The English language is not as straightforward as it seems. Penning a quality essay or story requires in-depth knowledge of English grammar and sentence structure rulings.
A single paragraph may contain multiple different sentence types. An argumentative essay’s introductory paragraph, for example, may have many simple sentences, a thesis statement, and a thematic statement.
Thesis statements are present within almost every essay. Thematic statements, on the other hand, are less popular because not many people know about them. Regardless, they are an essential part of English writing, and learning about these statements will help you produce better essays. Thematic statements are most commonly employed within stories, though you can also find them in some formal texts.
This article will cover everything you need to know about thematic statements – what are they, where are they used, and how they differ from thesis statements. We’ll also explore the guidelines for penning a quality thematic statement, accompanied by multiple examples.
So, without further delay, let’s dive in!
In this article:
- What is a Thematic Statement?
- What’s the Purpose of Having a Theme?
- Where to Use Thematic Statements: Popular Examples
- How Are Thematic Statements Different from Thesis Statements?
- Theme vs. Topic
- How to Write a Thematic Statement
- What to Avoid When Writing a Thematic Statement
- Examples of Themes
- Examples of Thematic Statements
- In Summary
What is a Thematic Statement?
Thematic statements are unique sentences employed by writers to convey the most prominent message of their story or article. They summarize the essence of the story into a short, precise statement.
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Every thematic statement must contain a single root keyword. This keyword is called the ‘theme’ or a ‘thematic idea.’ Unlike thematic statements, thematic ideas are not complete sentences but only words.
Thematic statements grow from thematic ideas.
Some writers prefer to pen two thematic statements instead of one. This tactic is most common within more extensive texts that discuss multiple ideas. Still, the idea is to summarize the central message that the text aims to deliver to readers. Hence, thematic statements shouldn’t be too long. An entire paragraph of writing cannot qualify as a thematic statement.
Thematic statements do not target a specific audience. Expert writers know that thematic statements lose their purpose when directed at the reader. Hence, thematic statements should never sound personal. Words like “I” and “you” have no place within thematic statements because they narrow the thematic idea’s scope. You essentially direct an idea towards a specific audience by personalizing a statement. Hence, the audience’s perception of the statement’s message becomes relevant. Unfortunately, having the audience’s perception as a point of interest weakens the statement’s impact.
Let’s go over a simple example to understand this idea better:
Suppose the proposed thematic statement is “If you love sincerely, you will find joy.”
There are many problems with this statement. Firstly, it is a personal statement directed at an audience. A quality thematic statement must be impersonal. It should address not a person or audience but rather a single idea or message.
Another thing wrong with this sentence is its use of “if.” Writing “if” immediately transforms the text into a conditional statement that’s paired with a promise. Here, the statement mentioned above promises joy to those who love sincerely.
Unfortunately, promises are often broken and are seldom guaranteed. Therefore, it’s best to avoid making promises within thematic statements. Including the word “if” and closing the statement off with a promise only serves to weaken the sentence’s impact. Plus, it lengthens the statement. Remember, thematic statements should be concise and to the point. It should seek to deliver a single message in simple words.
A better thematic statement would be, “Sincere love results in joy.” This statement is direct and discusses one idea only. It does not make promises and is not an “if” statement. It is powerful and stated as a fact or lesson, allowing the reader to successfully understand the essay’s central idea.
What’s the Purpose of Having a Theme?
A theme is often used to summarize the focus or main idea that the author is trying to convey. Well-developed works of literature often have a multitude of themes that can be determined or understood at face value as well as on a much deeper level. Sometimes, the author wants you to read between the lines and form your own conclusion.
For readers, understanding the theme gives you a much more in-depth understanding of the storyline as well as added clarity. Understanding the themes of a literary piece will also inspire a greater appreciation of the literature’s deeper meanings and innuendos.
Themes allow authors to express their opinions and comment on humanistic traits or societal pressures without having to be too obvious about it.
Learning to understand themes allows the reader the opportunity to think about the plot on a much deeper level, form their own opinions and align their opinions with those of the authors. A greater understanding of themes will also inspire deeper thinking and promote self-reflection in the reader.
Determining themes requires reading between the lines, having a greater understanding of emotion and reactiveness and critical thinking to decipher the message that the author is attempting to convey.
Where to Use Thematic Statements: Popular Examples
Thematic statements are often found within the following literary works:
- Short, five-paragraph essays that are at least 500 words long
- Social science research essays, particularly on topics like sociology or psychology
- Marriage toasts, funeral speeches, and other emotionally-charged pieces of text, centered around a single theme (like love or death)
- Stories, including personal narratives and autobiographical essays
- Rhetorical analysis essays that explore a published author’s linguistic articulation. The use of thematic statements can help perfectly capture the author’s message without beating around the bush
How Are Thematic Statements Different from Thesis Statements?
As discussed previously, thematic statements aim to deliver a single idea through a simple yet impactful sentence. This “single idea” is the central message of a complete body of text (like a story or essay).
Thematic statements are interchangeable with thesis statements when employed within thematic essays. However, this is the exception, not the rule. In most literary works, thematic statements are different from thesis statements. Both statements may be interrelated yet express their ideas through differing sentence structures. Unlike their thematic counterparts, we structure thesis statements as arguments containing multiple points of interest.
For example, suppose you are writing an essay on climate change. Climate change is the essay’s primary theme or thematic idea. Hence, your thematic statement will stem from it. Your thesis statement will also refer to climate change. However, it may also talk about other ideas relevant to climate change. These ideas will vary depending on what stance your essay takes on the matter of climate change, of course.
Here’s what a thematic statement for an essay on climate change may look like:
“Climate change is harmful to the environment.”
A thesis statement concerning the same topic may look like this:
“Climate change is harmful to the environment because it is raising sea levels, causing global warming, and depleting Earth’s flora and fauna.” This statement is arguable, not factual. It can be debated and proven or disproven using evidence.
On the other hand, thematic statements are simple factual sentences and undebatable facts. For example, the theme for a story like Romeo and Juliet is love. The thematic statement developed from this theme could be “love comes with a high price.” By connecting the theme, or thematic idea, to a lesson, we can successfully portray a complete message to the reader. This message encapsulates the core idea running through the entire story.
Theme vs. Topic
A story’s theme and the topic may share common ground, but they are not the same. Themes are single words that capture the story or essay’s essence. For example, we know that Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet explores the theme of love. It also explores the theme of rivalry.
However, anyone who has read Romeo and Juliet knows that the topic is not love or rivalry. Instead, we can say the topic is “two young people belonging to rival families find love, only to suffer at its hands.” Notice how topics are complete sentences, whereas themes are standalone words.
A topic sentence may cite the story’s primary themes but goes a step further by exploring the plot, too. Topic statements are a tool to help better illustrate how a specific theme plays out within a story or essay. Hence, we see that theme and topic are not the same. However, they most certainly are interconnected.
How to Write a Thematic Statement
Thematic statements come from thematic ideas. Therefore, before you start penning a thematic statement, you must first identify your essay’s central theme or main idea. You can do so by referring to your essay’s title.
Suppose your thematic idea is love. Now that you’ve got your theme down move on to uncovering the theme assertion.
“Theme assertion” refers to the text’s central message. What lesson can we learn from reading a specific literary work, and how does this lesson relate to the thematic idea?
The thematic assertion is decided by the story or essay’s original author. A reader can only spot it. We can do so by exploring the author’s thoughts. For example, within Romeo and Juliet, we see Shakespeare imply that love (theme) has unintended negative consequences (assertion).
Combining the theme and assertion can yield a complete thematic statement. But if you’d like to take things further, you can always add a ‘qualifying clause.’
Qualifying clauses are optional. You can add them after a thematic assertion to further define the thematic statement.
Let’s take the example of Romeo and Juliet again:
Love (theme) has unintended negative consequences (assertion) that cannot be denied (qualifying clause).
Notice how the qualifying clause adds to the overall thematic statement. However, if you wrote the qualifying clause on its own, it would not make any sense as a standalone sentence. Yet, when meshed with a theme and assertion, it can help create a well-rounded statement.
Here’s a quick summary of other ways to identify themes:
- Pay attention to the plot: Write down the main elements of the work like, plot, the tone of the story, language style, characters traits. Were there any conflicts? What was the most important moment of the story? What was the main character’s goal? What was the author’s resolution for the conflict? How did the story end?
- Identify the literary subject: If you had to tell someone about the book, how would you describe it to them?
- Who is the protagonist: Plainly put, who is the hero or the ‘good guy’? How did the character develop and grow throughout the plot? What was the character’s effect on all the other people around him? How did he/she impact the other characters? How does this character relate to the others?
Assess the author’s point of view: What was the author’s view on the characters and how they made choices? What message could the author be trying to send us? This message is the theme. Find clues in quotes from the main characters, language use, the final resolution of the main conflict.
What to Avoid When Writing a Thematic Statement
Thematic statements aren’t overly complicated. However, being human, there is always room for error.
Keep an eye out for the following mistakes when penning thematic statements:
- Remember to mention the story or essay’s central theme within the thematic statement.
- Avoid summarizing the literary work – that’s what topic sentences are for!
- Stay away from absolute terms like “always.”
- Overgeneralization is unnecessary and distracts from the main idea.
- Do not say, “this story’s theme is….” Instead, weave the thematic idea’s keyword (“love”) into the thematic statement.
- Avoid metaphors, complicated idioms, and flowery language.
- Don’t beat about the bush.
- Stay away from cliché statements and trendy slogans or chants.
- Qualifying clauses are not compulsory. Only use them if you feel they’ll improve your writing without complicating it.
You can successfully pen a striking thematic statement by avoiding these common writing mistakes.
Examples of Themes
There are many great literary theme examples of love that have developed through the ages, one of the most famous ones being, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet of course. Theme: A tragic tale of forbidden love with terrible consequences.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is yet another classic example that explores the type of love that grows slowly where there was once dislike and misunderstanding.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte explores love in a completely different light, highlighting the way its intensity and power disrupt and even destroy lives.
The book thief by Marcus Zusak is narrated by death itself, exploring his role in taking lives in setting Germany in World War 2.
The Fault in Our Stars features teenagers who come to terms with the grave reality of death while coming to terms with their terminal illness.
Good vs. Evil
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien displays the battle of good versus evil quite clearly in its tale of hobbits, elves and men teaming up to defeat the power hungry Sauron and his armies of dark creatures.
The Stand by Stephen King features the light versus dark dichotomy. Staging a battle between good and evil through the characters of Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg.
Power and Corruption
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the tragic tale of a character seeking power for his own sake, and dealing with the consequences of his own self minded ambition.
Animal Farm by George Orwell is another iconic classic exploration of power and corruption, an allegorical story about a group of animals who rise up against their human masters with increasingly sinister results.
Lord of the flies by William Golding focuses on a group of young boys stuck on a deserted island, chronicling their attempts to survive and govern themselves.
Room by Emma Donoghue tells a different story of survival as that of a woman who has been held captive for seven years and her five-year-old son who doesn’t know a normal life outside of the room that they are held captive in.
Coming of Age
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger follows a sixteen-year-old boy dealing with teenage angst and rebellion in the 1950s.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is the story of a teenager named Charlie navigating all the challenges that come with the time between adolescence and adulthood.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is noted as one of the most famous explorations of prejudice and racism. A white lawyer Atticus Finch is appointed to defend Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of rape.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelly explores prejudice and fear of the unknown throughout the story of Dr. Frankenstein and the ‘monster’ he created.
Examples of Thematic Statements
Now that we’ve gone over the guidelines associated with writing a thematic statement, let’s explore some theme sentence examples:
Thematic Statement Examples for Love
- Love can heighten our sense of courage.
- Loving ourselves can heal our emotional scars, even if it takes time.
- Love is more powerful than infatuation.
Thematic Statement Examples for Identity
- Accepting our true selves can help us lead happier lives.
- Our identity is crafted from personal experiences.
- Believing in ourselves can help us achieve the impossible.
Thematic Statement Examples for Fear
- Fear is a state of mind.
- We can overcome fear through strong faith.
- Fear is an inevitable emotion.
- All humans experience fear.
Thematic Statement Examples for Death
- We should embrace death as an inevitable fact of life.
- Nobody can evade death.
- Seeing their loved ones die makes people sad.
Thematic Statement Examples for Trust
- Healthy relationships are built on trust.
- To achieve success, we must trust our gut instinct.
- Not everyone deserves to be trusted.
- We should choose who to trust with care.
Pay attention to how each statement covers only a single idea relating to one theme. This is a trademark rule with thematic statements. It helps them remain simple, unwinding, and direct.
Learning about thematic statements is an essential part of every writer’s journey. Storybook authors, in particular, should be well-aware of thematic statements and their undeniable importance.
A quality thematic statement can make your story much easier to understand. That’s because a thematic statement stems from the story’s central or thematic idea and captures the story’s true essence. Hence, thematic statements are incomplete without discussing the literary work’s primary theme.
Thematic statements should not be confused with thesis statements. Both are important in their own right, yet neither one can replace the other. Thematic statements are factual, whereas thesis statements explore arguments that can be disproven with relevant evidence.
Thesis statements seldom exist within stories. Instead, they are a characteristic of formal essays, particularly argumentative ones. However, to truly understand the essence of a story, one must first learn to understand the nature of thematic statements.
A story or essay’s theme is also strikingly different from its topic. Thematic ideas (themes) are typically single words. On the other hand, topics are illustrated through multiple words. As a result, we often see topic sentences and single-worded themes.
The best thematic statements reference a single theme. After identifying the story’s theme, these statements build upon a lesson or message relating to said theme. This thematic idea keyword (for example, love or death) must appear within the thematic statement.
Thematic statements must also contain a thematic assertion. A thematic assertion is essentially an explanation, lesson, or central message the story conveys.
A single thematic idea and assertion are enough to create a complete thematic statement. However, some people prefer adding an optional qualifying clause, too. After adding the clause, you’re left with a comprehensive, well-rounded thematic statement.