Understanding Theme - Free Educational videos for Students in K-12 | Lumos Learning

Understanding Theme - Free Educational videos for Students in k-12

Understanding Theme - By xtremewriting

00:07 understanding theme is one of the most difficult challenges of
00:11 studying literature . Because there are some common misconceptions about
00:15 what theme is . Let's first look at what it's
00:19 not . Some people confuse theme with the subject or
00:24 topic of the story , while the theme will likely
00:28 be about the subject of the story . What the
00:31 story is about is not the theme itself . Some
00:39 people also confuse theme with a motif , which in
00:41 turn is also often thought to be the subject of
00:44 the story . This is not the case , however
00:47 . Motifs will typically be related in some way to
00:50 the subject of the story , as well as to
00:52 the theme someone might say the theme of literary works
00:57 such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas , Requiem
00:59 for a Dream , Train Spotting or The Basketball Diaries
01:03 is drugs . But the recurrence of drug references and
01:07 imagery makes drugs a motif in these works , not
01:11 a theme , even if drugs happen to be the
01:13 primary subject matter . While the theme could very well
01:17 have to do with drugs , the drugs themselves exist
01:21 as a motif . Simply motif refers to the recurrence
01:27 of images , patterns or ideas throughout a literary work
01:31 that relate to the theme . Therefore , while motifs
01:34 are usually closely related to the theme of a literary
01:37 work , Ah motif is not a theme . I
01:41 will return to the concept of motifs later when I
01:43 explain how to go about finding the theme of a
01:46 literary work . Theme is also often confused with the
01:51 moral of a story . Many stories do in fact
01:54 culminate with a moral love conquers all do unto others
01:58 as you would have them do unto you . In
02:01 the popular fable The Tortoise and the Hare , we
02:03 learned through the story that slow and steady wins the
02:06 race and in a wolf in sheep's clothing , we
02:09 learn that appearances can be deceiving . As illustrated by
02:13 these examples , morals are often cliche and make a
02:18 black and white distinction between good and bad , right
02:21 and wrong . They're also often explicitly stated in the
02:25 stories conclusion . Artistic or literary works express much more
02:30 complex ideas about their central subjects . That is ,
02:35 they express a theme rather than a simple moral lesson
02:40 . Themes usually exist within the gray area of perceptions
02:44 and beliefs about human experience or behavior , and express
02:48 highly complex ideas that can that can't be reduced to
02:52 simple solutions . If theme is not the subject ,
03:01 a motif or immoral , then what is it ?
03:06 Simply stated , Theme is the central idea or unifying
03:09 concern of a literary work or , in other words
03:15 , the point the author is trying to make .
03:19 From this definition , you can see how people sometimes
03:21 confuse theme with motifs and morals . Since the motif
03:24 is often expressed as a topic , drugs , love
03:27 , violence , etcetera and morals can convey a unifying
03:32 concern of a story . Authors don't necessarily have to
03:36 be consciously aware of a theme when they produce a
03:39 story , but one is always present . Unlike fables
03:42 and fairytales , works like George Orwell's 1984 or Hunter
03:47 Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas , Toni Morrison's
03:49 Beloved or one of Shakespeare's plays are intended to a
03:53 affect their readers opinions regarding the issues they write about
03:57 . In contrast , popular works like Stephenie Meyer's Twilight
04:02 or the entire genre of romance novels , for that
04:04 matter , which are created primarily to entertain their audience
04:08 , are more likely tohave an intentional moral like love
04:11 conquers all . But intentional or not , author's beliefs
04:15 about the world are still reflected in their writing .
04:19 The idea or opinion the piece of literature conveys about
04:22 whatever subject or issue is central to the narrative would
04:25 still be the story's theme . To sum it up
04:32 , theme is the unifying idea that ties all other
04:35 aspects of the literary work together . It is a
04:39 complex perception regarding human experience or behavior , and it
04:45 is almost always implied . That is , it is
04:49 not stated directly . We , the consumers of literature
04:54 , must work to discover it . Determining theme is
04:57 like solving a mystery . We must analyze all the
05:00 clues the author leaves us in order to figure out
05:04 what it all means . These clues come in the
05:07 form of the literary devices the author uses to build
05:10 the story , such as plot setting , characterization and
05:14 many others . Let's look at the idea of theme
05:20 from another perspective . If you are familiar with the
05:23 concept of a thesis statement and other forms of writing
05:27 , it may be helpful to think of theme in
05:29 these terms . Ah , thesis presents some complex argument
05:33 or opinion about a subject usually expressed in a single
05:37 sentence . Themes are very similar in nature to thesis
05:41 statements , except that theme is typically more implicit and
05:45 thesis generally more explicit . for other people , it
05:51 may be helpful to conceptualize theme as a math equation
05:55 . The primary subject of the literary work , plus
05:58 the authors attitude or belief the author expresses about that
06:02 subject is the theme . At this point , you
06:08 might be thinking that's all well and good . I
06:10 think I understand what a theme is . But how
06:13 would I go about trying to find the theme of
06:15 a literary work , much less express it to someone
06:18 else ? This three step guide should help step one
06:24 , identify the central idea or subject . This may
06:29 be difficult at first , so make a list of
06:31 all the possibilities . Start with the most prominent motifs
06:36 . The title is also a good place to look
06:38 for clues . You'll always be starting from the best
06:41 guess . But examining the title and prominent motifs allows
06:45 you to make an educated guess instead of a random
06:48 one . It's okay to start with several guesses .
06:51 This can also eliminate some work later . If your
06:54 first attempt at stating the theme is wrong , Step
07:00 two Articulate the point or message the literary work presents
07:05 about the subject move beyond the subject itself to the
07:10 beliefs or opinions . The literary work seems to present
07:13 about that subject . Articulate as many beliefs as you
07:17 think of as legitimate possibilities for each of the major
07:20 ideas presented in the work that you identified and Step
07:23 one , then work each subject and belief into an
07:27 idea expressed in a complete sentence . Step three .
07:36 Determine which statements air supported by all elements of the
07:40 literary work that is , test your statement of the
07:43 theme against the novel as a whole as well as
07:46 its individual parts . This step requires in depth analysis
07:50 of all components of the literary work , for example
07:54 , plot setting motifs , symbolism , character development ,
07:58 illusions , etcetera . We must look not on Lee
08:02 at superficial meanings of the literary works , various components
08:06 , but also at metaphoric and symbolic meanings . If
08:10 our analysis of these individual components does not support our
08:14 statement of the theme , we must reconsider our expression
08:17 of theme in light of whatever new direction our analysis
08:20 indicates . If necessary , repeat steps one through three
08:25 until your analysis of the work supports your assessment of
08:28 its theme


You will gain an understanding of what theme is, how it differs from other literary devices with which it is often confused, and how to identify the theme of a literary work.


Understanding Theme is a free educational video by xtremewriting.It helps students in grades 4 practice the following standards RL.4.2.

This page not only allows students and teachers view Understanding Theme but also find engaging Sample Questions, Apps, Pins, Worksheets, Books related to the following topics.

1. RL.4.2 : Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text..





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