem, but it's only a guess. Better to ask and if you're still struggling tell us what your teacher said, because right now even I don't know what your teacher wants.

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I agree with the above and would also state that it's a vague theme because the theme doesn't mean anything. So, you're saying a theme is insecurity and instability, right? You haven't, however, told us what Poe's stance is on it. What is he actually saying in the story?

E.g. "Through the use of punctuation, repetition, diction, and the choice of narration, Poe develops an atmosphere to express the harmful impacts of insecurity. He suggests that an individual's insecurity may severe relations with others, but also have dramatic effects of the individual's mental health, altering their outlook on life and causing them to lose trust in themselves, not just others. As a consequence, an individual becomes detached from the world and their mentality becomes more unstable as they refuse to communicate with others."

I've never read the story before, but if the story was about that - I don't know, I just BSed with the two words - then you want to expand on what Poe's perspective on the thing is. This will come through the intent you discover as you analyse each individual technique. It's a bit of a long thesis, but our teacher basically got us to make our introduction an extended thesis. The first line was introducing the stuff, the second the plot, and the rest was an elongated thesis (in a way). It was kind of like: This technique does this and this other one does this. Repeat. Shortened version of your thesis and its details.

However, yes, I agree that you should ask your teacher.

Edited by apoello
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Thank you guys for your feedback!

I decided to change the thesis first to:

"Symbolism, style of writing and the narrator's thought and action processes affirm that he suffers from psychological impairment."

My teacher said "psychological impairment" is vague.

So I changed it to :

"Symbolism , writing style and the narrator’s thought process affirm that he suffers from Schizophrenia, Obsessive compulsive personality disorder and Dissociative identity disorder." (intending to argue for all these conditions of course)

She then said that this would point me away from literary analysis and that arguing for specific diseases would be conjecture since it is difficult to ascertain diagnoses regarding fictional characters.

Not really sure where I should go from here. I am thinking on choosing an entirely different story/poem and starting from scratch.

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Your teacher is right and was wise to tell you to not do that.

5 hours ago, HKamal said:

So I changed it to :

"Symbolism , writing style and the narrator’s thought process affirm that he suffers from Schizophrenia, Obsessive compulsive personality disorder and Dissociative identity disorder." (intending to argue for all these conditions of course)

I immediately thought "don't diagnose diseases" when I saw what you wrote. IB's particular brand of literature analysis depends on making claims about the extract's effect. Thus, making claims about characters' personal conditions won't help you. (Also, never try to make a medical diagnoses That's is a huge faux pas and examiners won't be forgiving.)  What you want to do is make claims about the passage and its affect as a whole. If you want to talk about characterization, that's valid, but the characterization in the text should be used as evidence. If I recall correctly, your story is told in first-person (read it in middle-school ;)). Thus, everything that the character narrates could potentially be characterization as evidence. You would want to talk about the what the character says in his narration and what it shows (how is he/she characterized), but then – and this is important – you want to talk about its significance in the passage. You would do this by using this characterization (note that characterization is done by the author, not the narrator regardless of first-person/third-person) to claim that the author uses it to deliver a greater message ("theme" if complete story, "message" if extract) in the passage. This pattern/formula applies not only to characterization, but all literary devices. IB likes students to use literary devices to claim the theme/message/effect of a passage.

Your original thesis is actually pretty close, and initially I was unsure what she wanted but now I'm pretty sure she wants you to talk about an overarching effect of the passage, just like I said in the previous paragraph. It seems like she wants you to make that one last step using what you have with your claims about the atmosphere and talk about how that relates to a theme (You will have to decide what that theme is). Also. I would recommend not using atmosphere and instead use mood or tone, which are two recognized literary devices (Remember, we're making IB happy here. Semantics. :D) Don't confuse them though, because tone is how the narrator feels and mood is how the events in the passage would make an average everyday person feel (Particularly relevant in your story because let's just say the narrator has an unusual attitude towards murder). One possible path could be starting with characterization and then moving to tone and then to mood (going over the juxtaposition in the tone and mood) and finally talking about the effect of all this and allege your thesis. 

Whether you switch or stick with Tell-Tale Heart, I hoped this help. This advice serves for any IB Lit assignment. Talk more with your teacher and finalize things. Keep us updated. Good luck.

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11 hours ago, Nomenclature said:

Your teacher is right and was wise to tell you to not do that.

I immediately thought "don't diagnose diseases" when I saw what you wrote. IB's particular brand of literature analysis depends on making claims about the extract's effect. Thus, making claims about characters' personal conditions won't help you. (Also, never try to make a medical diagnoses That's is a huge faux pas and examiners won't be forgiving.)  What you want to do is make claims about the passage and its affect as a whole. If you want to talk about characterization, that's valid, but the characterization in the text should be used as evidence. If I recall correctly, your story is told in first-person (read it in middle-school ;)). Thus, everything that the character narrates could potentially be characterization as evidence. You would want to talk about the what the character says in his narration and what it shows (how is he/she characterized), but then – and this is important – you want to talk about its significance in the passage. You would do this by using this characterization (note that characterization is done by the author, not the narrator regardless of first-person/third-person) to claim that the author uses it to deliver a greater message ("theme" if complete story, "message" if extract) in the passage. This pattern/formula applies not only to characterization, but all literary devices. IB likes students to use literary devices to claim the theme/message/effect of a passage.

Your original thesis is actually pretty close, and initially I was unsure what she wanted but now I'm pretty sure she wants you to talk about an overarching effect of the passage, just like I said in the previous paragraph. It seems like she wants you to make that one last step using what you have with your claims about the atmosphere and talk about how that relates to a theme (You will have to decide what that theme is). Also. I would recommend not using atmosphere and instead use mood or tone, which are two recognized literary devices (Remember, we're making IB happy here. Semantics. :D) Don't confuse them though, because tone is how the narrator feels and mood is how the events in the passage would make an average everyday person feel (Particularly relevant in your story because let's just say the narrator has an unusual attitude towards murder). One possible path could be starting with characterization and then moving to tone and then to mood (going over the juxtaposition in the tone and mood) and finally talking about the effect of all this and allege your thesis. 

Whether you switch or stick with Tell-Tale Heart, I hoped this help. This advice serves for any IB Lit assignment. Talk more with your teacher and finalize things. Keep us updated. Good luck.

Thank you a lot! This really cleared up things for me!

So the way I understand it:

you have to analyse literary devices , realize their effect on the reader or the passage and use that to prove a thesis. It is not enough to say that x,y,z literary devices exist and show this or that, their significance in the passage must be used to say something greater about the text/prove the thesis.

 

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Posted (edited)

Almost.  :D

You don't actually analyse literary devices, you analyze the passage or poem.  OK, so I'm being a bit pedantic, but it is nevertheless an essential point.

The rest you got right:  In the process of analyzing the passage you will of course need to identify and explain the effects and purposes of the literary devices.  The literary devices are part of what makes the passage/poem work and that is, ultimately, what you are investigating.

The two important questions are:  How is a passage or poem made to mean? And why does it matter?

The *significance* of the passage or of the authorial choices (preferably both) will be implied by your thesis.

And that is about it. Now for the hard part of actually putting all this into practice. :P  Good luck with your IOP!

Edited by Blackcurrant
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4 hours ago, Blackcurrant said:

Almost.  :D

You don't actually analyse literary devices, you analyze the passage or poem.  OK, so I'm being a bit pedantic, but it is nevertheless an essential point.

The rest you got right:  In the process of analyzing the passage you will of course need to identify and explain the effects and purposes of the literary devices.  The literary devices are part of what makes the passage/poem work and that is, ultimately, what you are investigating.

The two important questions are:  How is a passage or poem made to mean? And why does it matter?

The *significance* of the passage or of the authorial choices (preferably both) will be implied by your thesis.

And that is about it. Now for the hard part of actually putting all this into practice. :P  Good luck with your IOP!

Yes, I think I get it:)

What do you think of this thesis:

"Symbolism, style of writing and the narrator’s thought process highlight his devastated psychological state which helps make the readers sympathize with him."

Here the literary devices are used to affirm his poor mental state (insanity) and this makes us feel sorry for him.

Thank you for your input its really helpful!

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9 hours ago, HKamal said:

Yes, I think I get it:)

What do you think of this thesis:

"Symbolism, style of writing and the narrator’s thought process highlight his devastated psychological state which helps make the readers sympathize with him."

Here the literary devices are used to affirm his poor mental state (insanity) and this makes us feel sorry for him.

Thank you for your input its really helpful!

Two things: I would slightly change your qualifiers to "Symbolism, diction, and characterization" to use more precise and common terms. Diction means word choice and characterization is of course the narrator's thought-process

Second and more importantly you want to talk about the passage's message. Blackcurrant was more clear in emphasizing this than I was and it was something that I really had to learn in my first semester in IB because it was different than some of what I had previously done. You can make the claim that the lit. devices help make the reader sympathize with him and that is definitely valuable in your paper. But in your thesis you want to go even further and talk about what this means for the "theme/message" of the passage. For example, you could say that the theme of the passage is that, "society should be sympathetic towards ostensibly evil individuals." A theme doesn't have to be obvious or spelt out in the text. Some texts are more subtle than other. There should be evidence that supports it but it's ultimately up to you to define. Does that make sense?

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7 hours ago, Nomenclature said:

Two things: I would slightly change your qualifiers to "Symbolism, diction, and characterization" to use more precise and common terms. Diction means word choice and characterization is of course the narrator's thought-process

Second and more importantly you want to talk about the passage's message. Blackcurrant was more clear in emphasizing this than I was and it was something that I really had to learn in my first semester in IB because it was different than some of what I had previously done. You can make the claim that the lit. devices help make the reader sympathize with him and that is definitely valuable in your paper. But in your thesis you want to go even further and talk about what this means for the "theme/message" of the passage. For example, you could say that the theme of the passage is that, "society should be sympathetic towards ostensibly evil individuals." A theme doesn't have to be obvious or spelt out in the text. Some texts are more subtle than other. There should be evidence that supports it but it's ultimately up to you to define. Does that make sense?

Ok, so if I was to say:

"Symbolism, diction and characterization in the story highlight the reality of the inevitability of death"

I would have to modify this and relate it to the overall theme/message of the text:

"Symbolism, diction and characterization in the story urges man to remember that death may come in any shape or form but its coming is destined;there is no escape from it."

Something like this?

Thank you for your help!

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In an IOP, no one is likely to notice the faulty attribution in the first part of the sentence (symbolism and diction cannot "urge" readers), so it should be OK; but if you were to write the thing out,  then:

"In this story, Poe urges us to remember that etc.... He underscores this message through his use of symbolism, diction and through characterization."

 

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14 hours ago, HKamal said:

Ok, so if I was to say:

"Symbolism, diction and characterization in the story highlight the reality of the inevitability of death"

I would have to modify this and relate it to the overall theme/message of the text:

"Symbolism, diction and characterization in the story urges man to remember that death may come in any shape or form but its coming is destined;there is no escape from it."

Something like this?

Thank you for your help!

Beautiful. You've got the general idea. Best of luck.

P.s. As a side note today, we read through some comments that examiners had made about previous Lit Paper 1's and lo and behold the examiners frequently mentioned either that students had used proper terminology for lit. devices or that they had not. I know it's kind of stupid but it is what it is. Your teacher should go over these with you or provide you with a sheet as there actually are a lot and it never hurts to use the most precise term.

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