How to Write a Theme Properly

Matthew Miller and Johnathan Pugh

What is a Theme?

  • A theme is the central message of literary work. It differs from the subject, which can be expressed in a word or two I.E: Courage, Pride
  • The theme is the idea the author wishes to convey ABOUT the subject

Good Characteristics of a Theme

  • Expressed in a complete sentence
  • Describes the general meaning of the story
  • Must hold for the WHOLE story not just one part.
  • Avoids Using cliche remarks.

What is NOT considered a Theme?

A theme is NOT a moral or command, nor is it a cliché and refrains from using words like all, everything, or always because that kind of statement is rarely true. They also don't refer to the specific names or events in a literary piece.

Do's and Don'ts...

. DO....

· Gain a general understanding of the characters actions.

· Express the theme as an understanding of life.

· Say it in your own words.

· Express the theme as a general statement on the topic


· Don't express as a cliché

· Don't make it too broad or general I.E: Being poor causes criminal acts

Steps to Writing a Theme.

· Step 1: Choose an abstract concept like unrequited love, freedom, abuse, jealously, self-pity, or fear of the dark that the work explores.

· Step 2: The (genre), (title) by (author) is about (topic/abtract concept).

Step 3: Now, you need to state what the literacy work asserts about this abstract topic. If about jealousy, what opinion does it express about the effect of jealousy on human

Bad Theme Statement:

In the comedy The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare displays that honesty is the best policy.

Good: Theme statement

Theme Topic: Pride.

In William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice he shows that pride can be an asset to a humans character and a detriment as well.

Another Bad Theme statement

Throughout William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice He Displays Greed with Portia and Nerrisa while they were talking about the wooers who had come and failed Portia's father "Pick-a-Box" test to see who would marry her. If Portia wished to have her fathers money she was forced to follow through with it.