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What Is a Narrative Thesis?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2014
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A narrative thesis is a thesis statement related to a narrative essay or a narrative component of a larger written work or piece of oration. This can be a clearly stated thesis statement or an unstated or implied thesis statement. In either type, however, it is typically the driving force behind a narrative work and is the ultimate lesson learned or purpose of the narrative. A narrative thesis may be connected to the thesis of a larger work, in which the narrative is merely one element, or may be the thesis statement for the entire essay or speech.

Narrative essays, or narrative sections of other types of essays, typically consist of events that are related in a way that is meaningful and relates an overall dramatic narrative. This is similar to storytelling, but the major difference is that in a narrative essay, there is a narrative thesis that acts as the driving purpose behind this story. For example, someone could simply tell the story of when he or she played baseball one summer and enjoyed the experience. This story, when told as a narrative essay, would have some sort of underlying narrative thesis such as that playing baseball taught the importance of practice and hard work for personal improvement.

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The narrative thesis can be directly stated or it may be implied by the rest of the narrative. Many narrative essays have the latter type of thesis statement, since the elaborate explanation of a thesis may make a narrative seem heavy handed or make the work seem as though it is “talking down” to the audience. A narrative can also be one aspect of a larger work, such as an argumentative essay that includes a brief section consisting of a narrative. In this type of situation, the narrative thesis will typically be the same as the thesis for the argumentative essay and may not need to be stated within the context of the narrative.

For instance, in the previous example, the writer may be arguing that hard work and practice are reliable methods for personal improvement. The writer may then include the personal narrative regarding the summer spent playing baseball and seeing firsthand improvement through practice. In this instance, a narrative thesis would not be absolutely necessary since the narrative section serves to reinforce the thesis of the overall paper. This would be an implied narrative thesis, since it would not need to be stated but could be determined by the reader based on the overall message of the paper and the purpose of the narrative within it.

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