Developing a thesis or point of view about a text is the key step in planning a good essay. This is because in English there are often no single, factual answers to questions about texts; instead, answers are usually based upon a reader's (i.e. your!) subjective interpretation of a text - and, of course, different people can easily arrive at rather different interpretations of the same text.

This is a double-edged sword because although it means there's much more chance of you not being wrong, it also means that you will gain no marks for your interpretation or viewpoint unless you do three things:

1) explain clearly what your view is - this is often called your thesis statement.

2) provide support for this by showing which parts of the text led you to think that way.

3) explain which aspects of the language, style or structure of text did this.

Imagine this typical scene:

You read a text in class (e.g. a story, poem or play) and your teacher asks your opinion of some aspect of it. You answer. In doing so, you give your point of view. This is, in fact, your thesis. But that's never quite enough - English teachers are never easily satisfied!

Your teacher then asks you to explain how you arrived at such a viewpoint: 'Can you point to a quotation that led you to think that way?' You answer by reading out a suitable short quotation and you add an explanation of how this worked in your mind (if it was a play you had read, you might also mention how the stage action helped lead you to your viewpoint).

'Good!' replies your teacher; 'Now, can you explain how the writer's choices of language led you to this interpretation?' You do... and you add how this quotation helped the writer achieve an immediate purpose at this point in the text as well as how this helped build towards the writer's overall message.

An English essay uses precisely this same process, except it is written and more extended.

In an essay you argue for your point of view - your interpretation - of a text by writing a series of points, each one developed in a paragraph of its own; you then, for each point, refer to the text to support it (usually by using a brief and relevant quotation or by describing the action on the stage, or an effect created by this); finally, you go on to explain the methods the writer has used and the probable purpose intended at this point in the text and as a step on the way towards the overall purpose of the text - that is, its theme(s).

Done and dusted. Grade A* (well - anything is possible!!).