Theme

“When you are describing

A shape, or sound, or tint,

Don’t state the matter plainly

But put it in a hint

And learn to look at all things

With a sort of mental squint”

~ Lewis Carroll

Definition

The theme of a story is the main message or life lesson that the author is trying to teach about life, society, or human nature. It should have universal appeal, regardless of age, race, or gender.

Examples

Pride comes before a fall.

(From the story of David and Goliath in the Bible)

Strength of character knows no gender.

(From Mulan)

Slow and steady wins the race.

Persistent effort pays off.

(From the “Tortoise and the Hare”)

Believe in yourself.

Accept others’ differences.

Honesty is the best policy.

Notes

  • Theme is the cornerstone of any written work. Theme should be hinted at or implied throughout the whole story. You can have more than one theme, as well as major and minor themes.
  • Theme in story is related to thesis in essay writing.
  • Theme is the “answer,” even when the answer may not be very clear; the question motivates the unfolding of your plot.
    Why do bad things happen to good people?
    God is in control.
  • Conflict and theme are directly related. Whatever the main character is struggling with and needs to learn is generally the theme of the story. Conflict is easier to determine than theme. Once you’ve identified the conflict, you should be      able to easily identify the main theme.
  • For good ideas to write about, consider the fruit of the spirit or the seven deadly sins.
  • Often themes are highlighted best by coupling them with their antitheses:
    Pride/Humility                                   Good/Evil
    Love/Hate                                           Innocence/Experience
    Life/Death                                           Liberalism/Legalism
    Joy/Sorrow                                          Aging/Youth
    War/Peace                                           Wrath/Mercy
  • The most effective way to use theme is to highlight a current hot topic or controversy:
    Why do we have war?
    Sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in (insert belief).
    Fighting is never the answer.

http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/patten/theme.html

http://www.suite101.com/lesson.cfm/16712/259/3

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