A subject or subject matter is a topic which acts as a foundation for a literary work. It is the subject which makes a writer writes something, or what something is about. Subject is also the inspiration that makes you write anything, or something that is being written about, discussed, or shown. Simply, it is what a work refers to.
This is the central idea in a literary work. It refers to the suggestions the story makes about the life that it depicts. A theme is what the author is trying to convey or reveal in relation to the subject of the story. In other words, themes are insights of life that the story exposes to the reader. Short stories have one or few themes while novellas and novels have many. To find the theme in the story, we must ask the question: What is the purpose of the story and what is it all about? You can also check how much an idea is repeated in the story.
In few words, a theme can be explained as:
- a central/ main idea of the story.
- an opinion expressed on the subject.
- what a writer is saying about a certain subject.
- writer’s opinion or perspective about a certain issue in society.
- a controlling idea which is continuously developed throughout the story.
- a central and unifying concept of a story.
- a main or an underlying meaning of a literary work.
Minor theme: It is an idea that appears in a story briefly or an idea that appears once in a while in a story. It is less important and may appear for a part of the narrative to be replaced by another. It doesn’t cover the whole story.
Major theme: It refers to an idea that a writer repeats in his/her work making it the most significant idea in a literary work. The whole literary work revolves around it.
Examples of themes may include compassion, courage, friendship, love, good vs bad, honesty, loyalty, loneliness, grief, perseverance, benefits of hardworking, importance of family…
This is the lesson that the author hopes the reader will get after reading a literary work.
In few words, a message can be explained as:
- a lesson the writer wishes to convey to the society through his/her story.
- what an author wants the society to learn from his/her literary work.
- a kind of a lesson that the reader learns after reading the story.
- a moral in the story.
- something the story aims to teach the reader.
- a lesson the writer wishes the society to learn from his/her poem.
Messages can be about respecting elders, not fighting, caring for your loved ones, cooperating …
Types of themes and messages
The two types of themes and messages are: implicit/implied and explicit.
Implicit themes or messages are the ones which are hidden. They are implied or communicated indirectly or suggested. To get them, the reader has to use his/her intelligence and analysis. They are also called hidden messages/ themes.
These are the themes or messages which are stated or communicated directly or clearly. The reader does not have to analyze the story to find them. They are fully and clearly expressed leaving nothing implied. They are also called fully stated messages/themes.