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  • 1. Universal Themes in LiteratureUniversal Themes in Literature
  • 2. What is a Theme?What is a Theme?  A theme is aA theme is a central messagecentral message revealedrevealed through a literary work.through a literary work.  It is aIt is a lessonlesson that the selection teaches or athat the selection teaches or a major point that the selection as a whole ismajor point that the selection as a whole is about.about.  It is aIt is a generalization about people or aboutgeneralization about people or about lifelife that is communicated through thethat is communicated through the literary work.literary work.
  • 3. The Theme can beThe Theme can be Directly Stated or ImpliedDirectly Stated or Implied  When a theme isWhen a theme is directly stateddirectly stated, the reader, the reader is told what the theme of the selection is.is told what the theme of the selection is.  When a theme of a work isWhen a theme of a work is impliedimplied, readers, readers think about what the work seems to saythink about what the work seems to say about nature of people or about life.about nature of people or about life.
  • 4. Important things to noteImportant things to note about Themeabout Theme  There is usually no single correct statementThere is usually no single correct statement of a work’s theme, though there can beof a work’s theme, though there can be incorrect ones.incorrect ones.  A long work, like a novel, full-length playA long work, like a novel, full-length play or screen play may have several themes.or screen play may have several themes.  Not all literary works have themes - a workNot all literary works have themes - a work meant only to entertain may have no thememeant only to entertain may have no theme at at.at at.
  • 5. 5 What is the theme? Jenny Puchovier was so excited. She had a pack of Starburst in her lunch and she had been looking forward to eating them all morning. Lunch finally came and Jenny sat down to eat her Starbursts when her friend Yudy sat next to her. “Let me get the pink ones,” asked Yudy. Jenny liked the pink ones best, but she thought Yudy was funny and Jenny wanted Yudy to like her, so Jenny gave Yudy all of her pink Starbursts. Before Jenny was done giving Yudy the pink ones, Carrie sat on the other side of Jenny. “Let me get the red and the orange ones, Jenny. Remember when I gave you that Snickers?” Jenny didn’t remember that, though she did remember when Carrie ate a whole Snickers in front of her, but Jenny thought Carrie was cool, so she gave her the red and the orange Starbursts. Now that she only had the yellow ones, Jenny wasn’t so excited about eating starbursts anymore.
  • 6. 6 Identifying Themes Themes are not explicit (clearly stated). Themes are implied. Themes are bigger than the story. Big World of the Theme. Small World of the Story
  • 7. 7 Themes are about the big picture. Not “Yellow Starbursts taste bad” Not “Yudy and Carrie are bad friends.” Think BIGGER. Find “Real” World advice. Big World of the Theme. Small World of the Story
  • 8. 8 • Through metaphor • Through simile • Through personification • Through tone of voice • Through symbols Sometimes implied A THEME is...
  • 9. 9 • Life is a yo-yo. It's a series of ups and downs. Implied through metaphors A THEME is...
  • 10. 10 Dream Deferred What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore— and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over— like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load Or does it just explode? - Langston Hughes Implied through simile A THEME is...
  • 11. 11 Sleeping in the Forest by Mary Oliver I thought the earth remembered me, she took me back so tenderly, arranging her dark skirts, her pockets full of lichens and seeds. --- Implied through personification A THEME is...
  • 12. 12 Implied through tone of voice A THEME is...
  • 13. 13 Implied through symbols A THEME is...
  • 14. Understanding the differenceUnderstanding the difference between Main Idea, Subject,between Main Idea, Subject, Topic and Theme:Topic and Theme:
  • 15. Main IdeaMain Idea The Main Idea is any idea that isThe Main Idea is any idea that is particularly important or central in aparticularly important or central in a written work.written work. QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.
  • 16. Subject = TopicSubject = Topic TheThe SubjectSubject oror TopicTopic is what theis what the selection as a whole is about.selection as a whole is about. And remember theAnd remember the ThemeTheme is theis the message or lesson that the author ismessage or lesson that the author is trying to communicate.trying to communicate.
  • 17. Main IdeaMain Idea The Subject/Topic and ThemeThe Subject/Topic and Theme fall under the umbrellafall under the umbrella of the Main Idea.of the Main Idea. QuickTime™ and a Graphics decompressor are needed to see this picture. MAIN IDEA Subject/Topic Theme What the selection as a whole is about The lesson or message the author is trying to make
  • 18. When we learn about literatureWhen we learn about literature we often ask many questions:we often ask many questions:  What is genre?What is genre?  Why read?Why read?  Why do authors write?Why do authors write?  Do people read and write for the sameDo people read and write for the same reasons?reasons?
  • 19. Why Read?Why Read?  To gain knowledge, get facts/ideasTo gain knowledge, get facts/ideas  Entertainment/pleasureEntertainment/pleasure  To forget somethingTo forget something  To transport yourself to your own fantasylandTo transport yourself to your own fantasyland  To be aloneTo be alone  To relaxTo relax  We have toWe have to  To learn about lifeTo learn about life
  • 20. Why Write?Why Write?  To share stories/ideasTo share stories/ideas  To keep history aliveTo keep history alive  Express our feelingsExpress our feelings  To say what we knowTo say what we know  To entertain othersTo entertain others  To communicateTo communicate  To tell about yourselfTo tell about yourself  To express yourselfTo express yourself
  • 21. Common Themes in LiteratureCommon Themes in Literature  The only person you can truly trustThe only person you can truly trust is yourselfis yourself  It is important to follow yourIt is important to follow your instinctsinstincts  Man is inherently evilMan is inherently evil  Man is inherently goodMan is inherently good  Its not always good to listen toIts not always good to listen to societysociety  Its important to never give upIts important to never give up  Human beings are products of theirHuman beings are products of their societysociety  It’s a crime to kill innocenceIt’s a crime to kill innocence  The innocent aren’t always treatedThe innocent aren’t always treated fairlyfairly  It is important to stand up for whatIt is important to stand up for what you believe inyou believe in  Working as a team or group is moreWorking as a team or group is more powerful than working alonepowerful than working alone  Be careful who you dateBe careful who you date  Be careful who your friends areBe careful who your friends are  Trust your instinctsTrust your instincts  Do what you must to surviveDo what you must to survive  Follow your imaginationFollow your imagination  There are times when you should getThere are times when you should get revenge on your enemiesrevenge on your enemies  Life doesn’t always have happyLife doesn’t always have happy endingsendings  The force is a metaphor forThe force is a metaphor for spiritualityspirituality  The force is the energy that binds allThe force is the energy that binds all life togetherlife together