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Determining Theme

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Determining Theme

  1. 1. DETERMINING THEME Literacy Standard 11-12.2
  2. 2. 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 right.
  3. 3. 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.
  4. 4. 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 theme.
  5. 5. 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 theme.  Good Luck!

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