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Just as you want to avoid hubristic claims of "proof" in your thesis, you should also avoid shy qualifications.
In poorly written essays, such "lab talk" shows up in a sentence like this: "In this paper I will prove that Gulliver maintains his ironic role through the end of the fourth book of Swift's Gulliver's Travels" You may, indeed, follow a scientific route in crafting an inductive argument, one that gathers examples and draws conclusions by examining them together.
But inductive arguments, as any scientist will tell you, are never exhaustive.
An essay's topic is the narrowed down idea you have decided to discuss as it relates to the text you are considering.
E.g., you might choose to write about scatological references in Gulliver's Travels.
When you are required to incorporate secondary sources into your essay, you must make sure that you are not simply writing a report. ALL information that you derive from a secondary source must be noted.
Please use the parenthetical documentation style that appears below. Here is an oxymoron on the use of quotations: sparse bounty.
Claims of proof about an object of interpretation will not lend your paper any authority.
You gain authority through the originality, thoroughness, and intelligence of your analysis. Most people have had the experience of being personally moved by a literary work.
The essay's body is composed of a series of close, interpretive readings of passages from the Humanities text that support the assertion of your thesis. Frightened at the blank five or ten pages they have yet to fill, some students rely on a warm-up sentence that goes something like this: "The great Renaissance poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, masterfully wrote his famous play, Hamlet, just as the sixteenth century drew to a close." Rarely do opening lines like this have anything to do with the thesis of the paper, and they should be edited out in the final draft.
The essay's conclusion thoughtfully reflects on what you have presented in the paper. Your professor and your fellow students are doubtless aware of Shakespeare's (or Locke's or Woolf's) well-received reputation and have no need for information extraneous to your topic.