A Huge List of Common Themes

Literature

Themes in literature are often varied and hidden. Sometimes you can get through an entire book and not realize what the author meant. However, this is a good basic list that you can build from. Remember that some books have multiple themes.

  • Beauty of simplicity
  • Capitalism – effect on the individual
  • Change of power – necessity
  • Change versus tradition
  • Chaos and order
  • Character – destruction, building up
  • Circle of life
  • Coming of age
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal
  • Companionship as salvation
  • Convention and rebellion
  • Dangers of ignorance
  • Darkness and light
  • Death – inevitable or tragedy
  • Desire to escape
  • Destruction of beauty
  • Disillusionment and dreams
  • Displacement
  • Empowerment
  • Emptiness of attaining false dream
  • Everlasting love
  • Evils of racism
  • Facing darkness
  • Facing reality
  • Fading beauty
  • Faith versus doubt
  • Family – blessing or curse
  • Fate and free will
  • Fear of failure
  • Female roles
  • Fulfillment
  • Good versus bad
  • Greed as downfall
  • Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Hazards of passing judgment
  • Heartbreak of betrayal
  • Heroism – real and perceived
  • Hierarchy in nature
  • Identity crisis
  • Illusion of power
  • Immortality
  • Individual versus society
  • Inner versus outer strength
  • Injustice
  • Isolation
  • Isolationism – hazards
  • Knowledge versus ignorance
  • Loneliness as destructive force
  • Losing hope
  • Loss of innocence
  • Lost honor
  • Lost love
  • Love and sacrifice
  • Man against nature
  • Manipulation
  • Materialism as downfall
  • Motherhood
  • Names – power and significance
  • Nationalism – complications
  • Nature as beauty
  • Necessity of work
  • Oppression of women
  • Optimism – power or folly
  • Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Patriotism – positive side or complications
  • Power and corruption
  • Power of silence
  • Power of tradition
  • Power of wealth
  • Power of words
  • Pride and downfall
  • Progress – real or illusion
  • Quest for discovery
  • Quest for power
  • Rebirth
  • Reunion
  • Role of men
  • Role of Religion – virtue or hypocrisy
  • Role of women
  • Self – inner and outer
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-preservation
  • Self-reliance
  • Social mobility
  • Technology in society – good or bad
  • Temporary nature of physical beauty
  • Temptation and destruction
  • Totalitarianism
  • Vanity as downfall
  • Vulnerability of the meek
  • Vulnerability of the strong
  • War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Will to survive
  • Wisdom of experience
  • Working class struggles
  • Youth and beauty

Movies

Movies generally have one or two themes, but not many more. The themes in movies are often said outright instead of hinted at. Some of the popular themes from movies today include:

  • Abuse of power
  • Arrogance
  • Art
  • Autonomy
  • Beating the odds
  • Beauty
  • Beliefs
  • Betrayal
  • Bible
  • Bravery
  • Celebration
  • Chance
  • Change
  • Chaos and order
  • Children
  • Circle of life
  • Coming of age
  • Common sense
  • Conservation
  • Conspiracy
  • Creation
  • Crime
  • Courage
  • Darkness and lightness
  • Death
  • Dedication
  • Democracy
  • Desire to escape
  • Despair
  • Disillusionment
  • Economics
  • Effects from the past
  • Empowerment
  • Everlasting love
  • Evils by humanity
  • Facing reality
  • Failure
  • Family
  • Fate
  • Fear
  • Feminism
  • Freedom
  • Friendship
  • Future
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender rights
  • God
  • Good vs Evil
  • Government
  • Greed
  • Growing Up
  • Happiness
  • Hate
  • Heritage
  • Hero
  • Heroism
  • Hope
  • Humor
  • Human Nature
  • Identity
  • Ideology
  • Ignorance
  • Illusion of power
  • Individuality
  • Inner peace
  • Innocence
  • Isolation
  • Jealousy
  • Justice
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Law
  • Leadership
  • Liberty
  • Life
  • Logic
  • Losing hope
  • Loss of innocence
  • Lost love
  • Love and sacrifice
  • Loyalty
  • Man vs nature
  • Man vs man
  • Man vs self
  • Man vs machine
  • Mankind
  • Maturity
  • Medicine
  • Mercy
  • Morality
  • Nationalism
  • Nature
  • Necessity
  • Optimism
  • Neglect
  • Normality
  • Opportunity
  • Optimism
  • Overcoming
  • Passion
  • Patience
  • Patriotism
  • Peace
  • Perfection
  • Peer pressure
  • Perseverance
  • Power and corruption
  • Prejudice
  • Pride
  • Progress
  • Purpose
  • Quests
  • Race
  • Reality
  • Redemption
  • Regret
  • Religion
  • Resistance
  • Reunion
  • Revolution
  • Revenge
  • Sanity
  • Secrecy
  • Segregation
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-discipline
  • Simplicity
  • Society
  • Social Construct
  • Solitude
  • Soul
  • Suicide
  • Survival
  • Technology
  • Temptation
  • Time
  • Tolerance
  • Travel
  • Trust
  • Truth
  • Universe
  • Unselfishness
  • Valor
  • Vices
  • Violence
  • Virtue
  • War
  • Waste
  • Wealth
  • Wisdom
  • Willpower
  • Winning and losing
  • Xenophobia
  • Youth

Poetry

Themes in poetry are often quite apparent, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes the theme doesn’t make itself apparent and is instead up to the reader. Reading a poem aloud often helps with understanding the theme. Here are some examples:

  • Adversity
  • Aging
  • America
  • Angels
  • Beauty
  • Birds
  • Change
  • Childhood
  • Comfort after death
  • Courage
  • Death
  • Deception
  • Destiny
  • Dying
  • Depression
  • Dreams
  • Dying
  • Earth
  • Emotions
  • Encouraging
  • Faith
  • Fame
  • Fate
  • Fear
  • Flowers
  • Forgiveness
  • Freedom
  • Friendship
  • Funerals
  • God
  • Gratitude
  • Grief
  • Happiness
  • Hate
  • Heartbreak
  • Heaven
  • Hope
  • Humility
  • Identity
  • Imagination
  • Impossibility
  • Innocence
  • Inner Peace
  • Inspiration
  • Jealousy
  • Joy
  • Justice
  • Knowledge
  • Life
  • Life – purpose of
  • Love
  • Marriage
  • Memories
  • Mountains
  • Mourning
  • Music
  • Nature
  • New Year
  • Not Giving Up
  • Oneness
  • Opportunity
  • Overcoming
  • Pain
  • Patience
  • Peace
  • Prayer
  • Regret
  • Revenge
  • Roses
  • Sadness
  • Simplicity
  • Sin
  • Soul
  • Stars
  • Suffering
  • Sympathy
  • Time
  • Trees
  • Trust
  • Unconditional love
  • War
  • Work

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