I came to this site for clarification on theme…before I end up teaching it to my students. Always a good idea to make sure I understand what the hell I’m talking about. The initial section on theme is fine, but I feel the clarity of this site gets muddied when the writer decides to contrast theme with subject.
The salient quote is as follows: Subject is a topic which acts as a foundation for a literary work while a theme is an opinion expressed on the subject.”
OK, I can handle that idea, but to my mind there is some ambiguity in how theme is defined above in the first section. “Theme is is an idea that a writer repeats in his work.” Then the writer mentions Pride and Prejudice’s themes of matrimony, love, friendship and affectation.
But couldn’t these just as easily be the subjects of the novel? Isn’t matrimony the topic which acts as a foundation for P&P? I don’t see opinion in there.
My problem with these definitions is that as the writer moves along, the definition of theme morphs into something more specific, but leaves the trace of its earlier, more general definition, which invites confusion. Am I making myself clear? Perhaps not.
As a teacher of 7th graders, moreover, I’m wondering if I want to explain theme, but I’m not sure I want to contrast it with subject because of the time and effort to explain the differences, particularly because the two words/ideas are so closely aligned, even based on the 2nd definition in this web site.