How To Write A Theme Essay Paragraph

How to Write a Theme Based Essay

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What is a Theme Essay?

A theme based essay is an essay where you write something based on a theme which can be derived from a novel, drama, short story, song, poem or any other literary object that has some form, or plot and story in it. The first part in writing a theme based essay is to identify the theme(s) in the literary piece of work you are thinking writing about. Without properly identifying suitable and appropriate themes, you won’t be able to write a good theme based essay. So, the first and foremost step in writing a theme based essay starts with identifying the underlying themes that you have read in your literature work.

To begin with, a theme can be as simple as the moral of a fable. However, themes just don’t stop with the moral of the story alone. They lie deep within the piece of literature and need to be unearthed, as they are never presented in a direct form. They need to be extracted from the characters, their actions, the settings, the plot and everything else that is present in the novel, story, drama or any other piece of literature. Finding the right essay theme for the theme based essay is one of the major pre-requisites for writing a theme based essay and students are urged not to overlook this part as incorrect or wrong theme can weaken the essay.

The first step in finding the theme of a literary object such as a short story or a novel is by looking at its title.

Theme Essay Example #1

For example, if we take the novel ‘Blood Wedding’ by Federico García Lorca, we will see that it evokes a feeling of bloodshed and violence in us by just reading its title! The novel has such a plot that it is replete with violence and bloodshed from the beginning till the end. Even the second phrase of the novel’s title looks like there is an element of wedding and marriage in the novel and is true to a great extent, as there is a vivid depiction of wedding between a prospective bride and bridegroom. In the midst of the wedding ceremony, there is a sea of violence and bloodshed and hence the title ‘Blood Wedding’. So, by looking at the title of the novel itself, we come to know that the prevalent themes in the novel would be both violence and wedding as they are reflected in the title itself.

Theme Essay Example #2

Similarly, if we take a look at the novel ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, we will find that the title of this novel also presents a picture of death and violence just like the previous novel, which was mentioned above in this passage. The title also reveals that there is some amount of foreshadowing in the story or plot narration and we can get a hint here that the underlying theme in this novel is going to be composed at least of death, violence and foreshadowing. If you read this novel, you will find that the author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, has written the novel in such a way that the underlying theme is basically based on these three elements, i.e., death, violence and foreshadowing.

Theme Essay Example #3

Even if we take the novel ‘The House of the Spirits’ (also known as ‘La Casa de los EspÃritus’ in the original Spanish version), we will find that the title reveals a lot about the underlying theme present in the novel. Spirits can mean ghosts, demons, and angels – anything that is not physical in nature but appearing as supernatural or occult. The House of the Spirits is true to its title as there are plenty of ‘spirits’, ‘ghosts’ and supernatural forces that encircle the house of the main protagonist. Since a house holds a family, there is also a lot of talk about family members in the novel. So, the novel essentially consists of themes that are related to the spirits, family members and houses.

So, we can see that the first and foremost step in writing a theme based essay is to identify the main theme or themes from the title itself. However, just depending upon the title of the literary work is simply not enough for identifying the main themes in the novel or story. You must also read the entire novel/story right from the start till the end a number of times as to acquaint yourself thoroughly about the underlying themes present in it. The following steps will help you in identifying the underlying themes in a better way for your theme based essay:

  • Notice the patterns and symbols in the story. Does it appear to be repeating itself regularly? For example, in the novel ‘Blood Wedding’, there is a lot of repetition and stress on blood and wedding. This indicates that these two form the main themes in the novel. If you follow the main patterns and symbols, you will get a better idea of the main themes present in the novel or story, which in turn will make it easier for you to write the theme based essay.
  • Notice the allusions that are made in the novel or story. Allusion is a literary technique which is used by writers to make indirect or implicit references to something in their story or novel. If you can identify the allusions, you will also be able to identify the themes in the novel/story.
  • Emotions, ideas and other forms of abstract things also form the theme of a literary piece such as novels or short stories. For example, in the novel ‘Blood Wedding’, there is a lot of talk about murder, bloodshed, violence and all these form the core theme of the novel. So, basically, the theme can be found at the deeper level, i.e., at the intellectual or emotional level, which makes it a bit abstract but still identifiable at the surface level. 

Once you have identified the theme, you can start writing your actual essay. The steps in writing a theme based essay are:

  • Identify the character or character(s) that you are going to mention in your essay. These must relate to the theme you have identified and chosen for your theme based essay. For example, if you have chosen violence as the main theme in the novel ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’, you must write mainly on the characters that take part in violence or are sufferers/witnesses to violence in the novel. For example, you can write how Santiago Nasar was killed violently by the Vicario brothers. How violence is visible from the early part of the novel, how the guns and knives are depicted as violent tools in the plot, etc.
  • Maintain the chosen theme by highlighting it throughout your essay. For example, if you have taken violence as the theme from the novel ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’, write on everything that contains violence or refers to violence in the novel. It doesn’t necessarily have to be based on blood bath, gore or macabre, but can include small incidents of violence like underlying tensions, fits, outrage, outbursts, emotional extremes, etc. The point is that you should try to remain as close to the underlying theme that you are writing in your theme based essay as possible by highlighting incidents and situations from the background source, which could be a novel, story, drama or any other literary piece. For example, here, the source referred is from the novel ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’.
  • Do not try to mix the main theme with the main subject of the novel/story. Many students assume that the theme and plot/story/subject are the same things and try to write on the story or plot. However, a theme is not the plot or story but is actually an idea, which binds the story or plot in a tight fashion. It is more like a message or the main idea(s) that the writer wants to convey to the readers/audience.
  • Start with a brief background of the underlying theme(s) that you have identified in the source matter and mention that in the introduction part of the essay. For example, if you have chosen violence as the main theme from the novel ‘Blood Wedding’, you could start writing in the following way: “The novel Blood Wedding, written by Federico García Lorca, depicts violence in such a way that even the modern reader of today’s times is intrigued by it. One of the main female characters in the novel, La Novia, causes a number of violent murders in the play. The theme of violence can be felt in the first Act itself when El Novio’s mother responds violently and in a bizarre manner when El Novio asks her for a knife - “Knives, knives…Curse them all.” (Lorca, 5) The reaction of El Novio’s mother shows how much fear she has for knives and other similar sharp objects. El Novio’s father was killed in a ghastly manner when his assailants inflicted multiple stabs on his chest and stomach. Due to the violent murder of her husband, El Novio’s mother is in a state of shock and apprehends violence when she hears about the knife.”
  • Keep your thoughts well organised and relate the themes closely knitted throughout the main body in your theme based essay. The body should relate only to the main theme but can also refer to other characters, plot, incidents and events that happen in the source matter.
  • After you have presented all the incidents and events related to the main theme, you can summarise the effect of the theme on the character(s) or the plot/story and how it affects the novel/story/drama. This way the conclusion would be solid and effective too.

If you follow the above steps, you would find it easier to write a theme based essay.

How to Write a Theme Based Essay

Frequently Asked Questions About Writing a Theme Based Essay

What is the difference between a theme essay and a research paper?

A theme based essay is one in which you are required to write on a theme stemming from a source such as a story, book, drama, song or poem. A research paper, on the other hand, is an argument you make or analysis of your perspective on a topic that is supported by relevant information from a variety of sources. While both require analysis of the topic or theme, the research paper is a specific type of paper that it expands on an essay by requiring you to choose a standpoint and make an argument for it. 

What is a good topic sentence for a theme paper?

A good topic sentence for a theme paper is one that outlines the general idea of the essay in the first sentence of the paragraph. It is an introduction to the essay and allows the reader to know what to expect when they read through the piece.

What is a good hook for a theme essay?

A good hook sentence is meant to grab your reader’s attention. It must speak directly to your reader, be well-crafted with the right, carefully chosen words and should be consistent with your style of writing. These can take the form of a well-known anecdote, a thought-provoking question, a quote or a fact/statistics. Regardless of your choice, it must serve the purpose of grabbing the attention of your readers.

How to write an introduction paragraph for a theme analysis essay?

The first step in writing an introduction for a theme analysis essay is reading and understanding the theme behind the piece to be written about. Once you’ve found your theme, you will want to state what the general theme is and create a thesis statement. The thesis statement will then be used to explain what your theme paper will be about. When you review the piece to be written about, it is best to take thorough notes on the main points of interest so that you can explain and expound on them in your essay. Starting a theme essay with a good hook will help you to capture your readers’ attention. From there, you can follow through with your thesis statement and introduction of your main ideas.

How to write a thesis for a theme essay?

The thesis statement is written in the introductory paragraph of your essay. It explains the focal point of your piece and must be linked to the theme of the essay. The rest of your essay will be written to support the thesis statement.

How to write a theme essay of a book?

The theme is the overarching idea of the piece you are writing about. In order to write the theme you must read and understand the piece; this includes the tone, characters, scenes, etc. of the piece. Making notes of similar concepts within the piece will help you to identify and state the theme.

How do I explore a certain theme in a literature essay?

When exploring the theme in a literature essay, you need to review all aspects of the piece you are wiring about, including the characters, setting, plot, scenes, language, dialogue, etc. Identify commonalities within the piece that will aid you in drafting a theme that the reader will understand and get the gist of the essay.

How to write a conclusion for a theme essay?

The conclusion should be a summary of the main points stated in your theme paper expressed in a concise and direct manner. In it, you should paraphrase your thesis statement, restate the theme, remind the audience of the main points and have a closing sentence that provides closure to your piece while still being memorable. Remember, the conclusion must be the tie that brings together your entire essay.

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A classic format for compositions is the five-paragraph essay. It is not the only format for writing an essay, of course, but it is a useful model for you to keep in mind, especially as you begin to develop your composition skills. The following material is adapted from a handout prepared by Harry Livermore for his high school English classes at Cook High School in Adel, Georgia. It is used here with his permission.

Introduction:

Introductory Paragraph

See, first, Writing Introductory Paragraphs for different ways of getting your reader involved in your essay. The introductory paragraph should also include the thesis statement, a kind of mini-outline for the paper: it tells the reader what the essay is about. The last sentence of this paragraph must also contain a transitional "hook" which moves the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the paper.

Body:

Body — First paragraph:

The first paragraph of the body should contain the strongest argument, most significant example, cleverest illustration, or an obvious beginning point. The first sentence of this paragraph should include the "reverse hook" which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the introductory paragraph. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional hook to tie into the second paragraph of the body.

Body — Second paragraph:

The second paragraph of the body should contain the second strongest argument, second most significant example, second cleverest illustration, or an obvious follow up the first paragraph in the body. The first sentence of this paragraph should include the reverse hook which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the first paragraph of the body. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional hook to tie into the third paragraph of the body.

Body — Third paragraph:

The third paragraph of the body should contain the weakest argument, weakest example, weakest illustration, or an obvious follow up to the second paragraph in the body. The first sentence of this paragraph should include the reverse hook which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the second paragraph. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional concluding hook that signals the reader that this is the final major point being made in this paper. This hook also leads into the last, or concluding, paragraph.

Conclusion:

Concluding paragraph:

This paragraph should include the following:

  1. an allusion to the pattern used in the introductory paragraph,
  2. a restatement of the thesis statement, using some of the original language or language that "echoes" the original language. (The restatement, however, must not be a duplicate thesis statement.)
  3. a summary of the three main points from the body of the paper.
  4. a final statement that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end. (This final statement may be a "call to action" in an persuasive paper.)

A Sample Paper

1Stephen King, creator of such stories as Carrie and Pet Sematary, stated that the Edgar Allan Poe stories he read as a child gave him the inspiration and instruction he needed to become the writer that he is. 2Poe, as does Stephen King, fills the reader's imagination with the images that he wishes the reader to see, hear, and feel. 3His use of vivid, concrete visual imagery to present both static and dynamic settings and to describe people is part of his technique. 4Poe's short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a story about a young man who kills an old man who cares for him, dismembers the corpse, then goes mad when he thinks he hears the old man's heart beating beneath the floor boards under his feet as he sits and discusses the old man's absence with the police. 5In "The Tell-Tale Heart," a careful reader can observe Poe's skillful manipulation of the senses. The introductory paragraph includes a paraphrase of something said by a famous person in order to get the reader's attention. The second sentence leads up to the thesis statement which is the third sentence. The thesis statement (sentence 3) presents topic of the paper to the reader and provides a mini- outline. The topic is Poe's use of visual imagery. The mini- outline tells the reader that this paper will present Poe's use of imagery in three places in his writing: (1) description of static setting; (2) description of dynamic setting; and (3) description of a person. The last sentence of the paragraph uses the words "manipulation" and "senses" as transitional hooks.
1The sense of sight, the primary sense, is particularly susceptible to manipulation. 2In "The Tell-Tale Heart," Poe uses the following image to describe a static scene: "His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness . . ." Poe used the words "black," "pitch," and "thick darkness" not only to show the reader the condition of the old man's room, but also to make the reader feel the darkness." 3"Thick" is a word that is not usually associated with color (darkness), yet in using it, Poe stimulates the reader's sense of feeling as well as his sense of sight. In the first sentence of the second paragraph (first paragraph of the body) the words "sense" and "manipulation" are used to hook into the end of the introductory paragraph. The first part of the second sentence provides the topic for this paragraph--imagery in a static scene. Then a quotation from "The Tell-Tale Heart" is presented and briefly discussed. The last sentence of this paragraph uses the expressions "sense of feeling" and "sense of sight" as hooks for leading into the third paragraph.
1Further on in the story, Poe uses a couple of words that cross not only the sense of sight but also the sense of feeling to describe a dynamic scene. 2The youth in the story has been standing in the open doorway of the old man's room for a long time, waiting for just the right moment to reveal himself to the old man in order to frighten him. 3Poe writes: "So I opened it [the lantern opening]--you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily--until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye." 4By using the metaphor of the thread of the spider (which we all know is a creepy creature) and the word "shot," Poe almost makes the reader gasp, as surely did the old man whose one blind eye the young man describes as "the vulture eye." The first sentence of the third paragraph (second paragraph of the body) uses the words "sense of sight" and "sense of feeling" to hook back into the previous paragraph. Note that in the second paragraph "feeling" came first, and in this paragraph "sight" comes first. The first sentence also includes the topic for this paragraph--imagery in a dynamic scene. Again, a quotation is taken from the story, and it is briefly discussed. The last sentence uses the words "one blind eye" which was in the quotation. This expression provides the transitional hook for the last paragraph in the body of the paper.
1The reader does not know much about what the old man in this story looks like except that he has one blind eye. 2In the second paragraph of "The Tell-Tale Heart," Poe establishes the young man's obsession with that blind eye when he writes: "He had the eye of the vulture--a pale blue eye, with a film over it." 3This "vulture eye" is evoked over and over again in the story until the reader becomes as obsessed with it as does the young man. 4His use of the vivid, concrete word "vulture" establishes a specific image in the mind of the reader that is inescapable. In the first sentence of the fourth paragraph (third paragraph in the body), "one blind eye" is used that hooks into the previous paragraph. This first sentence also lets the reader know that this paragraph will deal with descriptions of people: ". . . what the old man looks like . . .." Once again Poe is quoted and discussed. The last sentence uses the word "image" which hooks into the last paragraph. (It is less important that this paragraph has a hook since the last paragraph is going to include a summary of the body of the paper.)
1"Thick darkness," "thread of the spider," and "vulture eye" are three images that Poe used in "The Tell-Tale Heart" to stimulate a reader's senses. 2Poe wanted the reader to see and feel real life. 3He used concrete imagery rather than vague abstract words to describe settings and people. 4If Edgar Allan Poe was one of Stephen King's teachers, then readers of King owe a debt of gratitude to that nineteenth-century creator of horror stories. The first sentence of the concluding paragraph uses the principal words from the quotations from each paragraph of the body of the paper. This summarizes those three paragraph. The second and third sentences provide observations which can also be considered a summary, not only of the content of the paper, but also offers personal opinion which was logically drawn as the result of this study. The last sentence returns to the Edgar Allan Poe-Stephen King relationship which began this paper. This sentence also provides a "wrap-up" and gives the paper a sense of finality.

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