The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Theme (literary)

In literature (as well as many works of nonfiction), a theme is the main idea of the story, or the message the author is conveying. This message is usually about life, society or human nature. Not all stories have explicit themes (they are optional in escape fiction ). However, some readers would say that, because all stories choose certain areas of life to focus on and deal with, all stories inherently project some kind of outlook on life that can be taken as a theme, regardless of whether or not this is the intent of the author. Analysis of changes in dynamic characters can provide insight into a particular theme.

The term theme may be used in the same way to refer to works of theatre and film.

General rules for stating a theme are:

  1. Use complete sentences.
  2. Make a point about a specific topic. For example, a statement that the theme is "love" is incorrect — what about love?
  3. Do not use names. Instead use one, a person, people, etc.
  4. Do not use absolutes such as: always, never, everyone, must, everybody, etc.
  5. Do not use cliches, e.g. Crime doesn't pay.
  6. Do not give lessons or morals.
  7. A theme must be based on and supported by the entire story.

Theme: like filling in an oreo

(and just as sweet)

The theme of a piece of writing, any writing, is the running content of a piece. Most literature does not have one clear-cut theme, for there are many aspects of a story that can be seen with theme.

Theme can be seen as one of many conflicts:

  1. Man vs. Man
  2. Man vs. Nature
  3. Manís Inhumanity to Man
  4. Man vs. Himself

These are only a few aspects of an endless list of other possible themes, but these are used very often.

For further reading, see literature.

Last updated: 05-07-2005 14:07:41
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04