What Is a Theme?

The theme in a literary book or piece of writing is often the moral of the story or the overall message. Theme is not always directly stated and may appear more as a lesson that readers must think critically about when reading.

Some works may possess several themes. For example, a fairy tale may portray a theme about the rewards of sharing and putting others' needs in front of one's own needs. However, another reader might interpret the theme as a lesson on confidence and self-esteem. Yet another reader may see the theme as a warning of the consequences of bullying.