How to write a theme essay for college


A thematic essay develops around a specific topic, so to write a good essay, you need to divide the writing process into several parts: preview, writing, and checking.

A theme essay presumes the analysis of the theme and involves you working with the thought, the concept, believe, or opinion that the author has. It is very helpful to study a theme when working on different aspect of literature rather than studying it by itself. The theme is the main observation or message the writer suggests.

How to find a theme?

Sometimes you can discover the theme by simply reading through the work and looking for topics that appear again and again. You will see that some characters of the book talk about the same things repeatedly and it will be one of the topics of the work.

If you’re having difficulties in finding the theme of the work, study the relations of the parts of the story and the relations of the parts of the whole. Think about what kind of people the characters are, what they do, what motivates them, how the author presents the reality, what the author’s attitude towards the characters and the subject is, etc. You can also try and notice what paragraphs the author uses, whether they are conversational, very long, and involved, what kind of sentences there are in the story – long or short, etc. All these details will help you define the theme of the work. Novels usually have several themes while a short story mostly has only one.


An allusion is a figure of speech which is usually used as a type of shorthand for something else. Often allusions are used to make a point quickly. Look at your work you’re studying and see if there are any allusions. If there are some, think about whether they are historical, modern, or biblical.

If you do not know the cultural reference, it will be difficult for you to recognize allusions. If you find allusions in your work, this may be a good point for you to start with. If there are many allusions about a certain topic, that is a good sign that the topic is a theme in the work.

Taking notes

Literary themes are suggested through the elements of the text. That is why take notes as your read. It will help you determine and collect the clues of the book. Highlighting interesting passages, moments when characters make difficult decisions, writing down questions, and examples of symbolism will make the interpretation of the book deeper and will also provide you with the material to base your essay on.

How to write a theme essay: Preview


First, understand the topic. Go through the title of the paper, where you need to formulate the topic.

  • Usually, the theme is denoted by the first noun in the title of the paper. For instance, the name is: “mood swings are one of the most common mental diseases.” It can be understood from this proposal that, most likely, the theme is mood swings.
  • However, the topic is not necessarily used in the title. Sometimes, you can get it from the first two proposals. For instance, you can start this way: “In psychology, illnesses that impact an ability of people to keep a certain mood are the most difficult to grasp.” Even if the topic is not obviously specified in the context, it is quite clear from this proposal what it is.

Determine your objectives, any items or things that need to be inserted in the essay. They can include information, samples, or the analysis of the samples.

  • quantity of samples is usually specified.
  • In every sample, most likely, it is necessary to give exact dates, facts, places, and events.
  • If the instructions do not indicate the objective of the paper (for instance, prove something), record the questions

In every sample, most likely, it is necessary to give exact dates, facts, places, and events.

If the instructions do not indicate the objective of the paper (for instance, prove something), record the questions that you need to answer. Structure a topic around these problems.

Search for samples that you can insert in the paper. They may be indicated in the instructions, or you’ll have to compile a sequence of samples on your own. Look for criteria or sample essays. A paper is a type of evaluation instrument, so you may be required to write a paper on the subject that you have already studied.

Compile possible samples. Select the most suitable and established facts. Make sure to check the minimum quantity of samples you’re allowed to use. In some theme papers, you may be offered to pick a position of the issue and explain it.

Provide examples to every little theme, including the points in the description. Creating an order chart may help you. Write down the requirements and objectives, then define which of them are the most important, and then think about how many details you can offer for every item.

Write down the thesis, a proposal that contains the idea of the essay, your main thought. It is advisable to insert the thesis in the entry paragraph.

The thesis has to reflect your point on the selected topic. The thesis can be added with samples and facts. For instance, a paper on mood swings may consist of the thesis like “Clinical depression is a mental disease that impacts various processes, but has not been studied sufficiently.”


Write an entry. The first paragraph is an entry paragraph, where you have to introduce the reader to the topic of the paper.

  • It needs to describe that in an essay you will offer arguments on some position, discuss a topic, etc.
  • If you compose a paper about a certain person, a situation, or event, you need to indicate this in the entry paragraph.

Concentrate on the body part of your paper. Every paragraph should talk about a certain little theme. Keep in mind the instruction for the paper not to go over the required size.

  • The quantity of paragraphs in the body can be different. Even if the instructions do not specify the number of paragraphs, the main part should include at least three of them.
  • Every paragraph’s first proposal should be connected with the preceding one and include a thesis on the little theme. The rest of the contents of the paragraph should include details and description.
  • If it is required, you can describe samples and evidence from the lectures or textbook on this subject. You can rephrase an example or quote it.
  • Refer to the list of examples that you prepared in advance. You can use as examples facts on this topic.

In deduction, write a brief summary. The final section is a revised thesis and its brief evidence.

  • Here, it is important to sum up the main ideas, evidence, and samples.
  • No new information should be provided.

How to write a theme essay: checking


Check the paper, by correcting spelling, punctuation, and other inexactitudes.

  • Grammatical and spelling mistakes can be fixed right away, but the rest of the inexactitudes need to be fixes later, at the verification stage.
  • These include ambiguity of the context and speech errors. Ambiguity of the context and other inaccuracies associated with the content appear when the content does not correspond to the topic, problem, or thesis. Speech inaccuracies include the disunity of paragraphs and sentences, the wrong sentence structure, and inappropriate vocabulary. All these errors need to be emphasized or highlighted in order to return to them later, when you rewrite the essay for a final copy.

Check the consistency of the content with the topic and requirements. Ask yourself whether you are satisfied with the content, whether it is compatible with the topic.

  • Go back to the errors and fix them.
  • This will also help to quickly check whether the paragraph and the micro theme meet the requirements.

Check whether your thesis confirms the content. After you are convinced that the essay meets all the requirements, check the contents again.

  • Read each paragraph of the main part. Each sentence must prove the thesis.
  • Verify the authenticity of the information and the truthfulness of the facts cited in support of the thesis.

If necessary, rewrite the essay for a clean copy. Pre-correct errors, remove inaccuracies.

The essay can be fixed, and you can rewrite it to a clean copy (depending on the requirements and the amount of errors).

Basically, one rewriting is enough, but otherwise, you can rewrite two, and even three times.

Finding the theme

A theme is the universal idea that is usually a reflection on human experiences offered by the text. Usually a theme can be found when evaluating the circumstances that surround repeated objects or symbols in the story. The main theme can also be defined by stating the strengths and weaknesses of the characters, their values, actions, and thoughts. The theme is not something that is obviously stated. Thus, the notes you took are very important for the identification and evaluation of the book’s main theme. Common examples of themes in the book include:

  • Crime doesn’t pay
  • Aging is inevitable
  • Death is a part of life


A theme essay is synthesizing your reflections on part of the story and their relationship to a deeper meaning. The analysis demonstrates how the theme is depicted in the text and why it is important both in the story and the real world. Analyzing, you can examine why characters make certain decisions, how the setting of the book influences the plot, what conflicts there are in the text, and how they are resolved. The main thing your analysis should do is to give an answer to the question why any of the points matter.

How to write a theme essay collecting quotations


In the body of your essay, you also need to include evidence to back up your analysis. Applying to direct quotes from the novel, you can connect the theme to the story using the specific examples. The quotations prove the point you are making. All quotations must be correctly cited and accompanied with explanations of how they are an example of the main theme of the book.

Writing theme statements

There are different ways to present your theme statement. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify the directions with your teacher. However, there are some agreed-upon rules of composing theme statements. They include:

  • Don’t apply to clichés. Don’t use popular expressions. They are just phrases people use all the time and they have very little power or real insight.
  • Don’t be too obvious. Do not write a theme like “War is bad.” Research a little deeper using details from the novel. Offer specifics on what is so bad about the war and how it impacts the characters in the story.
  • Don’t give advice. A sentence like “You should always be there for your family” is more a suggestion then a real theme. Make a theme statement objective and base it only on the evidence from the story.
  • Don’t insert plot points or specific characters. Don’t write anything like the perspective of the story should be used only by people and situations outside of the story.

Difference between a theme essay and research paper

In order to know how to write a theme essay professionally you need to know the difference of the theme essay and a research paper. In a theme essay, you need to write on a theme that comes from a source like drama, a book, a story, or a poem. Research paper is a piece of work where you need to make an argument or an analysis of your position on a certain topic that is backed up by relevant data from different sources. Even though both types of paper analyze the theme, the research paper is a specific kind that expands the theme requiring you to select a stand point and make an argument for it.

Writing an entry paragraph

The first thing you need to do when writing a theme essay is to compose an entry paragraph. You need to read and understand the theme of the piece you are writing about. When you find the theme, you will want to indicate what the general theme is and craft a thesis statement, which then will be used to give an explanation to what your paper is about. When reviewing the piece you are writing about, it is recommended to take notes on the main points of interest so that you can explain them and offer details on them in your paper in the course of work. It is also advisable to start an essay with a good hook, which will attract the attention of readers and make them read it till the end. Then you can introduce your statement and the entry of your main ideas.

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