30 Theme

The theme is the main idea, lesson or message in the novel. It usually states an idea about humans, society or life.

You will often be asked to analyze how the theme is expressed. Study the novel to check if any elements are repeated that may suggest a theme. Is there more than one theme? In the Harry Potter stories there may be many themes. One of the most important must be the value of being modest. Harry does not boast, he is humble, loyal and good. That is why he succeeds in the end. This is the lesson that Rowling wants to pass on to us. We are clearly shown what happens to the characters that are selfish and mean.

  • The theme is the main idea in the story.
  • The message is the lesson the author wants to teach us.

Theme can also be expressed as

  • the underlying meaning of a literary work, a general truth about life or mankind.

A theme is the general subject the story revolves around. It often represents universal and timeless ideas that are relevant in most people’s lives.

Even though a novel may have an action-packed story, the underlying theme may be to stick to your friends and be loyal – as in Harry Potter.



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Introduction to Literature Copyright © by William Stewart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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