101 (Literary) Theme of a Story Examples: A Huge List of Common Themes in Literature

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101 (Literary) Theme of a Story Examples: A Huge List of Common Themes in Literature

Theme is an important element of a story after plot, characters, conflict and setting. Either in a work of literature: a short story, novella, novel, or in poetry, contains a theme, termed in simple words as the central idea of the literary work which helps the author to conveys a message.

Difference between plot and theme of a story

Plot of a story

People often get confused between the plot and the theme of a story and if you too then let me tell you, the plot is basically the sequence of events in the story.

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end, containing a rising action, climax, falling action and a resolution which is the basic part of the plot.

Theme of a story

A theme in the literature relates to what a book is about, it is the central idea of the story, it is the belief, the moral lesson, or the message the writer wants to deliver through the story.   

The theme is the underlying message that writers want to convey and there can be one or even multiple themes in a story.

101 Common Literary Themes Examples

The below list of 101 Common literary themes examples are recurring themes in popular work of fiction and has been used as a main, major, or minor themes in popular novels.

Follow the list to choose some of the popular themes for your next work of fiction.

#1 Love

#2 War 

#3 Revenge

#4 Betrayal

#5 Good vs. evil

#6 Redemption

#7 Friendship

#8 Family

#9 Death

#10 Prejudice

#11 Coming of age

#12 Love and Marriage

#13 Forgiveness

#14 Race

#15 Youth

#16 Law and injustice

#17 Inequality

#18 Power

#19 Individual vs. society

#20 Class and Community

#21 Fate

#22 Courage

#23 Rebellion

#24 Humility

#25 Fear

#26 Hate

#27 Violence

#28 Warfare

#29 Tragedy

#30 Money

#31 Greed

#32 Personal development

#33 Oppression

#34 Poverty

#35 Sacrifice

#36 Survival

#37 Hypocrisy

#38 Loss

#39 Stoicism

#40 Religion

#41 Life 

#42 Alienation

#43 Innocence

#44 Woman and s*x

#45 Madness

#46 Free will

#47 Immortality

#48 Crime

#49 Imperialism

#50 Ambitions

#51 Suffering

#52 Education

#53 Time 

#54 Isolation

#55 Moral corruption

#56 Loneliness

#57 Colonialism

#58 Gender

#59 Beauty

#60 Freedom

#61 Gothic elements

#62 Storytelling

#63 Corruption

#64 Growing up

#65 Nature 

#66 Science

#67 Totalitarianism

#68 Repression

#69 Loyalty

#70 Propaganda

#71 Manipulation

#72 Jealousy

#73 Adultery

#74 Desire

#75 Rural vs. city life

#76 Carnal desire

#77 Faith in god

#78 Truth

#79 Surveillance

#80 Morality

#81 Satire and realism

#82 Solitude

#83 Subjectivity

#84 Passion

#85 Progress

#86 Man and the nature

#87 Destiny

#88 Limit of knowledge

#89 Politics

#90 Social position

#91 Honor

#92 Guilt and shame

#93 History

#94 Childhood

#95 Heroism

#96 Honesty

#97 Perseverance

#98 Hard work

#99 Communication

#100 Relationship

#101 Hope

examples of themes in literature
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Examples of Themes in Literature

Below are the examples of literary themes from the popular novels of all time.

1. Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen

Major Themes– Love and marriage, class ,reputation, social status, family.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee

Major Themes- Good vs. evil, coming of ages, small town life, prejudice, racism, social inequality, law and justice.  

3. The Great Gatsby 

By F.Scott Fitzgerald

Major Themes- American dream, power, society and class, love and marriage.

4. Harry Potter

By J. K Rowling 

Major Themes- Death, confronting fear, fate, love, friendship, power, rebel, good vs.evil, courage, humility. 

5. Romeo and Juliet

By William Shakespeare

Major Themes– Love, fate, youth, violence, death, gender, revenge, marriage, hate. 

6. David Copperfield

By Charles Dickens

Major Themes- Good vs. evil, personal development, wealth and class, impartiality in marriage, abuse of the weak.  

7. The Lion the witches and the wardrobe

By C. S Lewis

Minor Themes- Good vs. evil, war, friendship, loyalty, courage, forgiveness, childhood, betrayal, family.

8. War and Peace

By Leo Tolstoy

Major Themes- Warfare, history, patriotism, forgiveness, spirituality, love, family, man and masculinity.

9. The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn

By Mark Twain

Major Themes- Racism, slavery, society, hypocrisy, freedom, superstition, education, empathy, guilt and shame, wealth, honor, religion.

10. Middlemarch

By George Eliot

Major Themes- Marital compatibility, money, community and class, social position, politics, religion, pride and vanity, self discovery.

11. Moby Dick

By Herman Melville

Major Themes- Revenge, limits of knowledge, destiny, religion, nature and man, madness, race, fate and free will.

12. Anna Karenina

By Leo Tolstoy

Themes- Betrayal, hypocrisy, faith, jealousy, family life, marriage, adultery, imperial Russian society, desire, rural vs city life, society and class, carnal desire, passion, progress.

13. 1984

By George Orwell

Themes– Propaganda, totalitarianism ,poverty vs. wealth, independence and identity, Loyalty, technology, class struggle, love and sexuality, liberty and censorship, language, manipulation, repression, rebellion, violence.

14. To the Lighthouse

By Virginia Woolfs

Major Themes- Time, the meaning of life, subjectivity, the nature of art, gender,

15. Wuthering Heights

By Emily Bronte

Major Themes- Love, revenge, class, hate, violence, good and evil, solitude.

16. A handful of dust

By Evelyn Waugh

Major Themes- Love and marriage, adultery, selfishness, money, class and society, morality, satire and realism, religion

17. The heart of the matter

By Graham Greene

Major Themes- Love and marriage, failure, surveillance, Isolation, religion, self-awareness, corruption, suffering

18. Life of Pi

By Yann Martel

Major Themes- Storytelling, religion, nature, wildlife, survival, truth, faith in god, fear, science.

19. Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Bronte

Major Themes- Family, religion , social position, class, love and marriage, gender, beauty, independence, feeling vs. judgment, gothic elements.

20. Heart of darkness

By Joseph Conard

Major Themes- Imperialism, racism, violence, colonialism, exploitation, religion, alienation, moral corruption, loneliness.

21. Mrs. Dalloway

By Virginia Woolf

Major Themes- Time, isolation, communication, death, repression, suffering, society and class.

22. Great Expedition

By Charles Dickens

Major Themes- Crime, class, imperialism, injustice, ambitions, education, family.

23. The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R Tolkien

Major Themes- Friendship, fate, good and evil, religion, free will, loss, courage, power, death and immortality, forgiveness.

24. The Catcher in the Rye

By J.D Salinger

Major Themes– Alienation, innocence, phoniness, angst, growing up, death, love, woman and sex, religion, madness

25. The Faults in our Stars

By John Green

Major Themes- Love, family, life, death, religion, coming of age, friendship, suffering, literature and writing,

26. The Hungers Game

By Suzanne Collins

Major Themes- Friendship, family, class, love, rebellion, starvation, oppression, poverty, self-sacrifice, hypocrisy, appearances, survival, stoicism, loss

Want to learn more about themes then do read this article about 10 most popular literary themes by WritersEdit or this article, a guide on themes for writers by Reedsy.

Neel Rana

About the Author- Neel Rana is a successful short story book author, flash fiction writer, literary enthusiast, entrepreneur and the founder of Pandora Post. Neel holds a degree in BA Honours in English Literature and has been writing since 2017. You can read more about him here