Themes are just the book’s main messages. What point is the author trying to make? And what scenes, characters, plot decisions, and so on, does he or she use to make that point?
The scariest thing about themes—at least for most readers—is figuring out what they are. No need to freak out. Authors really, really want you to understand what it is they’re trying to say. So one way of uncovering a book’s themes is to look for patterns and repetition.
Remember: If an author makes a point over and over again, that’s probably a theme. A theme is a story’s main message.
For example: In Of Mice and Men, author John Steinbeck presents multiple characters with dreams—all of which end up thwarted. Halfway through this book of disappointed dreamers, it’s pretty clear that Steinbeck is pointing out the futility of the American dream.
See that? You found a pattern and identified a theme.
Here’s another example: In Great Expectations, author Charles Dickens constantly makes fun of the upper classes. Main character Pip is so desperate to be a gentleman, yet the “gentle-men” that Dickens portrays are anything but. By the time you fin-ish this book, you’ll have had a good laugh at the expense of the rich characters.
Thanks to repetition, you’ll also have identified one of Dickens’ themes: Class isn’t important, but good character is.
The Step-by-Step Guide to Hacking Your Next Essay Assignment
How to Write an A+ Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Acing Your Next Assignment is just that: a step-by-step guide through the process of writing your best essay yet.
In the Step-by-Step Guide, you'll not only learn techniques the author used to earn her straight-A average through high school and college, but techniques she has tested and refined while coaching individual students, one-on-one, through the essay-writing process. Like these:
- How to supercharge the process by "thinking like a prosecutor."
- How to organize your research "on-the-fly" so your essay almost writes itself.
- How to zero in on the most effective thesis statement in the least amount of time.
- How to use the strategies of a criminal trial to speed you through your essay assignment, from outline, to draft, to done.
Read the introduction here.
Find the complete eight video guide to literary terms here.
Also at Recap Resource:
Get a Thesis Statement
Get an Ending
Make it Sing!
Thesis Statements: Four Steps
Pick your topic
Focus your presentation
Write your script
Choose your props
Create your graphics
What to do once you're done