- Theme (literature)
A theme, from
Old French"tesme", is a broad idea in a story or literary work, or a message or lesson conveyed by a written text. This message is usually about life, societyor human nature. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas. Most themes are implied rather than explicitly stated. The theme is different from the superficial outlay of the text; it is normally the meaning of the text on a deeper, more abstract level.
Themes arise from the interplay of
plot, setting, character, conflict, and tone. Deep thematic content is not required in literature; however, certain types of literary analysis(like reader's response and socio-cultural analysis) hold that all stories inherently project some kind of outlook on life that can be taken as a theme.
Themes are often interpreted in diverse ways by different people or critics, regardless of whether or not the discussed theme was the original intent of the author. The same story can also be given very different themes in the hands of different authors. For instance, the source for Shakespeare's "
Romeo and Juliet", Matteo Bandello's " The Tragical History of Romeo and Juliet" emphasizes the perils of dishonesty and disobedience.
The word 'theme' comes from the Old French word "tesme" (French: thème), from
Latin"thema", from Ancient Greek "θέμα" (théma), from τίθημι (tithemi), meaning “‘I put, place’”, which in turn is reduplicative from the Proto-Indo-European word *dʰeh₁-, meaning ‘to put, place, do’.
Themes differ from culture to culture, but there is a general set of "classic themes" that are prevalent in all cultures and histories. These themes have their roots in the oral traditions of different cultures, and recurr in a range or literary works.
Conflictis the essence of fiction, whether oral or written. Conflicts are generally born of one of several main types. cite web|url=http://www.orangeusd.k12.ca.us/yorba/literary_elements.htm|title=Literary elements|last=Bokesch|first=Laura |language=English|accessdate=2008-08-22 ]
* Man versus man: this is conflict in which one
characteror historic figure is made to fight against another person or group of people.
* Man versus
society: conflict of this sort is generally between one man and the society to which he belongs, or the beliefs to which he adheres. In this form of conflict, the values and customs of a specific place or communityare challenged by the individual, generally the protagonistof the text.
* Man versus self: this is the classic example of internal turmoil. The character is at conflict with himself, with his ideals, thoughts or the memories of his past actions. An excellent example of this, as well as conflict between man and society is the play "
The Crucible", by Arthur Miller. The character John Proctoris in conflict with himself as he had, in the past, committed the sin of adultery. He is also at odds with the community of Salem thus providing an example of conflict between man and society. [cite book|last=Arthur|first=Miller|title= The Crucible|publisher=Heinemann Publishers|location=London, UK|date=1952|isbn=0-435-23281-9|language=English]
* Man versus
nature: This form of conflict occurs when one man has to struggle against the forces of nature, when it be wilderness survival, or, for instance, a struggle against the use of biological weapons. This conflict can also be called when a character is racing against time.
The theme of
redemptionis also a major literary device. The protagonist of the text will often have committed a past crime, and must succeed in a questin order to atone for their sins. Their journey is often both mental as well as physical, as they struggle against their inner demons and base desires.
* [http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/theme Wictionary definition]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Theme — may refer to:The arts* Theme (music), the initial or principal melody in a musical piece * Theme (literature), the unifying subject or idea of a story * Theme (arts), the unifying subject or idea of a visual work * Theme music, signature music… … Wikipedia
LITERATURE, JEWISH — Literature on Jewish themes and in languages regarded as Jewish has been written continuously for the past 3,000 years. What the term Jewish literature encompasses, however, demands definition, since Jews have lived in so many countries and have… … Encyclopedia of Judaism
literature — [n] written matter, both fictional and nonfictional abstract, article, belles lettres, biography, books, brochure, classics, comment, composition, critique, discourse, discussion, disquisition, dissertation, drama, essay, exposition, findings,… … New thesaurus
theme — ► NOUN 1) a subject or topic on which a person speaks, writes, or thinks. 2) Music a prominent or frequently recurring melody or group of notes in a composition. 3) an idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature. 4) (before… … English terms dictionary
literature — /lit euhr euh cheuhr, choor , li treuh /, n. 1. writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays. 2.… … Universalium
Literature of the Kingdom of Mysore — The Kingdom of Mysore (Kannada: ಮೈಸೂರು ಸಾಮ್ರಾಜ್ಯ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ, 1399 1947) was founded by Yaduraya in 1399 as a feudatory of the Vijayanagara Empire and became an independent kingdom in the early 17th century after the decline of the Empire. Though… … Wikipedia
theme — 01. The [theme] of the conference is Europe in the Next Century . 02. The main [theme] of the novel is the importance of love in human relationships. 03. A determination to improve social programs has been a popular [theme] during the election.… … Grammatical examples in English
theme — [[t]θi͟ːm[/t]] ♦♦♦ themes 1) N COUNT: usu with supp A theme in a piece of writing, a talk, or a discussion is an important idea or subject that runs through it. The theme of the conference is renaissance Europe... That s another element in… … English dictionary
Literature of Eritrea — The literature of Eritrea in the Tigrinya language dates, as far as is currently known, from the late 19th century. It was initially encouraged by European missionaries, but suffered from the general repression of Eritrean culture under Fascist… … Wikipedia
Theme (arts) — In the visual arts, a theme is a broad idea or a message conveyed by work done in a visual experience, such as a performance, a painting, or a motion picture.it is also something required for most art critics. This message is usually about life,… … Wikipedia