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Copy of Theme, Symbol & Irony

Introduction to the literary devices of theme, symbol, and irony with definitions and examples

Stephanie Fillion

on 10 September 2018

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Transcript of Copy of Theme, Symbol & Irony

Theme, Symbol, & Irony
Definition: The dominant idea that an author is trying to convey in a work of literature; a common thread or repeated idea
a concrete object that represents an abstract idea
Concrete--can be touched or seen
(ex. chair, eye, money, etc.)
Abstract--cannot be touched or seen
(ex. freedom, joy, greed, friendship)
What theme is NOT!
Theme is NOT a cliche or a "moral of the story".
For example, "Don't judge a book by its cover" or "The grass is always greener on the other side" are NOT themes!
So, what IS a theme?
Generally, a theme is an abstract idea that the work is trying to convey—courage, hope, everlasting love, the downfall of greed, etc. However, in a broader sense, there is usually a larger statement being made about that idea.
Theme Examples:

•In "The First Day", a theme could be loss of innocence as the narrator realizes for the first time that her mother is unable to read. The theme statement could be: Once innocence is lost, it can never be recaptured. You could use evidence from the text to support that statement.

Some other common themes include: illusion vs. reality, morality, love, deception, coming of age, etc.

•In "The First Day" a symbol might be the school. It represents a better life for the daughter; hope for the future; education and literacy; a separation between mother and daughter
Verbal Irony
irony results when the outcome is different than the intended or expected meaning
disparity of expression and intention. You mean one thing but say another.
Example A: When my sister wakes up in the morning and I say, “Nice hair."
Example B: When I'm eating mocha truffle cheesecake and I say, "Well, at least it's low fat!"
Dramatic Irony
disparity of expression and awareness. When a character says or does something that has a different meaning for the audience because they know something that the main character does not. Often used for humour or suspense.
Situational Irony
disparity of intention and result. When the end result is different than the expected effect.
a. Ronald Reagan’s attempted assassination.
b. Motorcyclist dying while “protesting” the law that would have forced him to wear a helmet (which would have saved his life!)
Symbolism Activity:
Consider the following objects and tell
what they could symbolize.
-a ring
-a house
-a pen
In order to come up with a strong theme statement, ask yourself the following questions:
-what does ____________ lead to?
-what causes ____________?
-which is better? __________ or __________?
-what happens when __________ is lost?
-what is the author trying to say about __________?
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