Look up theme in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. In contemporary literary studies, a theme is the central topic a text treats. Themes can be divided into two categories: a work’s thematic concept is what readers “think the work is about” and its thematic statement being “what the work says about the subject”.
A story may have several themes. Themes often explore historically common or cross-culturally recognizable ideas, such as ethical questions, and are usually implied rather than stated explicitly. An example of this would be whether one should live a seemingly better life, at the price of giving up parts of one’s humanity, which is a theme in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Various techniques may be used to express many more themes.
Leitwortstil is the repetition of a wording, often with a theme, in a narrative to make sure it catches the reader’s attention. An example of a leitwortstil is the recurring phrase, “So it goes”, in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Thematic patterning means the insertion of a recurring motif in a narrative. For example, various scenes in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men are about loneliness. Some common themes in literature are “love,” “war,” “revenge,” “betrayal,” “patriotism,” “grace,” “isolation,” “motherhood,” “forgiveness,” “wartime loss,” “treachery,” “rich versus poor,” “appearance versus reality,” and “help from other-worldly powers.