In this article, I’m going to guide you EXACTLY how to select a thesis theme outline for your paper.
In fact, this is the exact process used by many students.
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Let’s dive right in
Before we get into today’s thesis theme outline guide, let understand what is a theme
What Is a Thesis Theme?
The theme in a thesis is the central idea of a work (art, literature, or film). What is the central message that an author is trying to convey in that piece of work? This is the first thing to ask yourself when trying to select a thesis theme . Don’t confuse the theme with the moral of the story. The theme is the point being driven home whereas the moral is the lesson you can pick up from a story. The theme explored in a certain piece of work can either be major or minor. Or in some cases, both themes can be explored in a piece of work.
In some cases, the theme in a piece of work is not clearly stated by the writer, it is up to the reader to infer the theme. And thus you can only know the theme in a piece of work after reading it if it is a book or watching that work if it is a film. Besides, themes in a piece of work reflect your personal view as a writer because people’s perceptions of a theme differ.
In addition, theme tends to have two parts; the concept which is conditional to the audience or readers and the statement part which is what the writer envisions.
The content of a piece of work and the main subject in that piece of work are much related to the theme. The message a writer is trying to pass to the audience is also related to the theme. When trying to select a thesis theme in a piece of work, it is important to note that the theme is not restricted to the texts only, the theme can manifest itself in other things such as music and dance.
There can be different themes explored in a work, either courage or the power of love, or fear of God. It is thus important to have some guidelines when selecting an essay theme in a piece of work.
How to Select a Thesis Theme
You shall start by first understanding how themes are expressed?
A novel or film theme can be very difficult to figure out because it is often implied. Themes are displayed in the character’s thoughts, feelings, and even actions. When you read a novel or watch a film, you picture the work’s underlying lesson in your mind. The theme is a universal concept and not a unique topic of work.
Common Thesis themes in literature.
Literature seems to be fond of exploring different themes such as love, revenge, and good versus evil. Let’s say you are discussing the Harry Potter series. The major theme in that series is death. His parents die and other main characters within the film like Lupin and Snape end up dead. Other characters in the film want to avoid death and try to be immortal and that still shows the theme of death.
If you are a writer discussing the major themes in Harry Porter, you shall consider the theme of death by selecting all angles and lenses through which this theme has been presented throughout the film or the book. You won’t only look at the characters dying, you shall also consider those characters trying to avoid death or the characters who believe in life after death.
You can also ask yourself if the characters in the film or the book has their immortal projects which they are trying to leave behind when they die. If a character has many kids, that is an immortal project since his or her lineage shall remain behind after their death. The character might be trying to ensure the best survival for their gene in an environment or a story where death is a common theme. If a character tries to do something monumental and memorable that they shall be remembered with after they die, that can be an act of a character defying the theme of death in some ways. That also touches on the theme of death broadly. A theme can thus be explored from several angles. Consider theme in this case as the abstract message that is subconsciously imparted in the piece of work.
When you select a thesis theme, all you need to do is to prove it from an evidential and argumentative perspective. If a writer is exploring a major theme in a film such as Hunger Games, the writer might pick on a popular theme in the work such as freedom versus oppression. The theme can be looked at from different angles in the piece of work. We can see this theme manifest itself through the capital’s oppression of the districts. That is one angle throw which this theme is expressed in the film, however, we can see in the film that Alma Coin, a character in the same film also tries to be oppressive towards the capital in return. The entire theme of freedom is painted in the film by trying to keep the citizenry under control and that they have no freedom to do whatever they wish they would want to.
A theme thus reflects your opinion of a piece of work as a writer based on the content, you can ask yourself a set of questions to select the theme in a thesis.
- Looking at a piece of work, what are the central ideas which are expressed through the characters? If the characters conflict, what is the cause of that conflict? You can also check on the external conflict and internal conflict explored in a body of work and how these two relate to each other. When the characters speak, what is their tone? Do they sound oppressed? If that is a yes, then there is a theme of oppression in that piece of work.
- What are the symbols, similes, and even metaphors used to pass a certain idea in a film or a story? That can help you explore the theme of a work. If there is a theme of love in a story, it can be symbolized by acts of understanding, forgiveness, the colors of love, and any act of intimacy. However, beyond that, if the characters are coming together towards a common goal, that can be also considered an act of love in itself and thus the theme can be expressed from many angles.
- The third question you ask yourself as a writer to help you craft a theme is what are the repeated images or words throughout the work? Are there expressions that an author is trying to use to emphasize his points? By looking at such imagery and expressions in a poem or a body of work, you can easily identify patterns that a writer uses to express the themes he wants to portray in a piece of work.
- You can also look at the title of a piece of work and how it relates to the story, is it significant to the work? The title can be satirical of the themes in content or it can be in alignment with the themes in a piece of work. In a film such as ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly’, the title is satirical of the themes explored in that film but at the same time, the title is very much aligned with the actions of the characters and the themes they portray. There are acts of goodness, greed, and evil through the acts of the characters in the film.
- Another way to select a thesis theme is to consider what a story or a work of art reveals about a society at a certain time. How were the people behaving at that time and what are the roles of men and women at that particular time when the story is told? In Jane Austen’s ‘pride and prejudice’, the expectations of women during the early 19th century are explored in the piece of work, and women who don’t conform to those expectations are ridiculed.
- Another question a writer can consider in selecting a thesis theme is if the central idea in a story makes sense considering the story and the title? What can you get in a piece of writing or film that tries to express the intent that work wants to portray? Thinking along those lines can help you select a thesis theme for your work that will be on point.
In a Nut Shell
In short, to unearth a theme, you can consider what problem a character is facing, the lesson he or she has learned from that particular story, and eventually the message that can be taken from the story. You analyze a theme in a story through different lenses in which it is portrayed because a theme is never stated and all you have to do as a writer is to uncover it by looking at the actions of the characters, the words, the tones, the elements and abstract ideas expressed in the piece of work. When you put all the patterns together, you can select the major and minor themes portrayed in a story. When you have a clear thesis theme, you can explore it with the evidence and patterns you have collected.