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An Essay about Theme Analysis

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                               Writing an Essay Analyzing Theme
                               English Writing Center Workshop


       The theme is the major idea the author is trying to “get across.” An example of a theme
statement would be the following one adapted from Roberts’ Writing Themes About Literature:
In Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path,” Phoenix Jackson shows that human beings who are
committed to care and nurture will suffer for this commitment (79).

        Remember that there may be various themes in any one piece of literature. The following
are mechanisms by which a theme may be revealed: direct statements of the author, direct
statements by the characters, dramatic statements by characters, imagery, characters representing
ideas, and the entire work representing ideas (62).

       The introduction will contain the thesis sentence which will state your ideas of the theme
and the particular “parts or aspects” (84) of the work that you will analyze.

        The body of the essay will center around “your objective, which is (1) to define the idea,
and (2) show its importance in the work” (84). The following are some areas for consideration:

       1. THE FORM OF THE WORK AS A PLAN, SCHEME, OR LOGICAL FORMAT
          Example: “The idea makes for a two-part work, the first showing religion
          as punishment, and the second showing religion as kindness and reward.”

       2. A SPEECH OR SPEECHES
          Example: “The priest’s conversation and responses to Jackie show in
          operation the idea that kindness and understanding are the best means to
          encourage religious commitment.”

       3. A CHARACTER OR CHARACTERS
          Example: “Eliot’s Prufrock is an embodiment of the idea that human beings in the
          twentieth century have been deprived of their identity and importance.”

       4. AN ACTION OR ACTIONS
          Example: “The pursuit by the outlaws and the rescue by the rural police
          indicate Crane’s optimistic idea that, on balance, the world furnishes protection and
          justice despite great danger” (84).

The conclusion will center around your thoughts—the effectiveness and importance of the
theme.
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       The following is an outline adapted from the sample theme, “The Idea of the Strength of
Love in Chekhov’s The Bear.”

Thesis: An important theme in The Bear is that love and desire are powerful enough to
overcome the strongest obstacles such as commitment to the dead, renunciation of womankind,
and anger.

 I. Introduction

 II. Commitment to the dead

III. Renunciation of womankind

IV. Anger

 V. Conclusion

Source: Writing Themes About Literature by Edgar V. Roberts

				
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