Every type of essay requires a different set of skills on your part, as all of them serve a different purpose. And yet no matter the goal, whenever you’re writing an essay, you should always conduct proper research and pay close attention even to the tiniest of details. The latter statement is especially true for thematic essays.

What Is a Thematic Essay?

A thematic essay is a writing assignment dedicated to a specific theme that plays an important role either in a literary piece or a work of art. Sometimes, a single essay can be dedicated to several themes, if they are closely tied to each other. When making a thematic essay, you should both prove the existence of a particular theme and explain its significance in the context of the book itself and on a grander scale.

Additionally, you are required to convey your own understanding of the theme and back it up with arguments and examples, taken from the text. It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t rely on using direct quotes from the book as proof, but should instead give preference to the analysis of literary devices that serve to develop the theme mentioned in your thesis statement.

To raise the quality of your essay even higher, try to create a text that can provoke a discussion with the reader while remaining objective in your interpretation of the literary work.

Thematic Essay Topic Ideas

Choosing a topic for a thematic essay is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s easy because you can write such an essay about any literary piece you like. And since you already know a lot about it, the analysis process shouldn’t be too complicated. On the other hand, picking a theme from that book can be a lot more challenging, as it isn’t always that simple to understand what a literary work is really all about.

In case you’re struggling with coming up with ideas yourself, here’s a list of potential thematic essay topics that will give you the creative push you need to start writing:

  • How is the theme of Christianity unveiled in Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose”?
  • How does Ernest Hemingway show that struggle and defeat can be honorable in the “Old Man and the Sea”?
  • What tools does Jerome Salinger use to depict alienation as a mean of self-protection in “Catcher in the Rye”?
  • What is the main idea behind Charles Dickens using the three spirits in “A Christmas Carol”?
  • What is Joseph Heller saying about the absurdity of war in “Catch-22”?
  • How is Herman Melville trying to show the danger of monomaniacal ideas in “Moby-Dick”?
  • How does Jack London develop the theme of writing in his “Martin Eden” novel?
  • What is Emily Bronte saying about the destructive nature of love in “Wuthering Heights”?
  • How does Fyodor Dostoyevsky depict the psychology of a murderer in “Crime and Punishment”?
  • What does William Golding is trying to show about civilization in his “Lord of the Flies” novel?
  • How is the fear of mortality shown in Albert Camus’ “The Plague”?

Thematic Essay Outline

Before you can begin writing your thematic essay, it’s recommended that you first create an outline. It’s needed to help you transform your sporadic chains of thought into logically-structured sentences that all serve the same purpose – supporting your thesis statement.

You can start by organizing a brainstorming session to note down all the ideas you have regarding your chosen theme. Once you’ve completed this task, think carefully about what information you want to convey with your piece. Now, it’s time to plan out the structure of your essay to figure out the order in which you’ll present your arguments.

A traditional thematic essay shares the same structure as most writing assignments and consists of an introduction, the main body, and the conclusion. When creating an outline, you have to clearly understand what you’re going to say in which part:

  • The introduction serves to acquaint the reader with your topic and thesis statement.
  • The essay body provides arguments that prove the validity of your main idea.
  • The conclusion offers a summary of all the information presented above.

Thematic Essay Introduction

When you start writing the introductory part of your essay, you should present the information in a manner as if the reader has never heard anything about your topic before. This is the place where you acquaint him with the writer, his work, and present your thesis statement. It’s also recommended to write the first sentence of your essay in such a way that it “hooks” the reader with an interesting fact or intriguing promise about your topic.

Here’s a set of questions you can ask yourself to get a better idea of what to write about in the introduction:

  • What literary work are you writing about?
  • What do you know about the author of this piece?
  • What genre does this literary work belong to?
  • What is the theme or themes that you want to analyze in your essay?

The last sentence of the introduction should be the thesis statement, which is a single thought that contains the main idea of your essay and the description of the theme itself.

Thematic Essay Body Paragraphs

Once you’ve written the introduction, it’s time to support your thesis statement. As mentioned above, the main body of the essay should consist of at least three paragraphs, each conveying a new argument, but with all of them tied to the main idea of your work.

When planning the order of your arguments in the main body of your essay, you should also think about how to create logical transitions between them so that your work has a unified look.

After you’ve presented an argument, you should support it by explaining your reasoning and providing examples taken from the text. Here, you can either add direct quotes or list what literary devices were used to develop the theme you’re writing about.

Remember: It’s better to find literary tools to back up your thesis statement, as the use of devices is a better proof of the author’s intention than a random dialogue line dropped by a secondary character.

Thematic Essay Conclusion

The conclusion of your essay is a summary of all the arguments and thoughts that you’ve written in the body of the text. You should present them in such a way that their role in supporting the main idea of your essay is obvious to the reader. This is also the place where you rephrase and reiterate your thesis statement.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t provide any new information in the conclusion, but only facts that you have already included in the essay body. Another recommendation is to write the final sentence in such a manner that it prompts the reader to find out more about your topic.

Once you’ve written the conclusion of your thematic essay, it’s time to revise and proofread your work before submitting it to your teacher or professor.

Thematic Essay Examples

In order to better understand how a thematic essay should look like, let’s imagine that you were assigned the following topic: “The Theme of Reputation in Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice”” In the first sentence of such an essay, you might want to surprise the reader with the thought that despite the common perception, you consider reputation to be the central theme of the novel and not love. Your thesis statement can convey the same idea.

The main body of this essay would include several arguments that support that statement. For example, you might note that during the time depicted in the novel, a woman’s reputation was considered to be her most valuable asset, while the content of her character was oftentimes overlooked. And as a result of such values, any changes in her social role were frowned upon both by family members and society as a whole. As proof, you could bring up the fact how Elizabeth’s reputation suffered because of her sister’s Lydia wrongdoings, and how she herself was misjudged by several characters because of her refusal to follow standard gender roles.

The conclusion to such an essay would reiterate the thesis statement and note that in today’s society a woman’s reputation isn’t judged as harshly as it was back then.

Another example of a thematic essay may be one dedicated to the theme of censorship in Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”. In this case, the thesis statement would contain the thought that the danger of censorship is the central idea of Bradbury’s dystopian novel. The main argument that would support that thesis is the book burning occurring throughout the story, which symbolizes the destruction of free speech. The second point you could make is that censorship was also present in television programs that dictated how the population should perceive reality.

In the conclusion of such an essay, you could state that this theme is still a relevant warning regarding the present-day tendency towards censorship in different kinds of media.

Examples of Thematic Essay on StudyMoose

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