The 10 Most Common Themes in Classical NovelsJanuary 03, 2018

Not all novels will be given the classic treatment, which not only means a stamp of approval. It also suggests that the authors of these books manage to pen a story that should stand the test of time. Writing style is one of the factors, the other one will be a theme that readers will get into it. They will talk about it, like it's the story of their lives. They will describe the characters, like they are next-door neighbors. There's something else.

Novels can be classified according to themes, which shouldn't be surprising at all. Originality is defined as a new idea, also a worn-out concept that has been viewed differently. "Muriel's Wedding", for instance, would remain interesting and entertaining after all these (twenty-four) years, as the themes should touch the hearts of young people struggling to come to terms to their quirks and shortcomings. ABBA would give it a crowd-pleasing touch. On the other end of the spectrum, there are particular titles in Australian literature that only appeals to Aussies (and no one else). It must be something that has been seen in the bush, which will constitute the fabric of our very own Aussie psyche. It deserves another module.

Whether you're studying the popular authors in Modern literature or analyse a least-known literary genre, you'll be aware of common themes after several chapters. It should make paper writing easier, but it will depend on other factors. (Your comprehension will be one of those things.) What can be next?

What Сan Authors Have in Common?

Coming of age. What do "To Kill a Mockingbird", "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", and "His Dark Materials" have in common? The lead character (of these books) are young girls on the cusp of puberty. It's rather a bit too obvious to point out, so there must be another common denominator. A coming-of-age moment, which will change everything.

Love conquers all. It's not too difficult to write about it, but going further can be a daunting task. Some readers may be clueless about it until they put themselves in the author's shoes. How to articulate these feelings, which can be expressed in other ways. (A description of a particular place, where the first kiss unexpectedly happens in an instant, should put more sentiment.) It should be harder if it's recalling that experience while trying to move on from that failed relationship. It may add some spice, though.

Individual against society. Many authors (like Hermann Hesse) see themselves as an outcast of the very place they live in, which gives them an excuse to articulate those strong feelings (or thoughts). It can offend sensibilities, so these feelings (or thoughts) are subtly expressed in a paragraph, if not a single sentence. It may be a satire, if not a fantastic setting. Think of "Gulliver's Travels".

Our worst enemy. Mary Shelley thought of it while writing "Frankenstein". As a matter of fact, this would be the first things that Gothic authors would think (while composing the first few chapters of their draft). They are likely to get away with it, as these so-called undesirable traits would fascinate readers.

Overcoming all odds. Beating the deadline to your (essay) assignment would be a walk in a park compared to the paing that some authors (through their characters) have dealt for years.

Society vs. nature. It must reflect the stubbornness of mankind, of how graceful they become (after admitting it). If some authors are unable to relate to it, then it can be due to one thing (and nothing else). They have grown in the big city, and they have no desire to detach themselves from it. There's nothing profound about it, nothing more (or less) as well.

Good and evil. It must go together, hand in hand, which would be opposite for most readers. It may shock them, but they don't have to feel that way. They need to recall their past, which yields unpleasant truths. The gray area, which separates the two, can be wider than they think.

The nature of crime. Fyodor Dostoyevsky looked at it profoundly, enabling him to think of startling observations of the seemingly unpredictable human nature. Whether you have a record or not, there must be a wrongdoing described in one particular chapter.

That one special person. A real inspiration, if not the reason, for such an existence.

That unforgettable experience. It must be shared with everyone, if not discussed it. This should impart moral lessons.

How to Analyse It

Literary criticism doesn't prompt you to repeat those lines that allude to a particular theme. Can you relate to it? If your answer is in the negative, then think of other aspects of the books that you can discuss (in your essay). Try to draw from your own personal experiences, even if there seems to be a chasm between you and the author. There's something there, somewhere between the lines.

If you rather choose current events, then prepare for a longer essay. If you can't do it persuasively, then look at recent happenings. Is it good enough? If it is so, then good luck.

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