What is Theme?
Theme is what the text tries to communicate to
the audience. In a well constructed text, the
theme will not be easy to determine, and will
often prove debatable. Your job as the critic is
to determine what you think the theme is, and
then try to convince your readers that you’re
How do I convince?
You have to prove to your readers that you are
an authority on the text. If you are using the
text as your main source, your authority comes
from evidence you pull from the text.
How do I evidence?
Here’s an example. After reading T.S. Eliot’s
The Wasteland, you decide that the theme of
the text is about destruction. You would then
find evidence to support your claim, such as
the repetition of the word “burning” in “The Fire
Sermon.” You explain that fire often destroys,
so burning brings about an image of
destruction, which contributes to the overall
Over the course of the text
Make sure the evidence you gather for your
theme occurs over the course of the text. If
there’s only one image of destruction in the
poem, then perhaps that’s not a strong enough