Finding Themes

Finding Themes

Identifying themes is often a tough task for English students. First of all, the very idea of a theme can be hard for students to understand-what does it even mean to write about the human condition, anyway? And then, even if you see a theme in a book, finding a way to analyze and write about that theme can be a whole new challenge. But this process doesn't have to be a challenge, and with a little bit of practice anyone can be an expert on finding, analyzing, and writing about themes.

What Is a Theme?

Put simply, the theme is what a novel, short story, play, or poem is about. This doesn't mean the story; things like character and plot will help build the theme, but they aren't the theme itself. Instead, you want to focus on the ideas behind the story. What is the story trying to say about the world and what it means to be a person trying to live in it? The plot of The Great Gatsby revolves around a man trying to win back his long-lost love, but the novel is really about the idea that no one can truly escape their past. Gatsby thinks that with enough money he can bury the person he used to be, but in the end that only gets him killed.
Notice that our theme here-that no one can truly escape their past-is a complete sentence. It's important when writing about theme to separate it from the subject or topic of the work, which is just a simple word or phrase. The topic of The Great Gatsby is the past and the American Dream; the theme is what the author is trying to say to us about those topics. When analyzing literature it's important to say not just the subject, but a full theme statement that encompasses what the story is saying about that subject.

Finding Themes

There are a number of techniques you can use to help identify the themes in a novel, short story, play, or poem. Most of these boil down to simply reading the text closely; often, it doesn't take more than a cursory reading to see the main topic of a work. Once you've identified the main topic-an idea like ambition, innocence, the dangers of technology, or family-you need to decide what message the author is trying to say about that topic.
If you're having trouble determining the theme of a text, try looking out for these common writing tricks.

Repetition

If a subject is important to the writer, it's going to come up again and again in the story. Often different characters will be tackling the same issue throughout the story, and how each character handles this topic will tell you something about the theme. For example, in The Great Gatsby, the idea of ambition shows up throughout the book. Many of the characters are trying to improve their situations, and their various failures tell us what the book's author thinks about ambition (namely, that striving for material wealth gets you nothing but trouble).
In short works like stories or plays you might look for words or actions that are repeated throughout the text. If a poem uses a lot of nature imagery or the characters in a play keep repeating the same phrase over and over, it's a good bet that those words are key to understand what that work is about.

Symbolic language

Authors often use metaphors, allusion, symbols, and other literary devices to draw the reader's attention to the themes in their work. Going back to The Great Gatsby, the geographic location of the characters-from the East Egg to the West Egg to the ash heap-is a metaphor for the issues of class and lifestyle that separate them. As the characters struggle to connect and understand the each other, the physical gulf between them becomes an important comment on the themes of class and ambition. When you're looking for themes, keep an eye out for literary devices like this that recur throughout the text.

Shifts

Another good device to key in on when you're looking for themes is shifts in the work. This might be something small-for example, at the end of the poem "I Wandered Lonely as A Cloud," the tone shifts and the author finishes with several lines that sum up his feelings about what makes nature important to him. Shifts like these should immediately draw your attention and let you know that something important is happening. In longer works, look for shifts in characters or unexpected plot developments that challenge your expectations or beliefs-these types of changes are the author's way to telling you something important.

Compare and contrast

Often authors will use characters or settings in their stories that are designed to specifically stand in contrast to other elements in the work. In The Great Gatsby, part of why the audience knows Gatsby's dreams are doomed to fail is that we've seen Tom, who represents the worst parts of what Gatsby wants to be, and we know that Gatsby can never really win against him. When you're looking for the subject or theme, try to find strong differences or similarities between the characters and examine how those element impact the story.
Part of the reason writing about themes is difficult for students is that there's no one right answer. Most of the texts that get studied in classes are a complicated mixture of ideas that present layered, nuanced views that aren't easy to capture in one or two sentences. So, if you're having trouble identifying a single unifying theme or getting a handle of just what an author is trying to say, don't think that's it's necessarily your fault. As with so many things in English class, themes are often a matter of interpretation. If, instead of focusing on finding the right answer, you try to find a theme that you can back up with evidence from the text, then you'll be just fine.
photo

Kevin Demlon

writer

Kevin writes helpful articles to share his knowledge with students in need. He enjoys writing articles on new subjects and does his best to create each post showing writing tips in a clear way. writer

Our TOP writers

TOP 10
Writer 89474
ID 89474

Master's in Project Management, PMP, Six Sigma

Rating 99.2%
(99.2%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (8) about writer 89474

5740 written pages

1149 orders

1057 a+ papers

My Master’s degree and comprehensive writing experience allow me to complete any order fast and hit the nail on the head every time.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 99423
ID 99423

MBA, PMP, ITIL

Rating 98.5%
(98.5%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (7) about writer 99423

5106 written pages

1023 orders

972 a+ papers

I am experienced writer with an MBA, PMP, ITIL, that consistently delivers unique, quality papers. I take pride in my experience and quickness.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 141618
ID 141618

MS in Human Resource Management

Rating 98.8%
(98.8%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (9) about writer 141618

2245 written pages

225 orders

203 a+ papers

I hold a MS degree in Human Resource and my goal is to help students with flawless, unique papers, delivered on time.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 115275
ID 115275

RN, MSN, PCN, PHN

Rating 99.6%
(99.6%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (6) about writer 115275

971 written pages

245 orders

223 a+ papers

As Registered Nurse (RN, PCN), I can quickly deal with any medical paper. My expertise and writing skills are perfect for this job.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 103208
ID 103208

MPA, MHA

Rating 99.3%
(99.3%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (8) about writer 103208

6632 written pages

948 orders

872 a+ papers

I have MPA, MHA degrees but, most importantly, experience and skills to provide unique, well-written papers on time.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 35119
ID 35119

DNP, BA, APN, PMHNP-BC

Rating 97.7%
(97.7%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (9) about writer 35119

30822 written pages

4404 orders

4140 a+ papers

I can write about multiple areas and countless topics, as I have a DNP and BA degrees. High-quality writing is my second name.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 85466
ID 85466

PhD in American History

Rating 97.6%
(97.6%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (8) about writer 85466

15494 written pages

1938 orders

1686 a+ papers

A PhD in American history comes handy. Unique papers, any topics, swift delivery — helping with academic writing is my passion.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 151822
ID 151822

MA, PsyD, LMFT

Rating 98.7%
(98.7%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (7) about writer 151822

1325 written pages

166 orders

151 a+ papers

Incredibly fast PsyD writer. Efficient paper writing for college. Hundreds of different tasks finished. Satisfaction guaranteed.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 47072
ID 47072

MEd, NCC, LPC, LMFT

Rating 99.2%
(99.2%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (9) about writer 47072

11802 written pages

2952 orders

2598 a+ papers

Top-ranked writer with tons of experience. Ready to take on any task, and make it unique, as well as objectively good. Always ready!

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 142628
ID 142628

MSW, LICSWA, DSW-C

Rating 100%
(100%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (8) about writer 142628

2001 written pages

670 orders

623 a+ papers

Experienced Social Work expert focused on good writing, total uniqueness, and customer satisfaction. My goal — to help YOU.

hire writer

Buy your papers from the best writing service

Have your tasks done by our professionals to get the best possible results.

total: $8.51
Confidentiality

NO Billing information is kept with us. You pay through secure and verified payment systems.

Quality

All papers we provide are of the highest quality with a well-researched material, proper format and citation style.

Communication

Our 24/7 Support team is available to assist you at any time. You also can communicate with your writer during the whole process.

Authorship

You are the single owner of the completed order. We DO NOT resell any papers written by our expert

Originality

All orders are done from scratch following your instructions. Also, papers are reviewed for plagiarism and grammar mistakes.

Samples

You can check the quality of our work by looking at various paper examples in the Samples section on our website.

Special price $8.51/page
Place an order
63,000
more than 63,000 times students trusted us to write their papers
9/10
9 out of 10 customers recommend us*
92%
92% of our customers have placed more than 7 orders
*data is based on 6,568 customers' feedback received from Jan 1, 2017 till Jan 1, 2018.
Special price $8.51/page
Place an order
Customer #4591

Hate all these papers, but this service is my real salvation :) I can enjoy my free time without insomnia and books and get an A! Especially, I like the revision option - very useful when your prof's requirements are crazy.

Customer #2020

Your services are good and I will use your help in the future. My research paper on business was good and got a grade I expected. I think you need to expand your services and offer other types of assignments but in general I am satisfied.

Estimated Deadline: Thursday, Jul 01 1:14 PM in Your timezone
Total price: $8.51
Price starts from $8.51
Regular discounts and offers
Excellent results guaranteed
Professional 24/7 support

Free samples of our work

There are different types of essays: narrative, persuasive, compare\contrast, definition and many many others. They are written using a required citation style, where the most common are APA and MLA. We want to share some of the essays samples written on various topics using different citation styles.

services
Hey, you...Yes, you! Don’t you want to get your Discount?
binder1
binder2
Your discount will be
sent to the email!

I have read and agree to the Terms of Use, Money Back Guarantee, Privacy and Cookie Policy of BestCustomWriting.com

  • dmca_logo
  • safecharge
  • trustpilot

Use your opportunity to get a discount!

To get your special discount, write your email below

  • dmca_logo
  • safecharge
  • trustpilot

Best papers and best prices!

Want to get quality paper done on time cheaper?

  • dmca_logo
  • safecharge
  • trustpilot