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180 Examples of Literary Themes

 , April 10, 2023
A literary theme is the central topic and message of a story. These are recurring or underlying ideas that can be conveyed through any element of storytelling such as plot, dialog, characters, metaphor and imagery. It is common for a single story to have many themes. Literary themes can be simplistic, obvious and cliche such as a good vs evil story where the good person predictably wins. Literary themes can also involve great complexity such as paradoxes, grey areas and questions that are difficult to answer. The following are common literary themes.
Absurdity and Irony
Alienation and Isolation
Alternate Realities
Ambiguity of the Hero and Villain
American Dream
Appearance and Identity
Appearance vs Reality
Atonement and Forgiveness
Beauty and Aesthetics
Betrayal and Deception
Bravery
Change vs Tradition
Childhood
Class Struggle
Comedy and Tragedy
Coming of Age
Coming to Terms
Complexity of Human Relationships
Conflict and Reconciliation
Consequences of Actions
Corrupt System
Cost of Ambition
Cost of Conformity
Cost of Passion
Cost of Progress
Cost of Revenge
Courage and Cowardice
Courage and Perseverance
Deception
Despair and Hope
Disillusionment and Disenchantment
Displacement and Dislocation
Dreams and Reality
Duty and Honor
Dystopian Society
Emptiness and Nothingness
Estrangement
Existential Angst
Exploration
Faith and Doubt
Family and Loyalty
Fate, Destiny and Chance
Fight for Justice
Forbidden Love
Forgiveness
Freedom and Restraint
Future Shock
Future of Humanity
Good vs Evil
Greed and Ambition
Hard Work Pays Off
Hero's Journey
Honor and Dishonor
Human Condition
Human Emotions
Human Limits
Hypocrisy
Identity and Belonging
Identity and Self-Discovery
Immigration and Identity
Individualism and Conformity
Inevitable Fate
Inner Conflict
Inner Demons
Innocence and Experience
Jealousy and Envy
Journey Home
Journey of Self-Discovery
Journey of Self-Discovery
Justice and Revenge
Law and Injustice
Life of the Outcasts
Life's Challenges
Likable Bad Guys
Limits of Knowledge
Limits of Knowledge
Loneliness and Solitude
Love
Love and Loss
Love and Romance
Loyalty
Madness and Sanity
Man vs Nature
Masculinity and Femininity
Memory and Nostalgia
Mind Control
Moral Ambiguity
Mortality
Mysticism and the Occult
Nature and Spirituality
Nature of Beauty
Nature of Desire
Nature of Evil
Nature of Memory
Nature of Power
Nature of Reality
Nature of Time
Nature of War
Nature of the Hero
Nihilism and Absurdity
Outcasts as Heroes
Overcoming Adversity
Overcoming Fears
Paradox of Freedom
Parenting and Childhood
Personal Growth
Personal Transformation
Power Struggle
Power and Corruption
Power of Hope
Power of Tradition
Power of the Imagination
Power of the Individual
Quest for Knowledge
Quest for Perfection
Racism and Prejudice
Rags to Riches
Reason vs Emotion
Rebel Without a Cause
Rebellion
Redemption
Religion and Spirituality
Revenge and Retribution
Role of Family
Role of the Artist
Romantic Tragedy
Rural vs City Life
Search for Identity
Search for Justice
Search for Meaning
Search for Purpose
Search for Truth
Shame and Guilt
Social Criticism
Social Injustice
Society's Expectations
Spiritual Awakening
Stoicism
Strength and Weakness
Struggle for Authenticity
Struggle for Freedom
Struggle for Individuality and Self-Expression
Struggle for Popularity
Struggle for Social Status
Struggle for Survival
Struggles of Poverty
Surrealism and Fantasy
Surveillance State
Survival of Love
Survival of the Fittest
The American Dream
The Antihero
The Complexity of Human Relationships
The Cost of Ambition
The Cost of Betrayal
The Cost of Revenge
The Fall from Grace
The Fragility of Life
The Human Condition
The Human Experience
The Human Psyche
The Illusion of Control
The Illusion of Reality
The Journey Home
The Journey to Self-Confidence
The Meaning of Life
The Outsider
The Power of Words
The Price of Ambition
The Struggle to Belong
The Weight of Responsibility
Time Paradoxes
Tragic Hero
Unrequited Love
Utopia
Value of Friendship
War Stories
War and Peace
Wealth and Poverty
Youth and Aging

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Analogy
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Callback
Character Flaws
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Literary Themes
Literature
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White Rabbit
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