Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “My Name is Red” by Orhan Pamuk that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “My Name is Red” 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 short 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 “My Name is Red” by Orhan Pamuk at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: No Experience Necessary?
My Name is Red is a novel about a highly specific topic: the art of miniaturist Islamic painting. In some ways, the reader’s level of familiarity with this subject will affect his or her comfort with and understanding of the novel. Consider whether pre-existing knowledge of the subject would facilitate or hinder the reading of My Name is Red. You may wish to elaborate by focusing on what it means for an author to choose to write on a subject that, for a large audience, will be relatively obscure. Include a consideration of “My Name is Red” and the genre of historical fiction (analysis of this issue here) and how it assumes or suggests that a certain degree of knowledge or experience is necessary to approach the text.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Embodiment of Objects
In My Name is Red, a number of objects become embodied with human qualities—namely, speech—and non-human beings, such as dogs, can talk. Analyze one or more of these objects or beings and explain how the embodiment of this figure enhances either the narration or the plot, or both. Identify whether the speech of these embodied objects deepens the reader’s understanding of the narratives provided by the human characters. If this is your stance, explain why. If you possess a particular understanding of Islamic art, you may wish to tie in observations about the symbolic significance of such embodied objects.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Importance of Color in “My Name is Red”
The title of this book clearly suggests that color is an important motif in the novel. Subsequent chapters and character names reinforce this idea. Beyond some of the obvious meanings of color (for example, color is an important element of visual art), identify and discuss the symbolic functions of color in the novel. in which you explain how colors reflect or contradict certain characters’ beliefs about themselves, one another, and the artistic process. You may wish to make an argument about which of the colors is most important and why.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Illuminating the Text
One of the important debates in My Name is Red is whether an image can survive independent of the text it is intended to illuminate. In Chapter 10, “I Am a Tree," the embodied tree explains this debate movingly based on its own experiences. Take a side in this debate. Write an essay in which you identify your position and defend it. Draw from textual evidence to support your argument.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: Narrative Structure
The narrative structure of My Name is Red is organized around the use of multiple narrators. In effect, each character is given the space to articulate his own position and philosophy. Considering this cast of narrator/characters, identify which one appeals to you most or least. Write an essay in which you explain why this narrator does or does not appeal to you. Identify the specific techniques that the narrator uses to either engage or distance the reader, and explain the effect that these techniques have on the overall text.
•For a more detailed view on some of these topics, check out this analysis of “My Name is Red” by Orhan Pamuk•
This list of important quotations from “My Name is Red” by Orhan Pamuk will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “My Name is Red” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements for “My Name is Red” above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text by Orhan Pamuk they are referring to.
“My death conceals an appalling conspiracy against our religion, our traditions, and the way we see the world. Open your eyes, discover why the enemies of the life in which you believe, of the life you’re living, and of Islam, have destroyed me." (5)
“Let me say also that if the situation into which we’ve fallen were described in a book, even the most expert of miniaturists could never hope to illustrate it." (5-6)
“I’m a dog, and because you humans are less rational beasts than I, you’re telling yourselves, ‘Dogs don’t talk.’ Nevertheless, you seem to believe a story in which corpses speak and characters use words they couldn’t possible know. Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen." (11)
“I couldn’t let the false accusations of one foolhardy man endanger the entire society of miniaturists." (15)
“It’s hard to believe that most men are more moral or better than me simply on account of some minor twist of fate." (15)
“Over time, jealousy becomes an element as indispensable as paint in the life of the master artist." (17)
“Try to discover who I am from my choice of words and colors, as attentive people like yourselves might examine footprints to catch a thief. This…brings us to the issue of ‘style,’ which is now of widespread interest. Does a miniaturist, ought a miniaturist, have his own personal style? A use of color, a voice all his own?" (17)
“Where there is true art and genuine virtuosity the artist can paint an incomparable masterpiece without leaving even a trace of his identity." (18)
“What was the narrative that this representation was meant to embellish and complete? As I regarded the work, I slowly sensed that the underlying tale was the picture itself. The painting wasn’t the extension of the story at all, it was something in its own right." (26)
“Yet does illustrating in a new way signify a new way of seeing?" (28)
Reference: Pahmuk, Orhan. My Name is Red. New York: Vintage, 2001.