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Class Notes from Literature Textbook

Sharon Coyle

on 2 March 2014

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Transcript of Themes

Class-Generated Notes from Textbook
Themes in Literature
Make notes on each of the sections assigned from the textbook.
copy and paste as needed and take advantage of an infinite canvas!
Themes in Poetry
page 566

Themes in Fiction
page 350
Interpreting and Evaluating Literature
page 9
Themes: page 5
Themes in Drama
page 1335
interpret = look at possible meanings
Not just
one way
of looking at it!
reading is interactive,
like a conversation
between the reader and the work
conveys attitudes of the writer
literary conventions
"Your best strategy is to open yourself up
to the text's possibilities and
explore the full range of your responses" (11)
But don't ignore the evidence in the text!
• The title of a story
• A narrator’s or character’s statement
• The arrangement of events in a story
• A story’s conflict
• The point of view of a story
• The symbols
• Changes in a character

• The title of a story
• A narrator’s or character’s statement
• The arrangement of events in a story
• A story’s conflict
• The point of view of a story
• The symbols
• Changes in a character

Drama is one of the things that makes possible a solution to the problem of socializing people.
When we speak about dramatic significance we`re really talking about, either openly or unknowingly, about the dilemma of living together, of living together, or living a social existence. (Arthur Miller, "The Playwrights Speak")
A theme is the dominant idea of a work.
It conveys the values and ideas expressed in the story.
There can be more than one theme in a story.
Themes can be found through the story itself
and it can also be found in the ideas you make from reading the story.

Checklist: Writing About Themes

• What is the central theme of the story?

• What other themes can you identify?

• Does the title of story suggest a theme?

• Does the narrator, or any character, make statements that express or imply a theme?

• In what way does the arrangement of events in the story suggest a theme?

• How does the point of view shed light on the story’s central theme?

• Do any symbols suggest a theme?

• Do any characters in the story change in any significant way? Do their changes convey a particular theme?

• Have you clearly identified the story’s central theme, rather than just summarized the plot or stated the subject?

Ideas emerge from plays-not the other way around...I think explanation destroys (a play) and makes it less than it is. (Sam Shepard, "Fool for Love and Other Plays")
-The theme of a work of fiction in contemporary
critical theory is as much the creation of readers
as of the writer.
-The readers backgrounds is knowledge, values, and
-Express a conventional initiation theme
-Different readers bring different perspectives to
the story and in some cases see different themes
-However, ones interpretation of a theme must make
sense in light and show evidence of what is actually
going on in the story

• One theme can dominate a literary work, but it can contain many different themes.
• Ex: Apprenticeship of buddy Kravitz:
- Main theme: the importance of moral and ethical considerations in the attainment of one’s goals and ambitions
- Other themes: anti-Smitism, dissolution of the traditional family structure.

Frequently used themes
- A character’s loss of innocence
- The conflict between an individual’s values and the values of society
-The individual’s quest for spiritual enlightenment
- The carpe diem(“seize the day”) theme
- The making of the artist
- Nostalgia for a vanished past
- The disillusionment of adulthood
- The pain of love
- The struggle of woman for equality
- The conflict between parents and children
- The clash between human beings and machines
-The tension between the ideal and the actual realms of experience

• “A culture’s history, a particular region’s geography or a country’s social structure can suggest unique ways of developing conventional themes.”(Page 6)
• Canadian literature themes :

 The loss of innocence

 Rites of passage

 Childhood epiphanies

 The ability (or inability) to form relationships

 the struggle to survive in an inhospitable environment

 …

Some writers of color can choose to express their own experience:

 Ex: “The theme of loss on innocence may be presented as a first encounter with racial prejudice." (Page 6)

• Interesting to treat conventional themes in new ways:

 1984 by George Orwell

Due to the author's point of view toward a certain subject,
a poetry theme may be understood as a subject that is being examined from different aspects.
For example:
the theme of death is perceived differently from author to author,
some speak about the human being not being able to accept the the death of love ones,
others are are focusing on death as an inevitable process, a natural process that we should all accept.
"Each poem uses a particular tone to give more expression to the central idea treated within."
(edited by Sharon!)
Na, Emmie, Melissa
Stefan, Marius
Full transcript