About “Theme”

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.

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