What Are Some of the Universal Themes in Literature?

Literary universal themes include an individual’s struggle with his humanity, a personal struggle to reach a goal, falling in love, dealing with tragedy, and karma, according to Study.com. A universal theme is relatable to a wide audience because readers can easily apply the central ideas to their own lives and emotionally connect with the story.

Universal themes exist in all forms of literature such as novels, short stories, poems and plays, and incorporate simple concepts of the human condition, allowing them to be universally accepted and understood. People feel and experience the most basic elements of life in ways similar to one another, making some universal themes such as coming of age understandable to readers of different nationalities and backgrounds.

While readers may interpret the theme of a particular literary work in a number of alternative ways, universal themes tend to be identifiable across cultural and geographic boundaries. Additional universal themes include the struggle to understand spirituality, the discovery that friendship is dependent on sacrifice, the rewards brought by sacrifice, and the importance of family, notes Scholastic. Universal themes play off the idea that human beings all have the same basic needs regardless of whether they are rich, poor, good or bad.