Posted: September 23rd, 2022
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One common way to approach a literary text is to consider its themes. Broadly speaking, themes are simply important issues that a work explores (e.g., kingship, wealth, national identity, motherhood, war, race, etc.).
A more sophisticated way of talking about a text involves thinking about various thematic statements that underpin a work. While a theme can often be expressed in a single word (“kingship”), a thematic statement describes the text’s attitude toward that particular subject (e.g., Beowulf constructs an ideal king as a stereotypically masculine figure who — while generally fair and generous to his subjects — is valued primarily for his brute strength, physical bravery, and his position within a well-known dynastic lineage comprised of similarly idyllic male warrior gods.)
With the distinction between theme and thematic statement in mind, compose a short response (~250 words or so) in which you identify both a theme (e.g., “nature”) and put forth an interpretive thematic statement of your own (e.g., “This poem seems to suggest that — despite all the trappings of civilization — humanity is often just as brutal as beasts in the forest). Your post should go on to use textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, summaries) to back up your analysis.
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