Themes in Literature

Themes in Literature


It is often argued that every piece of literature is a work of art. This is mostly true taking into account the fact that art pieces work to communicate a hidden/open message to the human population. The messages conveyed in these art pieces are known as themes. A designated art piece is deemed successful if the theme is something that the targeted population can significantly relate to, commonly used ones include love, leadership, friendship and so forth.


The following paper aims to discuss a known theme through the eyes of two different works of art. The literature chosen include Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market which is a poem and 1984 by George Orwell, which is a book. The two works of art are all comprised of many subthemes, but one seems to stand out the most, this is the theme of giving in to lustful desires and their problems/benefits. Human beings are by no means perfect and are hence prone to a lot of mistakes. The pieces of literature go on to showcase how this is the case by touching on the two protagonists and how lustful desires led to their eventual fates. Prior to discussing the theme from the perspectives of the works of art, comparisons will be made and finally a conclusion on which best portrayed the theme will be reached.
In addition to the above pieces of work, the discussion will also borrow from extensive peer-reviewed journals which cover the topic of themes in literature and other works of art. The articles will provide worthwhile insight on what it means to represent a theme accurately in a said piece of art


Themes, as already explained above, refer to the overall subject that a piece of art is talking about. Themes are of different types, but they must all relate to human life and its various implications. This is obvious since a given work of art is written primarily for a human audience or human listeners in the case of live performance. The following portion discusses the theme of giving in into sensory longings from the perspective of the two works of art in question. The texts will be addressed separately and later on; a comparison will be made on how effectively each art piece represented the theme.

Goblin Market

Goblin market refers to a piece of poetry written by Christina Rossetti. The poem itself revolves around two sisters and the troubles they went through as a result of one of them actually consuming a fruit from the Goblin marketplace. The use of fictional characters coherently classifies the text to be that of the fictional genre. It is not the Goblins alone that are fictional, but the sisters themselves since the poem describe Laura, the sister who consumed the fruit, as having hair made of gold. In fact, the goblins accepted a piece of her hair as currency when she revealed that she had no money to purchase the fruit. Lizzie is the name of the other sister.
The poem begins with shouts from the nearby Goblin market which entices Laura to go and satisfy here elevating levels of curiosity. Upon reaching the market, Goblin men lure her with some sweet looking fruits. After revealing that she had no currency whatsoever to purchase them, the goblin men propose that she offers them a piece of her golden hair, a deal she promptly accepts. Laura begins to waste away as soon as she consumes the fruit. It was as if it had life-sucking and aging properties. Lizzie is in turn worried about her sister and her current state; she decides to go to the market and investigate the matter. Shortly after reaching the marketplace, she is greeted with the goblins who force her to eat the fruit. The goblins even go to the extent of trying to shove it down her mouth, but she promptly stands her ground. The result is a mess of goblin fruit juice all over her face. Lizzie runs home and lets Laura kiss the juice off her sister’s cheeks. Laura is miraculously healed. The poem’s elements including plot, character, and others, show without a doubt that it is of a fantasy based genre. Works of art which feature supernatural references act as entertainment tropes and dramatically allows a person to look at the world from a variety of different perspectives. Open-mindedness is hence emphasized.
Having briefly described the plot, the next step would be to discuss how it relates to the theme in question. Sensory longings can be defined as bodily desires, i.e., those desires and feelings of attraction which are enticed by the five sensory organs. For example, Laura was enticed to the fruit by its sweet and juicy look.
The sense of sight is hence responsible for the longing of the fruit. The fact that the fruit caused Laura to waste away slowly shows the negative implications of sensory longings. They have a tendency of impeding reason, and one indulges in an act without stopping to think about the various consequences involved. Laura, for example, was blinded by the juiciness and the attractiveness of the fruits.
She did not stop to think about why the goblin men would be so persuasive and even accept hair as currency. The attractiveness of the fruits was calling out to her, and she did not stop to abandoned all forms of reasoning and logic. Such are the bad sides of giving in to sensory desires. Laura soon found out the importance of reasoning when she immediately began wasting away. The author hence used this as a beacon to human beings that they should always incorporate logic and never hesitate to ask questions on entities which are highly questionable and may serve to have future implications. The goblins worked to use the concept of sensory desires to their advantage and Laura suffered terribly. On the plus side, it is important to note that the idea of sensory longings is also characterized by a lot of benefits by far. The poem also attests to this fact. The next portion will discuss on the positive side of sensory longings and explain how it has been incorporated into the text.

Lizzie is characterized by a considerable degree of concern over her sister as shown in the text. The first instance where the fact is confirmed is when she warns her sister not to go near the goblin market and to ignore the enticements of the goblin. Lizzie is aware of the fact that when something seems to good, think twice before indulging in it. Her sister chooses to ignore her warnings, and she ends up paying dearly. Lizzie, armed with the love and the passion for her sister, sets out to see how her ailment can be reversed. Her will and determination can be summarized as part of her sensory longing to help her sister. The reason as to why the determination to help her sister is classified as a sensory longing is mainly because she is determined at all costs. She is not open to the fact that she may also suffer the same fate her sister.
Her longings made her return home with a cure for her sister who was slowly wasting away. This characterizes the good side of having sensory longings. They prompt someone to show a significant degree of will and determination toward the entity they ever so need. The will and determination may make a person achieve their overall goals and dreams. In the event that they fail to do so, (achieve) the longings will prompt them to work harder and will maintain their sheer determination . This is hence the essence of having sensory longings; it can be described as a double-edged sword characterized by both benefits and disadvantages. The goblins also had a sensory longing of enticing Laura to eat the fruits. The sensory longings made them go to all lengths to make her consume it. Their plan was successful, and she ultimately ended up doing so. Their display of sensory longings gave them the determination and willpower needed to convince Laura to eat the fruit. They also displayed a considerable degree of determination in the process of trying to entice Lizzie into eating the fruit. Their efforts were futile and in a real sense backfired.
In conclusion, it can be argued that the poem sensible represented the theme of Sensory Longings and their various implications to precision. This is mainly due to the fact that it showcases the themes from both the protagonists and the antagonist’s side. Such is the basis of a well fleshed out theme . Both these conflicting parties used sensory longings to achieve what they want. The next text which is 1984 by George Orwell also goes hand in hand to depict the theme of giving in to sensory belongings.

The text 1984 by George Orwell is also of the fictional genre. It differs from the poem Goblin Market in that it does not feature supernatural elements. It depicts the society of today and how it would have fared if it was under the control of an overall party that wishes to exercise complete dominance over the masses and population. The plot centers around Winston Smith who is described as a low-ranking member of the Party. The Party refers to a dictatorship based government which serves to watch every move of its subjects, therefore, countering any acts of rebellion against it as the overall ruling party. Winston works for the party at the ministry of truth; his primary role is to alter historical records such that they go hand in hand with the needs of the party.
Winston hates the party and its overall control over the people. He purchases a diary where he records his thoughts on the party, an act that is strongly prohibited. He befriends a person named O’Brien who is a high-ranking member of the party. Winston believes that O’ Brien is working undercover with the Brotherhood, a secret organization which works to overthrow the party. He thinks that the best ally is that whom he shares interests with.
One day while working in the ministry, she catches a girl staring at him, Winston is at first suspicious thinking that the girl may be a spy sent to investigate his secret practices. The girl, later on, confesses to loving him, and he arranges a secret place for them to be alone. They begin secretly seeing each other and Winston has a feeling that their relationship will soon be discovered and be prohibited. O’Brien calls Winston to meet him on one occasion. Winston goes together with Julia to O’Brien’s apartment where he is offered a copy of the Brotherhood’s manifesto.
Winston is now one hundred percent convinced that O’Brien is a secret member of the brotherhood. This is proven to be false moments later when a barricade of soldiers moves in and arrest the couple. It is believed that O’Brien was still a faithful member of the party and was working undercover to bring Winston to ‘justice.’ Winston and Julia are promptly separated, with Winston being taken to the ministry of love, a torture center designs to influence a person’s belief and opinions. Winston is tortured until his mindset becomes considerably altered. He now detests the brotherhood and vows to serve the party.
The theme regarding sensory longings and its various implications is very well represented as per the above text. Winston has the longing of seeing the reign of the party come to a complete stop and being part of a society, which is free to express its opinions and beliefs. The implications as a result of this longing are very many, and they are seen toward the end of the book. Similar to the poem, Winston throws reason out the window, and he willingly believes that O’Brien is a member of the brotherhood. He considers this to be so in spite of never doing anything that reveals he is infect tied to the brotherhood. He goes on to disclose all of his secrets to him including his forbidden affair with Julia. The sensory longing was blinding him to the obvious truth that the Party had a large number of supporters and that having one to pose as an undercover member of the party is highly probable. As a result, he paid dearly.
The overall conclusion of the narrative showcases the negative implications of having sensory longings; they make you blind to reason. Julia’s overall attraction toward a member of the resisting party also blinded her to the fact that she will suffer the same fate as Winston in the event that they are found out. She suffered terribly, and her only mistake was falling in love. Having a sensory longing breeds determination, but in an instance, such as the one above, where a single person is against an overall ruling party, showcasing the commitment is not the best option. Winston learned this the hard way when he was subjected to increased amounts of torture in order to change his mindset. In the end, his sensory longings caused him nothing but problems as opposed to the original poem where the longings allowed the Lizzie to find a cure for her ailing sister. The author has hence portrayed the implications of having sensory longings in a negative manner. Winston’s love for Julia also forms part of his sensory longings which work hand to put him into hot soup with the party.


It can be argued that the above works of art all worked to propagate the theme effectively. 1984 by George Orwell used the mechanics of plotting and storytelling to propagate the theme. His overall negative side to the theme is represented in the fact that the book ends tragically. Upon reading the book, one cannot fail to note the fact that following one’s longings blindly can lead to a lot of problems more so if the sensory longings work against an overall superior group. The poem by Christina Rossetti can be concluded to have depicted the theme in the most precise manner possible. This is due to the apparent fact that it showcases the issue of following one’s sensory longings from two different perspectives, one positive and another negative. It covers more on the theme when compared to the text.


Themes, as already seen above all have messages for the human audience. The messages apply regardless of the genre of the work of art, as already explained above. An author is said to have successfully represented a theme if he or she covers the negative as well as positive implications of the theme itself . The audience may be able to relate to it more as it presents a more rounded approach. All in all, the themes have been represented to their full potential as per these two works of art.

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