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Common Themes in Literature

Author: Laura Kniffin


A theme is the main idea, or message, of an essay, paragraph, or a book. The message may be about life, society, or human nature. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas and may be implied rather than stated explicitly.

The thematic patterning is the distribution of recurrent thematic concepts and moralisticĀ motifs among the various incidents and frames of a story.

Authors often have common themes within several different stories they have written. For example, in Shakespeare's plays he commonly uses the themes of love, revenge, and "the great battle."

Common Themes in Literature

Common Themes Examples

This is a video displaying examples of each common theme of literature. The examples are popular movies that will hopefully help you better understand what each common theme truly is!

With this help...

You should now be able to use this slide show as a guide to finding common themes within the books you are reading.

As you read, try to pull out the common themes in the book, and compare it to other novels you have read by that author.

Do they have the same common themes? Why would this author do that?

Many authors use themes based on their life story, or the era in which they lived.

Examine the authors biography. Does it make more sense why they chose those themes?