It occurs to me that it might not be necessary to start with a thesis for or against the death penalty after all. Judgiing from my own thoughts and feelings, it would be hard for me to come out with a thesis statement that the death penalty should be abolished or that it should be retained. I simply don't know. It would be easy to say that the death penalty should be abolished because it is cruel and unusual punishment, because it is unfair to minorities, and because it doesn't deter capital offenses. It would also be easy to say that cold-blooded murderers don't deserve any consideration and that they ought to be eliminated--especially for such atrocities as torture-murders of women and children.
Another approach to a thesis statement therefore might be to state that the death penalty poses a moot question which has yet to be satisfactorily answered. Then the follow-up would be to present the arguments against the death penalty and the arguments in favor. (And there are plenty of people who favor retaining the death penalty and even using it more often.)
This would be a more difficult essay to write, and the conclusion would also be difficult to formulate, but many studies end with the time-honored, all-purpose conclusion that the problem needs further study. After all, your opinion is only one of millions, and your essay is not going to affect the death penalty one way or the other. The same would be true for me if I were to write an essay on the subject. I really don't know. I'm not crazy about the death penalty, but there are many cases I read about in which, to be honest, I certainly can't feel sorry for the person getting the lethal injection.
Below you will find three outstanding thesis statements / paper topics on Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in the text and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1 Alienation and Separation from Society in Crime and Punishment
The world presented in Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky is quite harsh and there are few examples of people who are either comfortable or provided for. Certainly this is the case with Raskolnikov (also called Rodya or Rodion) and his family. This desolate landscape and setting further emphasizes the theme of desolation, isolation, and alienation. For this essay you could take two directions. First, you could examine the setting itself and describes ways in which it is in itself alienating. For a longer essay, could incorporate ideas about the setting with the ways in which characters as alienated from society. Raskolnikov would be the best example and you could discuss how he is alienated because of his worldview and finds, in his own personal philosophy, that he is superior and others only exist to serve him in some way. There are other directions you could take the theme of alienation and these are but two examples.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2 The Role of God and Religion in Crime and Punishment
The function of religion and individual understandings of God is an important theme in the novel, particularly toward the end. Although Raskolnikov is far too arrogant throughout the majority of the novel to come to terms with religion or his conception of God, all around him there are a number of religious messages come at him from Sonia and others. The presence of religion offers readers a unique paradox because on the one hand, this novel is about an essentially godless person who commits an awful and grave sin. For this essay, examine the ways in which this might be a religious parable. Make connections between biblical characters (Cain and Abel, Mary Magdalene, etc) and if you want to be more complex, consider these issues in light of the context of Dostoevsky’s life and religious conversion.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Rationalization of Crime / Character Analysis of Raskolnikov
Part of what makes Raskonikov such an enduring, compelling, and frightening character is the way he is able to coldly rationalize murder and evil. In his mind, when how the woman is “useful to anyone at all” he is suggesting that there are people who do not deserve to live and since his purposes are noble (he is not, after all, murdering her for the sheer joy of crime but in order to help his family and secure a good life for himself late) then his crime is justified. Although the guilt tears him apart, at no point does he ever seem to wonder about if what he did was right or wrong necessarily, but his guilt stems from a more complex set of reasons—not the least of which is the involvement of Sonia. For this essay, examine the many ways in which Raskolnikov is able to rationalize sin and close the essay with your insights on what this means. Code corrupted. Insert fresh copy.