Writing a Thematic Statement • Theme-Central message of a literary work. • IT IS NOT: the subject, which can be expressed in one or two words.
Example • If love is a topic/subject of two novels, a major theme in of the novels could be “Love, if taken to extremes, can be negative rather than positive,” while in the other novel, the theme might be “Love can conquer even the greatest evil.” • Notice that the topic/subject is the same, but the message about that topic/subject are different in different works.
ONE WORD THEMES…..a big no-no!! • A theme is a meaning of work. • Yes, there can be more than one “meaning.” • Can the meaning of a work be love? Hate? Greed? NO—it makes no sense!! Those are just topics, not themes. • THE THEME IS THE STATEMENT THAT THE AUTHOR IS MAKING ABOUT A TOPIC!
Stating the theme of a work in literature: • Begin by using several abstract words to state the principal ideas of a work (topics that the piece is really about. • Abstract words describe concepts or ideas that exist only in our minds like: • Alienation • Prejudice • Ambition, freedom, loyalty, passion, ect.
Stating the theme-Continued • Combine those abstract ideas with comments that reflect the author’s observation about human nature, the human condition, or human motivation. • In other words, what is the author saying about the abstract idea?
Avoiding Common Mistakes… • A theme is NOT a moral, directive, or an order (these tell us how to behave or what to do). • Themes are NOT short clichés. While themes are often stated in one sentence, they can be written in two or more sentences that reflect the complexity of life echoed in a work of literature. • Themes do NOT refer to specific names or events. • Themes avoid absolute terms such as: all, none, everything, and always because they indicate sloppy thinking.
EXAMPLE of a theme statement : • Answer the following question in 1-3 words: • What is “______title of work ________ about? • Complete the next 2 steps: • What does _________ say/believe about ________? • (In the first blank, insert the author’s name. In the second blank, insert what you answered for step # 1)
Example of a theme statement • Answer the above question in this format:(Author) believes/says that……. • (Insert the author’s name in the blank and then complete the sentence.)
Theme statement • Cross out the first three words from the sentence you have just completed above. • Coffin believes that friendship provides a sense of peace and joy to a person….. • Take out the first three words and you have your theme statement:Friendship provides a sense of peace and joy to people.