对于不少本科生，甚至研究生来说，这是个常常会“take for granted”的话题——好像知道，可真要细究起来，又说不清楚。了解以下几点有助于加深对主题的理解，尤其有助于自己写论文时，提炼概括出自己论文的“Theses Statement”:
- A theme is the controlling idea or central insight. It can be
1). a revelation of human character;
2). may be stated briefly or at great length; and
3). a theme is not the “moral” of the story.
- A theme must be expressible in the form of a statement – not “motherhood” but “Motherhood sometimes has more frustration than reward.“
- A theme must be stated as a generalization about life; names of characters or specific situations in the plot are not to be used when stating a theme.
- A theme must not be a generalization larger than is justified by the terms of the story.
- A theme is the central and unifying concept of the story. It must adhere to the following requirements:
1). It must account for all the major details of the story.
2). It must not be contradicted by any detail of the story.
3). It must not rely on supposed facts – facts not actually stated or clearly implied by the story.
- There is no one way of stating the theme of a story.
- Any statement that reduces a theme to some familiar saying, aphorism, or cliché should be avoided. Do not use “A stitch in time saves nine,” “You can’t judge a book by its cover, ” “Fish and guests smell in three days,” and so on.