How to Write a Theme Based Essay
What is a Theme Essay?
A theme based essay is an essay where you write something based on a theme which can be derived from a novel, drama, short story, song, poem or any other literary object that has some form, or plot and story in it. The first part in writing a theme based essay is to identify the theme(s) in the literary piece of work you are thinking writing about. Without properly identifying suitable and appropriate themes, you won’t be able to write a good theme based essay. So, the first and foremost step in writing a theme based essay starts with identifying the underlying themes that you have read in your literature work.
To begin with, a theme can be as simple as the moral of a fable. However, themes just don’t stop with the moral of the story alone. They lie deep within the piece of literature and need to be unearthed, as they are never presented in a direct form. They need to be extracted from the characters, their actions, the settings, the plot and everything else that is present in the novel, story, drama or any other piece of literature. Finding the right essay theme for the theme based essay is one of the major pre-requisites for writing a theme based essay and students are urged not to overlook this part as incorrect or wrong theme can weaken the essay.
The first step in finding the theme of a literary object such as a short story or a novel is by looking at its title.
Theme Essay Example #1
For example, if we take the novel ‘Blood Wedding’ by Federico García Lorca, we will see that it evokes a feeling of bloodshed and violence in us by just reading its title! The novel has such a plot that it is replete with violence and bloodshed from the beginning till the end. Even the second phrase of the novel’s title looks like there is an element of wedding and marriage in the novel and is true to a great extent, as there is a vivid depiction of wedding between a prospective bride and bridegroom. In the midst of the wedding ceremony, there is a sea of violence and bloodshed and hence the title ‘Blood Wedding’. So, by looking at the title of the novel itself, we come to know that the prevalent themes in the novel would be both violence and wedding as they are reflected in the title itself.
Theme Essay Example #2
Similarly, if we take a look at the novel ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, we will find that the title of this novel also presents a picture of death and violence just like the previous novel, which was mentioned above in this passage. The title also reveals that there is some amount of foreshadowing in the story or plot narration and we can get a hint here that the underlying theme in this novel is going to be composed at least of death, violence and foreshadowing. If you read this novel, you will find that the author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, has written the novel in such a way that the underlying theme is basically based on these three elements, i.e., death, violence and foreshadowing.
Theme Essay Example #3
Even if we take the novel ‘The House of the Spirits’ (also known as ‘La Casa de los EspÃritus’ in the original Spanish version), we will find that the title reveals a lot about the underlying theme present in the novel. Spirits can mean ghosts, demons, and angels – anything that is not physical in nature but appearing as supernatural or occult. The House of the Spirits is true to its title as there are plenty of ‘spirits’, ‘ghosts’ and supernatural forces that encircle the house of the main protagonist. Since a house holds a family, there is also a lot of talk about family members in the novel. So, the novel essentially consists of themes that are related to the spirits, family members and houses.
So, we can see that the first and foremost step in writing a theme based essay is to identify the main theme or themes from the title itself. However, just depending upon the title of the literary work is simply not enough for identifying the main themes in the novel or story. You must also read the entire novel/story right from the start till the end a number of times as to acquaint yourself thoroughly about the underlying themes present in it. The following steps will help you in identifying the underlying themes in a better way for your theme based essay:
- Notice the patterns and symbols in the story. Does it appear to be repeating itself regularly? For example, in the novel ‘Blood Wedding’, there is a lot of repetition and stress on blood and wedding. This indicates that these two form the main themes in the novel. If you follow the main patterns and symbols, you will get a better idea of the main themes present in the novel or story, which in turn will make it easier for you to write the theme based essay.
- Notice the allusions that are made in the novel or story. Allusion is a literary technique which is used by writers to make indirect or implicit references to something in their story or novel. If you can identify the allusions, you will also be able to identify the themes in the novel/story.
- Emotions, ideas and other forms of abstract things also form the theme of a literary piece such as novels or short stories. For example, in the novel ‘Blood Wedding’, there is a lot of talk about murder, bloodshed, violence and all these form the core theme of the novel. So, basically, the theme can be found at the deeper level, i.e., at the intellectual or emotional level, which makes it a bit abstract but still identifiable at the surface level.
Once you have identified the theme, you can start writing your actual essay. The steps in writing a theme based essay are:
- Identify the character or character(s) that you are going to mention in your essay. These must relate to the theme you have identified and chosen for your theme based essay. For example, if you have chosen violence as the main theme in the novel ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’, you must write mainly on the characters that take part in violence or are sufferers/witnesses to violence in the novel. For example, you can write how Santiago Nasar was killed violently by the Vicario brothers. How violence is visible from the early part of the novel, how the guns and knives are depicted as violent tools in the plot, etc.
- Maintain the chosen theme by highlighting it throughout your essay. For example, if you have taken violence as the theme from the novel ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’, write on everything that contains violence or refers to violence in the novel. It doesn’t necessarily have to be based on blood bath, gore or macabre, but can include small incidents of violence like underlying tensions, fits, outrage, outbursts, emotional extremes, etc. The point is that you should try to remain as close to the underlying theme that you are writing in your theme based essay as possible by highlighting incidents and situations from the background source, which could be a novel, story, drama or any other literary piece. For example, here, the source referred is from the novel ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’.
- Do not try to mix the main theme with the main subject of the novel/story. Many students assume that the theme and plot/story/subject are the same things and try to write on the story or plot. However, a theme is not the plot or story but is actually an idea, which binds the story or plot in a tight fashion. It is more like a message or the main idea(s) that the writer wants to convey to the readers/audience.
- Start with a brief background of the underlying theme(s) that you have identified in the source matter and mention that in the introduction part of the essay. For example, if you have chosen violence as the main theme from the novel ‘Blood Wedding’, you could start writing in the following way: “The novel Blood Wedding, written by Federico García Lorca, depicts violence in such a way that even the modern reader of today’s times is intrigued by it. One of the main female characters in the novel, La Novia, causes a number of violent murders in the play. The theme of violence can be felt in the first Act itself when El Novio’s mother responds violently and in a bizarre manner when El Novio asks her for a knife - “Knives, knives…Curse them all.” (Lorca, 5) The reaction of El Novio’s mother shows how much fear she has for knives and other similar sharp objects. El Novio’s father was killed in a ghastly manner when his assailants inflicted multiple stabs on his chest and stomach. Due to the violent murder of her husband, El Novio’s mother is in a state of shock and apprehends violence when she hears about the knife.”
- Keep your thoughts well organised and relate the themes closely knitted throughout the main body in your theme based essay. The body should relate only to the main theme but can also refer to other characters, plot, incidents and events that happen in the source matter.
- After you have presented all the incidents and events related to the main theme, you can summarise the effect of the theme on the character(s) or the plot/story and how it affects the novel/story/drama. This way the conclusion would be solid and effective too.
How to Write a Theme Based Essay
Frequently Asked Questions About Writing a Theme Based Essay
What is the difference between a theme essay and a research paper?
A theme based essay is one in which you are required to write on a theme stemming from a source such as a story, book, drama, song or poem. A research paper, on the other hand, is an argument you make or analysis of your perspective on a topic that is supported by relevant information from a variety of sources. While both require analysis of the topic or theme, the research paper is a specific type of paper that it expands on an essay by requiring you to choose a standpoint and make an argument for it.
What is a good topic sentence for a theme paper?
A good topic sentence for a theme paper is one that outlines the general idea of the essay in the first sentence of the paragraph. It is an introduction to the essay and allows the reader to know what to expect when they read through the piece.
What is a good hook for a theme essay?
A good hook sentence is meant to grab your reader’s attention. It must speak directly to your reader, be well-crafted with the right, carefully chosen words and should be consistent with your style of writing. These can take the form of a well-known anecdote, a thought-provoking question, a quote or a fact/statistics. Regardless of your choice, it must serve the purpose of grabbing the attention of your readers.
How to write an introduction paragraph for a theme analysis essay?
The first step in writing an introduction for a theme analysis essay is reading and understanding the theme behind the piece to be written about. Once you’ve found your theme, you will want to state what the general theme is and create a thesis statement. The thesis statement will then be used to explain what your theme paper will be about. When you review the piece to be written about, it is best to take thorough notes on the main points of interest so that you can explain and expound on them in your essay. Starting a theme essay with a good hook will help you to capture your readers’ attention. From there, you can follow through with your thesis statement and introduction of your main ideas.
How to write a thesis for a theme essay?
The thesis statement is written in the introductory paragraph of your essay. It explains the focal point of your piece and must be linked to the theme of the essay. The rest of your essay will be written to support the thesis statement.
How to write a theme essay of a book?
The theme is the overarching idea of the piece you are writing about. In order to write the theme you must read and understand the piece; this includes the tone, characters, scenes, etc. of the piece. Making notes of similar concepts within the piece will help you to identify and state the theme.
How do I explore a certain theme in a literature essay?
When exploring the theme in a literature essay, you need to review all aspects of the piece you are wiring about, including the characters, setting, plot, scenes, language, dialogue, etc. Identify commonalities within the piece that will aid you in drafting a theme that the reader will understand and get the gist of the essay.
How to write a conclusion for a theme essay?
The conclusion should be a summary of the main points stated in your theme paper expressed in a concise and direct manner. In it, you should paraphrase your thesis statement, restate the theme, remind the audience of the main points and have a closing sentence that provides closure to your piece while still being memorable. Remember, the conclusion must be the tie that brings together your entire essay.
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