Universal themes in literature are common ideas that appear in plays, poems and stories – even though they were written decades or even centuries apart. Plays written thousands of years ago by the Greek playwrights Aeschylus and Sophocles have themes that are virtually identical to themes that appear in literature from modern times, and just about every literary work includes some of these timeless ideas.Continue Reading
One of the most common universal themes is the unavoidability of death. The fact that all people are mortal has always been an important idea. It appears in one of the very first works of literature, the epic poem "Gilgamesh," which comes from ancient Mesopotamia, but also in the late 20th century film "Death Becomes Her."
Marriage and love represent another universal theme, and the struggle that each person faces to find a place in society is also a common universal theme. The idea of the hero's quest is just as crucial in Homer's "Odyssey" as it is in the Coen Brothers' film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and the question of morality is important in works spanning from Sophocles' "Antigone" to Donna Tartt's debut novel, "The Secret History." Because all of these ideas are important to humanity, they continue to appear in works of literature.Learn more about Philosophy
According to Professor Paul Brians of Washington State University, realism in literature was a movement that, in reaction to Romanticism, focused on the real world and familiar kinds of characters as opposed to the fantastical or supernatural. Naturalism was a later extension of realism marked by a pessimistic attitude towards humanity and an attempt to apply the scientific method to the writing of fiction.Full Answer >
Aristotle taught Alexander the Great rhetoric, literature and philosophy. Alexander's father King Philip II invited Aristotle to become his 13-year-old son's personal tutor around 338 B.C.Full Answer >
Jean Jacques Rousseau was a writer, composer and philosopher in the 1700s who had many accomplishments, including publishing works that influence literature, society and politics, creating operas and contributing to music theory. Rousseau's political theories served as catalysts behind both the American and French Revolutions. His writing "Julie, ou la nouvelle Heloise" serves as the precursor to Romanticism in literature and fiction.Full Answer >
Greek dramatist Sophocles excelled in the fields of literature and theater; he produced several great works, including the acclaimed drama "Oedipus the King." Historians consider Sophocles a distinguished playwright, and one of the three greatest producers to hail from Greece, along with Euripides and Aeschylus. Sophocles produced more than 120 dramas during his lifetime, and enjoyed a long and distinguished career.Full Answer >