Evaluating Themes from English Literature Readings: Essay Prompts

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  • 0:03 Evaluating Themes
  • 1:03 Prompts
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Instructor: Sharon Linde
Ready to practice what you've learned about English literature? This lesson includes five short-response prompts for you to use to apply your understanding of themes in English literature.

Evaluating Themes

English literature is written in a way that naturally lends itself to thinking about themes. Remember learning about themes? Theme in literature is often referred to as the 'big idea,' one that isn't always super-obvious, though sometimes it can be. Theme is more like an underlying messages from the author.

Think about the children's story Little Red Riding Hood for example. Its literary elements, like plot, characters, and setting are pretty easy to identify. But what's the theme of the story? You could say the 'big idea' is that children should listen to their parents in order to keep themselves safe. After all, there wouldn't even be a story if Little Red had done that to begin with and just stayed on the main path.

You could also argue that the story's theme is 'trust your gut instinct.' Remember how Little Red felt something was off when she was walking in the woods, and that her grandmother seemed a bit odd, too? Both of these themes are present, so in a way, both are also correct. We prove their validity by referring to the text.

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