A story’s theme, defined as an underlying concept that “says” something about society, is woven throughout the plot and its elements. A character(s) actions, interactions, and motivations will reflect the story’s theme. A longer story may have a central theme, but may also incorporate other themes.

The plot and moral lesson of a story should not be confused with the theme. The plot is a sequential sequence of events that tells the story, while a moral is the lesson the author wishes the reader to take from the story. Both may elude to the theme as the events taking place should illustrate the theme and the moral should reflect the theme.

Universal Themes are the most common themes and resonate throughout society. There is a recurrence of the plot throughout races, genders, and all walks of life. Common universal themes include:

  • Love
  • War
  • Peace
  • Crime
  • Nostolgia
  • Conflict between individual & society
  • Humans in conflict with technology
  • Dangers of unchecked ambition

Two trains of thought exist:

  • Leitworstil method
    • means “leading word style” in German
    • repeated phases to catch the attention of the reader
  • Thematic Patterning
    • insertion of a recurring motif in a narrative

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