In literature, a theme is a common thread or main idea that is repeated throughout a literary work. The theme of a novel or story is the major message that organizes the entire work. The theme may be expressed overtly, but more often it must be uncovered by reading deeply through the work and analyzing the story's plot, characters and use of literary devices.Continue Reading
The theme of a work is distinct from its subject, which is what the story is ostensibly "about." The theme is an expression of the writer's views on that subject. The subject of a story, for example, might be war, while the theme might be that war occurs in endless cycles that humanity is forced to repeat.
Writers can present a literary theme in many ways. The thoughts and actions of different characters may serve to express the theme, whether explicitly or subtly. The theme might also be expressed through conversations and dialogue between characters. Different characters can often represent different aspects of a theme. In Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov," for example, brothers Ivan and Alyosha represent the positions of skepticism and religious faith, respectively, and together represent the novel's theme of the conflict between the two. In the greatest works of literature, themes are carefully intertwined with all the other elements of the story and are only fully revealed as the text progresses.Learn more about Literary Writing
The difference between a story’s plot and its main idea is that plot organizes time and events while the main idea organizes theme. Both plot and main idea provide structure, and their functions in stories are often intertwined, depending on the genre of the story. Also, while a story generally has only one main idea, a story can contain many different plots.Full Answer >
To write a book chapter summary, consider the settings of the chapter, the characters, the theme and any supporting idea that gives flesh to the theme, such as what the characters do and when, where and why they do it. Take special note of the main idea in the chapter.Full Answer >
The primary theme within "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner is the idea of tradition versus change. Through the course of the main character's death within the story, the power of death is also a dominant theme.Full Answer >
A main idea is the topic of a paragraph or a segment of text; a theme is a topic that is repeated throughout the full body of a work. A main idea is intended to summarize what a section of text is about. A theme is intended to provide a relevant source of reflection in relation to the text.Full Answer >