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Main Idea and Theme

Grade 8
Aug 30, 2022

There are numerous ways for writers to express their emotions or experiences in the realm of writing.  

Some authors simply use writing to teach readers a lesson or to raise awareness about a particular situation or problem. Most of the time, authors’ stories are long and detailed. 

Though some people desire everything to be discussed in –depth with even the smallest details emphasized, the majority of people would prefer a shorter version that conveys the writer’s message.  

Furthermore, when famous novels written by famous authors, such as Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, are to be included in the primary school literature curriculum, it is not possible to incorporate the novel in its entirety. The length and complexity of literature are difficult for a primary school kid to comprehend. As a result, various techniques are employed to reduce the length of the text. 

The most frequent method is to use an abridged version of the book, which is simply a condensed version of the book that retains the original meaning and content. In other circumstances, a more condensed form is required, which leads us to the main idea and theme


A story’s theme and main idea are critical components. The major distinction between theme and the main idea is that the former is a lesson or moral, whilst the latter informs us about the plot. 

Let us take a deeper look at how they mainly differ from each other. 


The core message or perception that the writer wishes to transmit to the readers is referred to as the theme. In fiction, the subject is not stated explicitly or literally; rather, it is inferred by the author.  

In other words, a theme is not expressed in a book; rather, the reader discovers the theme after reading and comprehending the story. A moral can be used to impart a lesson through a topic. 

 The author’s theme can be extracted from the text and applied to other writings as well. As a result, the theme can be universal and can be applied to everyday life as well. The theme can be described in a single sentence, and in some cases, just one word is enough to convey the idea. 


Theme can be divided into two categories: thematic concept and thematic statement

The thematic concept relates to the reader’s interpretation of the story, whereas the thematic statement refers to what the work says about the subject. 

Keep in mind that a text can have several different subjects. However, in most cases, the central theme is based on a central recurring idea throughout the novel and to extract the theme of a story, we are required to read the entire story.  


  • Shakespeare’s Othello – Jealousy, greed
  • J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series– Love, good versus evil. 
  • F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby – Society and class, love, hope. 
  • Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility – The danger of excessive sensibility. 

Main idea

The overall idea the story puts forth is called its main idea. It tells us what the narrative is about or who the characters are. 

 The plot and characters provide the main idea, which describes the substance and plot details. Identifying a text’s main idea is akin to identifying a passage’s subject. The main idea is usually stated near the opening or end of a paragraph. It gives specific information on the text. 

Here’s the biggest difference between the theme and the main idea

The main idea of a text, unlike the theme, cannot be applied to another text because it comprises distinctive information. The main idea answers the question, “what is the author trying to educate me about the issue, or what does the author want me to know about the topic?” 

Assume you’re writing an essay about the health benefits of exercise, and your key topic is “the various ways in which activities aid your body.” The main idea of an essay is usually stated through the thesis statement.  

Take, for example, the tale of the rabbit and the tortoise, which has the main idea that goes something like this. ” A tortoise challenged a hare to a race.” The tortoise won the race because he persevered and never gave up.” 


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