A theme is a central or underlying idea in literature. The writer may express insight about humanity or a world view. Before you attempt to identify the theme of a work, you must have first read the work, and you should understand at least the basics about the plot, characterizations, and other literary elements. Here's how to identify the theme of a work of literature.
Time Required: Varies
- What happened?
Take a few moments to write down the the main literary elements: plot, characterization, etc. What were the conflicts in the work? What was the most important moment in the work? Does the author resolve the conflict? How did the work end?
- What is the subject?
If you were to tell a friend what the work of literature was "about," how would you describe it? What is the topic?
- What about the protagonist (the main character)?
How does he/she change? Does the protagonist affect other characters? How does this character relate to others?