· LESSON SUMMARY
Many people are scared of reading literature—stories, poems, and plays—especially if they have to answer questions about it, as in a test situation. But now that you know so much about finding an implied main idea, you can also find the theme, or main idea, of a work of literature. This lesson works with poetry to show you how to do it.
Literature (novels, poems, stories, and plays) can be quite intimidating to many readers. In literature, meanings are often implied, and messages and themes are not conveniently housed in a topic sentence. However, no matter what you are reading, you can feel confident that the author has left behind clues that will help you to find the theme (the main idea). As an active reader, you are now well-equipped to read between the lines to find meaning in anything you read.
Throughout these pages, you have spent a great deal of time locating the main ideas in various pieces of writing. Finding the theme of a work of literature is similar to finding the main idea in an article, passage, or memo. Just as the main idea is more than the subject of a given article, passage, or memo, the theme of a work of literature is also more than just its subject: It is what the text says about that subject. Theme, in other words, is the overall message or idea that a work of literature conveys. For example, you can probably figure out from the title that the subject of John Donne’s poem “Death Be Not Proud” is death. However, the theme is not merely “death,” but what the poem says about death, which happens to be that death is a gift if one believes in God.
There isn’t room in this short lesson to look at theme in a short story, novel, or play. So this lesson will introduce you to a few poems. But don’t be frightened: Reading poetry is really just like reading anything else. You just have to read a little more carefully and rely a little more on your sense of observation. You find theme in poetry the same way you do in other kinds of writing: by looking for clues in what happens and in the words the writer uses to describe what happens.
· How Language Conveys Emotion
In addition to conveying a theme, poems also often use language to create a powerful image or emotion. After looking at how poets use language to convey an emotion or a picture, you’ll be ready to put your understanding of the action and the language together to understand the meaning of a poem.
· Action + Language = Theme
In the final poem for today, by American poet Stephen Crane, see if you can determine the theme of the poem by looking at both the action of the poem and its language (diction, style, and tone). As before, begin by reading the poem carefully, first out loud and then with pen in hand.
Reading poetry wasn’t so bad after all, was it? If you are an active reader who is sensitive to the language used by the poet, you can use the clues the poet gives you to help you enjoy the pictures and emotions created through words and understand the poem’s theme. And if you can do this for poems, you can certainly do it for stories, novels, and plays as well.
NB: Tugas Reading Comprehension