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How to state a theme - yourhomework.com Home Page

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How to state a theme
Modified from Susan Vreeland, What English Teachers Want
1. Phrase it as a complete thought, not a topic.
Poor: The theme of The Great Gatsby is moral decay.
Better: Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby suggests that pursuit of material gain causes moral decay.
2. It is an observation about a universal topic; not just about the book, but bigger than the book.
Poor: Fitzgerald suggests that Gatsby's dream of attaining Daisy justifies the means he uses to reach it.
Better: Fitzgerald suggests that some dreams justify the means used to obtain them.
3. State it as an idea or observation, NOT as advice or cliché.
Poor: Fitzgerald's message is that we should keep on trying to reach our goals no matter how distant they may seem
Better: Fitzgerald asserts that pursuit of dreams, even if unsuccessful, may be noble in itself.
4. State it literally. Don't use figurative, poetic or dramatic language.
Poor: Fitzgerald suggests that those who pursue materialism may find their souls bruised and scarred by the battle to secure status and comfort.
Better: Fitzgerald suggests that the pursuit of materialism causes individuals to compromise their morality.
5. It should be worth arguing about.
Poor: Fitzgerald suggests that materialism is bad.
Better: Fitzgerald suggests that materialism can cause individuals to focus solely on the pursuit of material gain at the expense of engaging in meaningful personal development.
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