This semester's three literary masterpieces all have one thing in common: appearance vs. reality. This is a recurring subject across the literary world. It is not restricted to any one genre or time period; it may be found in a wide range of works. Popular examples include The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which the beauty of the main character is destroyed by what appears to be a normal act of sinning, and is reflected in his/her entire existence; and Oedipus Rex, in which the main character believes he is guilty of murdering his father and marrying his mother, only to discover that it was actually another person who did these things. Reality is often different from what we think it is.
The importance of this topic is shown by the fact that there are many books about it. For example, There Are Two Olympsities: A Dream Play by Samuel Beckett looks at how our views of reality can be very different from the actual truth.
It can also be found in poems, stories, and essays. Here are just some of the many writers who have discussed this theme or related topics: Oscar Wilde, Henrik Ibsen, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, John Cheever, Raymond Carver, Donald Barthelme, Joseph Heller, Philip Roth, Elie Wiesel, and Toni Morrison are just some of the many famous names in literature who have done so.
One distinguishing feature of literary themes is their universality; that is, themes are concepts that relate not just to the unique characters and events in a book or play, but also convey greater truths about human experience that readers may apply to their own lives. Many themes appear again and again in different works, which shows they're ideas that matter to people across time and place.
Themes can also be described as central or important topics in literature. While some themes may only be mentioned briefly or allude to in a work, others will so thoroughly pervade a story or novel that they become central to its meaning or purpose.
Finally, themes can be categorized by their relationship to the main character(s). Some themes are external to the character and therefore exist independently from any specific individual. For example, the theme "death" can be found in many different books, because it is an abstract concept that applies to everyone who has ever lived or will ever live even if they don't know it. Other themes are internal to certain individuals and thus applicable only to them. A character might believe they are invincible, for example, or might not trust other people, and this would be reflected in the way they interacted with these concepts through their relationships with other characters. The theme "invincibility" would not be relevant to someone else's life even though death does occur in fiction.
A literary topic is the central concept or underlying meaning explored by a writer in a novel, short tale, or other literary work. A story's theme can be communicated through characters, setting, dialogue, narrative, or a mixture of all of these components. The theme of a work may be apparent from the title or revealed during analysis of the content.
The themes in Shakespeare's plays are many and varied. They include love, death, marriage, jealousy, revenge, temptation, choice, freedom, loyalty, betrayal, guilt, innocence, prejudice, equality, privilege, honor, shame, desire, opportunity, conflict.
The themes in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey are also wide-ranging, including friendship, courage, greed, violence, sacrifice, fate, mortality.
Many classic novels deal with similar topics as Shakespeare's plays, such as crime and punishment, love and marriage. Others focus on issues that might not necessarily be considered "themes" per se, such as finding one's place in society. Still others explore more unusual ideas or situations which still manage to communicate a message about human nature or experience. For example, Henry David Thoreau's Walden; Martin Luther King Jr's Letter From Birmingham Jail; and Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway each offer unique perspectives on life but all deal with common themes such as loneliness, injustice, and memory.
What Exactly Is a Literary Theme? The theme of a work may be apparent from its title or described by the author as being related to its content.
The theme of a poem can be identified by considering what kind of experience the poet is trying to convey through his or her words. For example, "Love is beautiful" and "Darkness is scary but it's also safe" are two themes that can be identified by looking at how different poems deal with love and darkness. One way to interpret these themes is to think about what feelings they convey along with physical sensations (for "love is beautiful", this might be thoughts of beauty and joy) and what fears they might induce (for "darkness is scary but it's also safe", perhaps memories of events that made us feel afraid).
Poems often use language that invokes specific emotions in their readers. For example, when describing love, poets often use adjectives such as "beautiful", "sweet", and "lovely" to create a feeling of pleasure in their listeners. When describing darkness, poets often use words like "scary", "mysterious", and "sinister" to make their readers feel fear.
Conflict between the individual and society; coming of age; people at odds with technology; nostalgia; and the risks of unrestrained ambition are typical examples of this sort of topic. A topic in a novel might be exemplified through a character's actions, words, or thoughts. The theme of a poem can be inferred from its title or stated directly in the text.
A theme can also be described as the underlying principle that connects all parts of a work of art. The themes of Shakespeare's plays are human nature; love's triumph over adversity; passion and revenge; guilt and redemption. The themes of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey are pride and humility; courage and fear; friendship and loyalty; suffering and forgiveness. The themes of Michelangelo's paintings are beauty, honor, and death.
Themes can also apply to films, music albums, and other forms of media. These themes include action movies, adventure movies, romance movies, etc. ; hard rock, heavy metal, punk, new wave, etc. ; good music, better music, best music; etc.
Some authors claim that their books have no theme but rather are "topic-driven". This means that the writer attempts to cover a wide range of topics within their field and hopes that one subject will appear interesting enough to hold our attention for the length of the book.