THEME (source: Perrine, L. 1987, Story and Structure) adapted sfox 3 Essential Issues 1. What is it? 2. How can I state it? 3. How can I prove it? 1. What is it? Definition: “The theme of a piece of literature is its controlling idea or its central insight. It is the unifying generalization about life stated or implied in the [literature]. To derive the theme of a story, we must ask what its central purpose is: what view of life it supports or what insight into life it reveals” (p.108). 2. How can I state it? There are several principles involved in correctly stating theme: “Theme must be expressible in the form of a statement with a subject and predicate” (p.113). For example X Motherhood √ Motherhood sometimes creates frustrations but also has numerous rewards. 3. It is important not to make the generalization larger than is justified by the terms of the literature. “Terms like every, all, always, should be used very cautiously; terms like, some, sometimes, are often more accurate” (p.113). 4. “Theme is the central and unifying concept of the story. If we cannot explain the bearing of an important incident or character on the theme … it is probable that our interpretation is partial or incomplete” (p.113). -Theme must account for all major details of the story. -Theme must not be contradicted by any detail of the story. -Theme must not rely on supposed facts. The facts must be in the story (p.113) 5. “There is no one way of stating theme… The story presents a view of life … that may be expressed in different ways” (p.114). -“A sensitive, creative individual … may find it difficult to cope with the realities of life” (p.114). -Sometimes, being confronted with numerous difficulties causes a person to become despondent. 6. “Avoid any statement which reduces the theme to a familiar saying that we have heard all of our lives [a cliché] such as “You can’t judge a book by its cover” (p.114). This could be reworded as “The outward appearance of an individual may not provide sufficient information with which to judge his character.” 7. How Can I Prove It? Read the Passage AND Read the Notes which follow: Claudius / Source: http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/hamlet/canalysis.html Hamlet’s major antagonist is a shrewd, lustful, conniving king who contrasts sharply with the other male characters in the play. Whereas most of the other important men in Hamlet are preoccupied with ideas of justice, revenge, and moral balance, Claudius is bent upon maintaining his own power. The old King Hamlet was apparently a stern warrior, but Claudius is a corrupt politician whose main weapon is his ability to manipulate others through his skillful use of language. Claudius’s speech is compared to poison being poured in the ear—the method he used to murder Hamlet’s father. Claudius’s love for Gertrude may be sincere, but it also seems likely that he married her as a strategic move, to help him win the throne away from Hamlet after the death of the king. As the play progresses, Claudius’s mounting fear of Hamlet’s insanity leads him to ever greater self-preoccupation; when Gertrude tells him that Hamlet has killed Polonius, Claudius does not remark that Gertrude might have been in danger, but only that he would have been in danger had he been in the room. He tells Laertes the same thing as he attempts to soothe the young man’s anger after his father’s death. Claudius is ultimately too crafty for his own good. In Act V, scene ii, rather than allowing Laertes only two methods of killing Hamlet, the sharpened sword and the poison on the blade, Claudius insists on a third, the poisoned goblet. When Gertrude inadvertently drinks the poison and dies, Hamlet is at last able to bring himself to kill Claudius, and the king is felled by his own cowardly machination. THEME: Look at these 3 areas: 1. Main Character: 2. Main Conflict: 3. Conflict Resolution Claudius Seeks to become King (is not heir to throne) Fails and dies from his own poison Thematic Statement: When an individual is corrupt and perpetrates evil, he shall be caught in the end. Supporting a Thematic Statement Using the Sandwich Technique: 1,2,3, Introduce & Quote & Explain Claudius is a selfish and foolish leader. In a corrupt fashion, he starts a chain of death in Hamlet’s Kingdom by murdering his brother, King Hamlet Senior. His behavior shows that when one is corrupt and perpetrates evil, he ultimately destroys himself. His poison spreads forth to engulf all when he pours poison into his brother’s ear. The poison spreads throughout the kingdom drawing in the innocent and unsuspecting. Thus, Claudius becomes his own murderer, and in the final moments of his own life he allows Laertes, Gertrude and Hamlet to be poisoned too.