Writing a Thematic Essay

Writing a Thematic Essay

Main points

  • Theme
  • Plot
  • Illustrations
  • Conclusion


In order to write a thematic essay on a written or visual text you have to have a working understanding of the concept of “theme”. The theme of a text is the underlying idea or message the text is attempting to convey. Ask yourself “What is the purpose of this text?” or “Is there a more universal message running throughout the plot?” Is the author or director making a statement about the human condition? Writing a response essay about the theme of a piece of work involves “reading between the lines” and commenting on what the reader or viewer is left thinking about after he or she has interacted with the text.

Prior to writing a thematic essay, begin by focusing on a couple of prevalent main ideas in the text that are woven throughout the work. These can be rather large universal truths such as intergenerational conflict, identity, hope, chaos/order, coming of age, disillusionment and dreams, and so on. Find an idea that can apply to any text, situation, or people group.

State the theme generally in the introduction of the Thematic essay and explain its significance. This thesis statement shows the reader what you intend to prove. It should be a brief statement of no more than 2-3 sentences. You will develop your ideas further during the course of your writing.

Once you have located the purpose of the text consider how it is handled in your essay. In your body paragraphs, give examples of how the theme is shown within the text or how it is applied. Examine the plot, scenes, and characters and extract several solid illustrations. Provide a summary of relevant events and also include an explanation and analysis of the examples. You may want to research literary commentaries on the work as well. Be sure to paraphrase or correctly cite direct quotes. End each paragraph with a closing sentence that ties together your points. Remember to include transitions between paragraphs to ensure a smooth and logical flow of ideas.

The conclusion of your essay should reiterate your main points, restating them in a unique way. Include an evaluation of the text including your own thoughts. How did the piece affect you? Finish by leaving the reader with a profound statement or question to ponder.


Leave a Reply