All terms

What is a Theme?

The underlying message or main idea conveyed in a piece of writing.

Uncovering Hidden Meanings: The Essential Guide to Understanding Theme in Creative Writing

Theme is one of the most important elements of creative writing, as it holds the key to understanding the deeper meaning of a text. It is the underlying message or main idea that the author wishes to convey through their work. While the plot and characters serve as the vehicle for the story, the theme provides the purpose and reason for their existence.

Themes can be expressed in a variety of ways, from a single word or phrase to a more complex idea or concept. They may be overtly stated in the text, or left for the reader to infer through a careful reading of the work. Themes can also be universal, speaking to fundamental truths about the human experience, or they can be specific to a particular time, place, or culture.

Understanding theme is essential for both reading and writing creative works. For readers, it allows them to engage with the text on a deeper level, to look beyond the surface story and uncover hidden meanings and messages. For writers, it provides a framework for their work, guiding their choices in terms of plot, character, setting, and language.

In summary, theme is the thread that ties together the various elements of a creative work, giving it purpose and meaning. By uncovering and understanding the themes in a text, readers and writers alike can gain a deeper appreciation of the power and importance of storytelling.

Theme: Finding Meaning in Literature's Message

Exploring the ways that theme can add depth and nuance to a piece of writing, through two examples drawn from literature.

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

A story about a boy in a British borstal trying to outsmart his shadowy, institutional jailors, it deals with themes such as self-determination, social injustice and personal responsibility.

The Great Gatsby

A classic novel depicting the decadence and excess of the roaring twenties, it deals with themes of desire, disillusionment, and the danger of chasing after an illusion of the past.