Why are Themes Important?

Understanding why themes are important in poetry is quite simple. Without a theme, there may be nothing for the reader to connect to. They provide the backbone a story is structured around.

Themes are the thing that appears over and over again throughout the poem (or any other literary work). It should resonate with the reader and perhaps even teach them something as well, such as a moral lesson.

Consider, for example, what the poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge would be without the themes of retribution and penance. The mariner commits a sin against God (killing the albatross). He’s then at the receiving end of a great deal of misery. He spends his life trying to make up for this one sin and sees much horror in the process. Even through the telling of his story, the Mariner is engaging with the theme. He’s using his own life as a cautionary tale to warn other people about doing wrong to any of God’s creatures, or more broadly, doing anything to anger God.

Why should you understand the theme?

Themes are themselves important when it comes to the narrative of the story. But why should you take the time to understand them? Well, if you have a vested interest in figuring out why a writer wrote a particular poem or what they intended to accomplish with it, it’s important to figure out the theme. You will be left directionless when analyzing a poetic work if you don’t. Although sometimes it might be tricky trying to figure out what themes the author is interested in, it’s certainly worth it.

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