The Meaning of Literary Themes

Topics: Fiction, Literature, Novel Pages: 5 (1898 words) Published: May 15, 2012
The Meaning of Literary Themes

The Meaning of Literary Themes

There are different types and forms of literature. They are novel, drama, poetry, biography, non-fictional prose, essay, epic and short story. All these types of literature have some elements. To complete a piece of literature, a writer, dramatist or a novelist must use certain elements like plot, character, theme, etc. to capture the interest of their readers. When reading literature, there are themes which are interpreted within the literary piece. Themes reflect innocence, experience, life, death, reality, fate, madness, sanity, love, society, individual, etc.  Such themes present a point of a lesson learned or the particular meaning the piece was intended to communicate. The theme is usually the intended understanding of the literary piece. The theme is different from the subject or stated topic. The theme within a literary can be stated or implied as a reference to the topic or subject written about within the work that is being read. What is often mistakenly done is, the theme is misinterpreted as the subject in the literary piece, when it should be understood to be an opinion or statement of expression. Throughout this essay I will demonstrate how themes can be expressed and be identified as a reflection of expression of the author’s intent and thoughts. In addition, I will inform you of the types of themes that can be presented within a literary work.

“Theme”, what is theme? Theme is the main idea or underlying meaning of a literary work. It is usually identified as a discussion, a discourse, a meditation or a composition; a unifying or dominant idea. It is important to know that not every literary work has a theme. When there is a theme within a literary work, the theme can be major or minor. The theme is reiterated over and over again by the author and can be expressed in more than one way from more than one perspective. Dominant themes might be expressed by innocence/experience, life/death, appearance/reality, free will/fate, madness/sanity, love/hate, society/individual, known/unknown. Themes may have a single, instead of a dual nature as well. The theme of a story may be a mid-life crisis, or imagination, or the duality of humankind (contradictions).

A theme may be presented in more than one way in a single literary piece and it can be expressed in more than one way throughout several literary pieces. There are four ways in which an author can express themes within their literary work. The first way would be, themes are expressed and emphasized by the way the author makes us feel. In other words, by you as the reader sharing feelings of the main character you also share the ideas that go through the mind of the author. Secondly, themes are presented in thoughts and conversations. Authors put words in their character’s mouths only for good reasons. One of these reasons is to develop a story’s theme/s. Something to remember when searching for a theme within a literary piece would be, the things a person says are much on their mind. Look for thoughts that are repeated throughout the story. Another way in which theme may be expressed would be suggested through the characters of the story or composition. The main character usually illustrates the most important theme of the story. A good way to locate a theme within a literary work is to ask yourself the question, what does the main character learn throughout the course of the story? What are the course of actions that led to the conclusion and lesson learned? The actions or events in the story are used to suggest theme. People naturally express ideas and feelings through their actions. One thing authors think about is what an action will "say". In other words, how will the course of action express an idea or theme? Themes are found within short stories or novels, usually any sort of fiction. When developing a theme/s within a literary piece there are other...

Cited: DiYanni, Robert. New York University, 2007. Literature, Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 6th Edition.
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