Themes and Ideas - Shawon Notes

English Language > Extended Reading > Themes and Ideas


Identifying contrasts

When you discuss a theme in your text, remember to look beyond the simple themes of love, hate, family, relationships, power, nature and society by working out what clash of opposites is at the heart of that subject. For example:

  • conflict - us versus them, friends versus foes, the state versus the citizen
  • family - feelings of safety versus desire for independence
  • love - desire for something forbidden
  • power - the individual versus the state, man versus nature
  • place - an idea of paradise versus reality, the idea of home versus exile
  • nature - the separation of man from nature or natural beauty versus violence

Tip: an interesting theme is always a clash of opposites because single ideas are simply not interesting. Love on its own is not a theme. Without something trying to stop love, it has nowhere to go. If two people met and fell in love and there were no problems, then it would not be a very interesting story.

The discussion of the opposite sides of your theme will give structure and energy to your essay.

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