A theme is, quite simply, a reoccurring idea that the author discusses in an essay, short story,novel or poem. Because a theme is reoccurring, when your teacher or professor asks you to explore a theme in a novel, you should have plenty of examples. Avoid choosing something very specific where it may have only occurred once.
Along with being reoccurring, themes are generally broad. For example, a book about war will probably discuss the effects of violence or, simply, violence.
Many things other than books have themes and correspond to theme in literature; for example, parties often have themes (aliens, hip-hops stars, circus, western). If there is a western theme, you of course would find people wearing cowboy boots, cowboy hats, revolvers, spurs, chewing tobacco, etc.
Unfortunately, themes in literature aren’t like being invited to a themed party. The theme is never laid out in front of you,”This book will be about violence.”
Reading a novel is more like being invited to a theme party but without knowing what the theme will be. However, you have all the evidence in front of you: cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and spurs.
Lets try an example shall we?
The main character of a story is nervous about going to a party. His best friend is not as shy and asks this girl on a date to the party,leaving our main character to go by himself. Although the girl he likes is going, she doesn’t have a date and is waiting to be asked. Finally, the party comes and the girl confronts our main character on why he is alone. He replies that he was too frightened to ask the girl he wanted to ask. The girl tells our main character that he should have more confidence and ask. He finally musters up the courage and asks her to go out with him. She declines, having already accepted an offer from his best friend.
So what themes are in this example?
Betrayal– the best friend asks out his best friend’s interest.
Confidence/shyness – Our main character lost out because he was not confident.
Destroying Friendship – main character’s friend destroys the friendship by taking the girl.