Whenever we start reading a story or any other form of literature, the first thing that we notice is its topic on which it is written and the last thing we recognize is its theme, i.e. what’s the main point around which the story is structured.
There are many who believe that topic and theme are one and the same thing. But this is not true, a topic is the main title, usually, written as a heading of the work. It is something which is described, explained or narrated through the story, essay or report.
On the contrary, theme refers to the salient hidden message or idea that the literary work of the author attempts to explore. It acts as a foundation of the entire story. It reflects the writer’s view or opinion on something, which is envisioned in the work. Let’s move further to talk about the difference between theme and topic.
Content: Theme Vs Topic
|Basis for Comparison||Theme||Topic|
|Meaning||The theme is the underlying meaning or the point on which the entire work is based that the author wants to convey to the readers.||Topic refers to the word or sentence, which states the main subject of the work, i.e. the one with which the entire work is related.|
|What is it?||An abstract message which is imparted through the work.||The main subject of the literary work.|
|Function||Specifies what the story conveys.||Specifies what the story is all about.|
Definition of Theme
The theme can be understood as the idea or subject-matter, around which the entire story revolves and can be expressed in a single word such as love, betrayal, happiness, honesty, bravery, hard work, etc. It is the hidden message or the bottom line of a literary work, which is presented impliedly, instead of stating explicitly.
A literary work can contain multiple themes. Themes are based on classical or cross-culturally acceptable ideas, such as questions relating to ethics and morals.
One can identify the theme of the work, on the basis of its characters, plot, dialogue, setting (location), conflict (struggle encountered by the main lead) or combination thereof. Themes are universal in the sense that it is not applicable to a single case, rather it can be applied in a pervasive way.
Further, themes are categorized into thematic concepts and thematic statements. Thematic concepts are the overall concept, which reflects the view of the readers about the work, i.e. what they think the work is about, hence, it is conditional to the readers. On the contrary, the thematic statement describes what the literary work states about the topic, which the writer explains.
Definition of Topic
Topic refers to the main subject of discussion in the literary work. It is the phrase or word which the writer talks or writes about in the essay, story or speech. It is the focus, which regulates the direction of our literature. Basically, the article, essay or story is the explanation of the topic on which they are written. It can be an issue, idea, principle or question which the rest of the text explains.
The topic is the highlight, which tells you what the material contains, as the topic is always related to the content and plot. It is clearly mentioned in any script, to reflect the primary focus of any piece of writing.
Topics should be unique, simple and interesting so that it can draw the attention of the reader. Many writers pick the topics which are very common and relatable so that the readers can associate with it easily, while others go for the topics which are rare. In short, we can say that the writer chooses a topic that enables the reader to have a quick and rough idea of the literature, depending on the audience he/she wants to target.
Key Differences Between Theme and Topic
The points given below are substantial so far as the difference between theme and topic is concerned:
- The topic is nothing but the main subject of the story which the writer discusses or talks about in the work. On the contrary, the theme is the abstract or controlling idea of the literary work, which the author wants to convey with the help of the story or essay.
- The theme is universal in nature, i.e. theme contains a message, which is not just applicable in one case, rather, it is applicable in many circumstances. Conversely, the topic is unique, in the sense that the writer makes thorough research before choosing any topic, so as to come up with a distinctive topic, which the readers are curious to read.
- The theme can be described as the hidden message which is pervaded through the work. In contrast, topic determines the main title or subject of the work, which is picked by the reader, keeping in mind the reader’s interest and their attention.
- Theme specifies what the writer of the story or essay wants to convey to its audience with the help of the material. As against, topic specifies what the story or essay is all about.
- The theme is inherent in the story, which the reader has to understand, as it is not directly stated, but the entire story revolves around it. On the other hand, the topic is clearly mentioned at the top of the work, to grab the attention of the readers, as well as give them an idea about the story.
While topics are expressly stated in any essay, report, story or novel, themes are not directly stated, rather, they are assumed by the readers, from the work as it is easily recognizable. In a nutshell, we can say that topic is the issue or any subject which is being discussed in the material, whereas theme is the basic message or perception behind the entire piece of writing.