Theme: Review/Tutorial


As we discussed in class, theme is the author’s message to the reader and observation about life; therefore, this message not only applies to the text, but to real life as well.

Remember, one word “themes” are not really themes at all, but “indicators”- broad ideas that help us to formulate more specific ideas. You must ask yourself, what is the author saying about passion vs. reason? That statement is then the THEME. Read the example below of a possible theme for Jane Eyre.

Example: Oftentimes, reacting with passion to a given situation can later result in consequences that may prove regrettable.

Let’s review some basic guidelines when creating THEMES:

  1. No first/second person
  2. No absolute wording (always, everyone, must, etc)
  3. Must contain a cause-effect statement (it answers the ‘so what?’ question)
  4. No references to text
  5. No clichés
  6. Maintain proper pronoun-antecedent agreement (this always applies!)

Note: Many students having good starting ideas about the theme, but they are still incomplete or lack a clear message. Remember, take it past the obvious: “sometimes, one reacts with passion rather than reason”. So what? Be sure to include the “so what?” in your theme!


Identify the error with each theme and then REWRITE the theme so that it is correct according to the guildelines. There may be more than one error in each:

A. Sometimes, people hurt one another out of jealousy, but what goes around comes around.


B. You shouldn’t try to change someone’s identity, but allow them to express themselves.


C. One should think before taking an action.


D. You should never judge a book by its cover.


E. The book’s theme is pride and its consequences.



Now, write a complete theme for each of the following texts using the indicator to help you. However, you do not have to use the indicator in your statement.


1. Silas Marner: Ostracism


2. Raisin in the Sun: Pride


3. Jane Eyre: Autonomy