The theme of a story/novel is its central idea, pulse or the message that the author wants to convey to the reader. Books can have multiple themes.
For example, the entire Harry Potter series explore the theme of good versus evil. We root for the good wizards like Harry, Dumbledore, Hermione, Ron, Mr. Weasley etc while they fight the dark wizards led by Lord Voldemort. It also has the theme of Love. Love is proclaimed as the most powerful magic which even the darkest magic can’t defeat. Harry is alive only because his mother’s love protects him from harm. She sacrificed her own life to protect him.
The following quote explains this theme of love:
“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.”
~ excerpt from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
What are some of the common themes explored in fiction writing?
Most books will have a central theme around which the entire story revolves. Let us check some examples.
- Ambition: In ‘Macbeth’ Shakespeare tells the tale of the unbridled ambition of Macbeth to become the King which eventually leads to his downfall.
- Betrayal: The central theme of ‘The Invisible Man’ by HG Wells is the betrayal by the people and ideals that the protagonist trusts.
- Coming of age: Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ is a coming of age novel along with being a book that deals with racism and atrocities suffered by minorities. It sensitively portrays the life of a young boy who grows up during difficult times through shocking yet realistic events.
- Courage: ‘Hunger Games’ by Susan Collins
- Deception: ‘Much ado about Nothing’ by Shakespeare is based upon planned deceptions, both malevolent and benign.
- Discovery: ‘The Tempest’ by Shakespeare. After the characters get lost on the island, they discover many truths.
- Escape: In ‘The Glass Menagerie’ by Tennessee Williams the theme of escape is used to drive the play forward. The characters are driven by the hope that escape is possible.
- Death: ‘Hamlet’ by Shakespeare.
- Fear: The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- Friendship: Harry Poter Series has friendship as one of the strongest themes that drive the story forward.
- Good versus evil: Harry Potter Series
- Isolation: Robinson Crusoe
- Jealousy: Othello by Shakespeare
- Love conquers all: The Notebook by Nicholas Spark
- Lust and Love: The Great Gatsby by F. Scot Fitzgerald
- Power: The Godfather by Mario Puzo
- Prejudice: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Prodigal Son/Daughter: Prodigal Daughter by Jeffrey Archer
- Spirituality: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
- Survival: The Hunger Games