Theme Statement

What is it?

The Basics

A theme is the message which the author is trying to portray in a story, book, text, etc. It is what the author wants you to learn or know. Theme should describe the general meaning of the story. It is not 1 word, a directive, trite sayings like " Actions Speak Louder than words", it does not refer to specific names or events in a piece of literature.
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Identifying a Theme Statement

1. Identify the central purpose of the theme

2. Understand the plot of the selection

3. Select a subject (Ex. Prejudice or racism)

4. Gather the cause of this subject (Ex. Prejudice and racism was a result of enslaving Africans and treating them like property)

5. Put it all into a sentence, essentially creating your theme statement

What does a Theme Statement include?

A theme subject includes a main "big idea" or abstract concept that shows what you are identifying from the selection. It will also include a what you believe this theme reveals about the selection or passage.


  • Draw a general insight from a character’s behavior
  • Use qualifying words in a thematic statement, such as sometimes, can, may, and often
  • Find the deeper meaning to life
  • Rephrase the theme into your own words
  • Express the theme as a general comment on a subject


  • Express the theme as a subject or topic
  • Say the theme is something like " the apple doesn't fall far from the tree"
  • Say a moral is a theme (Ex. Tell the truth)
  • Make a thematic statement too general (Avoid the use of words such as always, never, or all"
  • Refer to characters directly in a theme statement


1) The Merchants of Venice by William Shakespeare has the theme of loyalty, because many individuals make irrational decisions for their friends simply because they are friends.

2) In The Merchants of Venice by William Shakespeare exploits a theme of Arrogance, the play shows this theme because some people dive in headlong into situations they think they can solve, even though there was no guarantee.

3) In the play The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare the theme of vengeance is shown as some people are willing to go to almost any means to exact their revenge because of the hatred which people can have toward each other.