Theme (narrative)  

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 "The death ... of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world" is a dictum by Edgar Allen Poe, from his essay "The Philosophy of Composition".  Photo: A daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe, author of Tales of Mystery & Imagination
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"The death ... of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world" is a dictum by Edgar Allen Poe, from his essay "The Philosophy of Composition".
Photo: A daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe, author of Tales of Mystery & Imagination
Love and death are two recurring themes in art and literary history Illustration: El amor y la muerte (English: Love and Death) is plate 10 from the Caprichos by Francisco Goya.
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Love and death are two recurring themes in art and literary history
Illustration: El amor y la muerte (English: Love and Death) is plate 10 from the Caprichos by Francisco Goya.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In contemporary literary studies, a theme is the central topic a text treats.

The most common contemporary understanding of theme is an idea or concept that is central to a story, which can often be summed in a single word (e.g. love, death, betrayal). Typical examples of themes of this type are conflict between the individual and society; coming of age; humans in conflict with technology; nostalgia; and the dangers of unchecked ambition. A theme may be exemplified by the actions, utterances, or thoughts of a character in a novel. An example of this would be the theme loneliness in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, wherein many of the characters seem to be lonely. It may differ from the thesis—the text's or author's implied worldview.

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 ones humanity, which is a theme in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Along with plot, character, setting, and style, theme is considered one of the fundamental components of fiction.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Theme (narrative)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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