Sample Thesis Statement and Outline for Essay #1

Rough thesis statement:  

While most people may be inclined to believe that one’s political views are the result of deep personal introspection and critical thought, more often than not, one’s personal circumstances play the single biggest role in shaping one’s political ideology.

Rough Body outline:

  • Time and place
    • Time in human history
      • Machiavelli
      • Jefferson
    • Cultural influences and norms
      • Jefferson
      • Machiavelli
      • Lao-tzu
  • Social status
    • Socioeconomic status
    • Racial/cultural/ethnic status in multiracial societies stratified by race, culture, or ethnicity 
  • Family upbringing

Essay #1: Government

In a well-developed, thesis-driven essay of no fewer than 750 words (the rough equivalent of 3, typed, double-spaced pages), respond to the following prompt:

The prompt:

Consider our readings and discussions thus far on the texts in our “Government” module (Jefferson, Lao-tzu, Yoo, and Machiavelli). Using at least two of these readings as evidence, discuss and analyze how one’s political ideology is a product of the historical/cultural environment in which one lives (personal circumstances, religious views, family climate, national identity, gender/sexual identity, etc. can all apply here as well). In other words, how do our culture, our national identity, and current events influence our opinions on government, its role in the lives of the governed, etc; conversely, another way to think about this assignment is to ask and answer the following question: How can we analyze a system of government to infer its architects’ cultural, social, and/or historical circumstances? Be sure to use concrete examples from your cited sources and analyze those examples to show how they support/prove your thesis.


  • MLA style throughout (do your best if you are not yet familiar with MLA style)
  • 750 words minimum (roughly, don’t bother counting)
  • Paragraphs focused on your own ideas
  • Textual evidence used to support your own claims
  • Close analysis of textual evidence
  • Sophisticated inter paragraph transitions (transitions that express the relationship between paragraphs, as discussed in class) chapters XV, XVI AND XVII

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