Essay Four: Theme Analysis
The theme of a work of literature is the observation the author conveys/communicates about his subject matter; it is a message about the behavior of human beings or the conduct of society; it is an insight into the human condition. The author conveys this theme through the manner in which he/she writes the story. The theme of a literary work is its underlying central idea, or the generalization it communicates about life. At times, the author`s theme may not confirm or agree with your own beliefs, but even then, if it is skillfully written, the work will still have a theme that illuminates some aspects of true human experience. Theme is the insight we gain from thinking about what we have read. A theme is a message you can find in a work of literature and apply to your own life. A theme is more than one word. In a novel, there are usually several themes that weave together throughout the book.
Some common themes in literature:
- Death is part of the life cycle.
- The struggle to understand spirituality can be enlightening
- Love is the worthiest of pursuits
- Sacrifices bring reward
- Man/Woman struggles against societal pressure
I found this website very helpful for understanding theme:
See also the chapter “Theme Analysis” on Canvas.
Questions for Theme Analysis
When you think about what important ideas or themes are conveyed in The Highest Tide, think about what message or messages the book conveys about human nature. Think about the topics of some of your journal entries: what did you notice? What did you write about? Here are some questions to get you thinking about theme in our book:
1. Does the title of the book provide a clue to one of the author`s themes?
2. What do characters in the book do that helps illustrate this theme or another theme?
3. What do characters say that helps illustrate this theme or another theme?
4. Does the setting (the time and place) of the book help to illustrate a theme?
5. What events take place in the book that help illustrate a theme that you see? Do the results/outcomes of these events help to convey a theme?
6. Are there any images or clusters of images that repeat throughout the book? Do these images support the idea or theme that you find in the book?
7. Are there any symbolic characters that help to illustrate the theme?
8. Is there a lesson learned by a character that conveys a theme?
9. What`s the message you take from the story?
Writing your Essay
First, pick one theme to analyze in essay four. Next, you need to decide on a draft thesis statement. Try to use at least two features from The Highest Tide (see questions 1 through 8 above and the chapter on “Theme Analysis” on Canvas) to form your draft thesis. Then you need to form a rough outline following the example below.
- Get our attention and make us want to read your paper.
- Use one or two sentences to express your personal opinions on the subject of the book and transition into your thesis.
- Thesis: State the theme (the major insight about life) that you conclude from the book.
- Describe in general how the author expresses the theme by mentioning the features the author uses (see questions 1 through 8 above) i.e., characterization, symbolism, setting, events, imagery, etc.
- Your thesis needs to look something like this: In Jim Lynch`s novel The Highest Tide, Lynch communicates the theme (insert message about life here—advice about life) through (insert literary elements here such as setting, what the characters do, what the characters say, major plot lines, etc)
- Write a minimum of three body paragraphs to explain how the author expresses the theme in his book. For each body paragraph, you will need a minimum of two quotations from the book. Remember: Don`t rely on the quotes to explain themselves. You need to lead into the quote and comment on the quote after you quote it; you need to effectively show how the quote helps to prove your point.
Our theme analysis chapter (that I posted in Module Four) does a wonderful job of explaining the formatting of body paragraphs, so I`ll quote it here:
The body paragraphs relate both to the theme and the way it emerges in the book. The topic sentence states the portion of the theme to be developed/analyzed and generally indicates how it will be illustrated by leading into some introductory information for the supporting quote (from the book) to follow. The quotation should directly relate to theme development, and your analysis should explore the idea about life that is illustrated by the quote. This pattern of 1) generalization, 2) introductory information for the quote, 3) the quotation, and 4) analysis, is used again in the same paragraph after a brief transition which carries the reader from one part of the book to another; in fact, the more the pattern is used, the better the body paragraph. Always keep in mind that the last body paragraph is an important one because of its climactic position; as a result, it should be developed in even more detail than the other body paragraphs. (McKeague 75)
Remember your options under “Questions for Theme Analysis” above for analyzing how the author makes the theme emerge in his book.
- Restate your thesis. Do NOT repeat it: restate it. Try to use only one sentence! Avoid listing your main points. Think of a different way to say it.
- What did you think of the theme? How has it affected you? Discuss the theme as it applies to the book and then to real people who might be in similar circumstances. This focusing on the particular and the universal aspects of the theme brings home the fact that literature can teach all of us about the joys and sorrows of life. Not only do the characters in the book learn through their experiences—we and others learn by sharing them.
You must include at least one outside resource in this essay, in addition to The Highest Tide, and include a works cited page at the end of your essay. This means you will have at least two sources on your works cited page. You can quote a book, internet site, magazine, newspaper, a person, etc. Make sure and indicate your source so that you are not committing plagiarism. See the handouts in the Punctuation/MLA module.
You must use correct MLA format for your citations in your paper and your works cited page.
For the works cited page at the end of your essay, again take a look at the MLA Handouts Module. Also, for help formatting each citation, you should definitely check out www.easybib.com or www.citationmachine.net. These fill-in-the-blank sites are amazing.
Concrete Details in Examples
For the examples/quotations from the book to support your claims, you will want vivid examples that are full of specific, concrete details (imagery) which help to convey the theme. Look for examples that engage the senses of the reader.
You will submit three rough drafts of this essay and complete three peer critiques before submitting your final draft. See our class schedule for due dates. Note that your second and third rough drafts must be substantially revised in order for you to receive full credit.
- Thesis-driven theme analysis.
- Evidence: At least one outside sources in addition to quoting the Hotel book. So you`ll have a minimum of two sources on your works cited page.
- Length: Minimum of 1400 words.
- Heading: Head your paper using MLA format—see the handout “MLA Format: Essay Body” on Canvas in the Punctuation/MLA Module. Include your name, course information, instructor`s name, date.
- Running Header: Use a running header, with your last name and page number, in the upper right-hand corner of each page.
- Title: Give your paper an original title.
- Body of Essay: Use MLA format for the body of your essay. See the handout “MLA Format: Essay Body” on Canvas in the Punctuation/MLA Module
- You must use correct MLA format in this essay or it will greatly affect your grade.
Guidelines for Revision
- Clarify your main idea or interpretation. Your thesis—the main point of your interpretation—should be stated early in your essay. The thesis is often the last sentence in the first paragraph.
- Support each point of your theme analysis with specific, detailed examples and evidence. Do not be satisfied with one piece of evidence. Find as many bits of evidence as possible. The case for your interpretation grows stronger with each additional piece of evidence.
- Explain how each piece of evidence supports your interpretation. Do not just cite several pieces of evidence and go on to your next point. Explain for your readers how the evidence supports your interpretation.
- Revise your essay for sentence clarity and conciseness. Read your essay aloud or have someone read it aloud to you. Eliminate unnecessary repetition. Use active verbs. Rework awkward or confusing sentences.
- Edit your essay. Check your essay for correct spelling, word choice, punctuation, and grammar.
Checklist for Editing Final Draft
- Title: Does the essay have an informative and interesting title? Very important!
- Introduction: Does it grab the reader`s attention and make him/her curious?
- Thesis: What is the thesis? Does the essay contain an easily identifiable statement of its thesis? Is the thesis or main claim stated directly and clearly in the first paragraph? Does the thesis directly address the assignment? Is the thesis more than just a boring list of the main points?
- Paragraph formation: Is each paragraph unified by a topic sentence or central idea? Does each paragraph in the body of the essay contain a topic sentence that advances an aspect of the overall thesis?
- Supporting Evidence: Are generalizations supported by appropriate details? Does the essay show sufficient supporting evidence to make its interpretations and claims plausible and persuasive? Do you use evidence that is full of concrete details (see, smell, hear, taste, touch)? Do you use at least three quotations from the book in each body paragraph?
- Persuasiveness: Is the argument and conclusion convincing? Does it display enough supporting evidence to be persuasive?
- So What?: In your conclusion, do you answer the question “So what does this mean?”
URGENT NEED FOR THE FOLLOWING PAST DUE ASSIGNMENTS>>>
Complete an informal outline and working thesis for your essay. Craft your outline and thesis based on the rough draft instructions in the Essay Four Theme Instructions.rtfPreview the documentView in a new window. Minimum 300 words in your outline.
Note: I`d like to point out that there is more than one main theme in the book, so I should not see 25 papers on the same theme. And, even if you are analyzing the same theme as another student, each person`s opinion of a theme is going to be different. In other words: each student`s paper should be unique.
Fat Outline of Essay Four
Due Nov 18 by 11:59pm Points 50 Submitting a text entry box or a file upload
“Fat Outline” of at least 500 words for essay four. I want to see your draft thesis, an outline of your main points, and at least 500 overall words of content for those main points.You can use your outline from the last assignment and just add to it.
Check out these handouts for help with drafting your essay Handouts to Help You Draft Essay Four
Your outline should look somewhat like the outline in section C1-d “Sketch a Plan” in A Writer`s Reference. Please also provide at least two subtopics for each main point. Here`s an online example http://www.austincc.edu/tmthomas/sample%20outline%201.htm (Links to an external site.)
Name: Instructor: Course: Date: The Highest Tide Introduction It is the first novel by Jim Lynch, an author who lives and writes about the Pacific Northwest. He writes about his childhood growing up along the beach. He is obsessed with the beach and spends most of his time there. He makes money by collecting small sea creatures and selling them for example starfish. One day he makes a great discovery as he finds a squid along the beach. His discovery makes the local news, and he becomes an