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Theme, Symbol & Irony

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

Stephanie Fillion

on 3 September 2011

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Transcript of Theme, Symbol & Irony

Theme, Symbol, & Irony
Theme
Definition: The dominant idea that an author is trying to convey in a work of literature; a common thread or repeated idea
Symbol
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)
Irony
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 related to an abstract idea—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.
-Once you have identified that common idea,
ask yourself, “What is this story saying about
the idea of courage?”
Theme Examples:

•In Divergent, a theme might be loss of innocence/coming of age. More specifically, the novel/film might be trying to show that loss of innocence is necessary in order for a person to finally see the world for what it truly is and for them to have a meaningful impact on that world.
Examples:
-In Divergent, Tris cutting her hair is symbolic of her rebellion, her internal transformation, and her loss of innocence.
-In The Hunger Games, the mockingjay is a symbol of hope and unity for the Districts.
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
Consider what the following things could symbolize:
-Four seasons
-Water
-Ring
-Fire
-Knife
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