What is a theme and why is it important?
Reading a book is about what happens (the plot) and who it happens to (the characters).
We might also think about where and when the story takes place (the setting and context).
Sometimes we also notice that the story seems to be about a subject, for example, the problems characters have because they are very poor, or it might even have a message, such as: 'it is good to care for the poor'. We call these the ideas of the book, or the themes.
Themes tend to be the topics that we, as readers, can relate to in one way or another. They are the 'stuff of real life' such as loneliness or courage, or how acts of good and evil affect us.
Writers tend to write about the issues they know about, either because of events in their own lives, or what they notice and feel about the world around them.
As a woman living in Regency England (more of that when we look at context), Jane Austen wrote about the issues she was most familiar with and explored her own thoughts and ideas on the topics that affected her, and those around her.
In this activity, we will identify the themes of the novel.
You should always refer to your own copy of the book when working through the activities. The quotations are for reference only.