Exploring the Top 5 Common Themes in Literature

Discover what five of the top recurring themes are in literature and why these topics have been prevalent for decades. Learn more about these important common themes used in literature today. 

1. Love

From romantic to familial love, this powerful and complex emotion has been a topic of interest throughout the history of literature.

Love can be interpreted in many different ways and has been written about by authors for centuries. From romantic love between two individuals to selfless familial love, this theme has been incorporated into literature of all times, allowing readers to explore every aspect and emotion it can convey. Furthermore, its many forms can similarly be found within pieces of non-fiction as well.

2. Conflict

From internal struggles to wars between characters and nations, conflict is almost always an essential element in stories.

Conflict provides excitement, tension, and emotional depth to stories and helps create a sense of risk and unpredictability–which keeps readers engaged. Through conflict, authors can explore timeless themes such as the human experience, morality challenges, power struggles, justice, death and destruction–all topics that mirror real life issues. Consequently, it’s no surprise why readers are often drawn to this theme naturally in literature today.

3. Initiation or Coming-of-Age

Many stories involve one’s journey into adulthood and the transformations they experience along the way.

Stories about coming-of-age and initiation– the process of a protagonist growing up and learning about themselves– are a common literary theme. It is what drives the story forward, as the characters make mistakes, learn from their failures, and ultimately come out of the experience changed in some way. It is a theme that resonates with readers, tapping into their own personal experiences of self-discovery. Additionally, this universal topic allows readers to feel an emotional connection to the character’s journey—connecting with its themes of hope, resilience and growth.

4. Good vs Evil

This classic theme often explores inner battles of morality, ethics, motives, and justice versus corruption and evil. 

This age-old literary theme has been prevalent in works ranging from the Bible to Harry Potter. It often evokes strong emotions, as readers can relate to struggling against an inner voice and external influences that fight against doing the right thing. The battle between good and evil is meant to show readers how difficult choices are grappling with the consequences of their actions, no matter who is ultimately victorious in the fight.

5. Redemption

The idea that all can be saved from hardship by courage, faith, or selfless acts of kindness is a core concept seen in many stories today.

This theme appears in different forms and can take on various meanings, depending on the narrative. The notion of heroes being redeemed and growing throughout their journey presents readers with a heartwarming story that still resonates today. It provides hope to those going through struggles, teaching them that even the darkest hours of life can be overcome by doing good to those around you.

Literary themes are recurring topics discussed in pieces of literature throughout the ages. Common literary themes include topics such as love, death, friendship, betrayal, struggle and identity which have been examined through the writings of authors for centuries. Here we take a look at five of the most important themes in literature today.

Explore the power and relevance of these common literary themes and discover how they can shape our understanding of the world around us. Start reading books that explore these themes today and join the conversation on how literature can inspire and enlighten us all.

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