Talk:Theme (narrative)

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Question about the nature of 'Theme'[edit]

Hence, 'Good and Evil' is not a theme, but 'Good cannot survive without evil' is one. I'm fairly sure that's the correct idea of theme, thus making most of the examples given here, well, wrong. Especially the ones in bold about To Kill a Mockingbird- I'm going to take those out. Correct me if I'm wrong (as I'm sure you will). Wtstar 02:54, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm couldn't agree with you more. I believe ideas on the order of "Good versus Evil" are best classified as "thematic topics" because they simply aren't meaningful messages. They are what a work is about on an abstract level. True themes take such ideas to the level of "Good cannot survive without evil," a fine example, or even something so simple as "Evil will always exist.Special:Contributions/|]] (talk) 03:44, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

This is correct. "Love," for instance, is a subject, not a theme. "Love gives meaning to life" is a theme. It is also important to remember that theme is a central idea or question in the story. It is commonly oversimplified as the "message," but many stories do not have a "message." "Message" implies that the author is imposing his or her view on the reader; often, theme is a left open-ended, as the author asks and explores a question but does not provide a sure answer. Only such stories as fables, allegories, morality tales, etc. can be said to always have thematic "messages." Also, the last sentence in the introduction ("It is the universal statement or feel when you read a piece of writing") is atrocious, incoherent, and it contains second person. I am removing it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:09, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

Many sources make this distinction: "The subject is what the work is about. You can state the subject in a word or phrase: 'The subject of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 is love.' In contrast, theme is what the work says about the subject. Stating a theme requires a complete sentence, sometimes several sentences: 'A theme of Sonnet 116 is, "Love remains constant even when assaulted by tempestuous events or by time.'" (Griffith, K., 2006, Writing essays about literature: a guide and style sheet. p. 32) Similarly, "Theme is the central idea or message in a work of literature. The theme of a piece of literature should not be confused with the subject of the work, but rather, it is a general statement about life or human nature." (Woken-Rowley, K., 2005, Among the hidden literature guide. p. 35) Ewulp (talk) 04:50, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
Why is the distinction between subject and theme, discussed here, not made on the theme page itself? Even the links at the bottom of the article (Common Themes in Literature, for example) lead to a page that lists a bunch of sentence-long theme-statements that directly contradict the article's current (Jan-2012) statement that "theme" is like "motif." It seems to me that the citations above from Ewulp are sufficient to change the article to reflect the distinction between "subject" and "theme." If there's other stuff going on with the page that a newcomer like me is unaware of, please say. Barring such "other stuff," however, I think this article really needs to be changed.Eric Qel-Droma (talk) 17:32, 31 January 2012 (UTC)


Ok, I added a section with examples of themes in literature. I am going to remove the list of themes since most are not valid themes. I will place it on this page for now. Please discuss if you find this change unacceptable. Applejuicefool 16:02, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Probably could stand to be split off to a separate page: List of Themes/Motifs in Literature. (a metalist 0:) 13:21, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

A change is needed within the "leitwortstil" section; stating that the device dates back to 1001 Nights and then that it's also used in classical Hebrew narratives doesn't make any sense, given that classical hebrew narratives pre-date 1001 nights! This section cites David Pinault's "Story-Telling Techniques in the Arabian Nights" as supporting the `dates back to' statement, but Mr Pinault's book (which you can check for yourselves at googlebooks) actually merely states that the device exists in the 1001 text and says nothing about this being an early/earliest (whatever) example of the technique.

Useless statements[edit]

There where quite a few useless paragraphs that where distracting from the point. What was the point about Dr.Seuss. 21:42, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

The theme is also the lesson learned not only by the character but by the reader

While the theme can be a lesson learned by the character and the reader, in some cases only the reader learns it, namely in the case of a static, or unchanging, character. Arknascar44 21:43, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

ok guys bad and good are topics buy here is an example of a theme... there is always good in bad or the is always bad in good(pretty simpler) but they are themes. no lots simplify theme to be a message but lots of authors dont send messages especially fantasy authors. a theme is the main purpose of the story or the sub idea, as it that it is supporting or even being the main idea. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:43, 31 May 2012 (UTC)