Universal themes in literature are common ideas that appear in plays, poems and stories – even though they were written decades or even centuries apart. Plays written thousands of years ago by the Greek playwrights Aeschylus and Sophocles have themes that are virtually identical to themes that appear in literature from modern times, and just about every literary work includes some of these timeless ideas.Know More
One of the most common universal themes is the unavoidability of death. The fact that all people are mortal has always been an important idea. It appears in one of the very first works of literature, the epic poem "Gilgamesh," which comes from ancient Mesopotamia, but also in the late 20th century film "Death Becomes Her."
Marriage and love represent another universal theme, and the struggle that each person faces to find a place in society is also a common universal theme. The idea of the hero's quest is just as crucial in Homer's "Odyssey" as it is in the Coen Brothers' film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and the question of morality is important in works spanning from Sophocles' "Antigone" to Donna Tartt's debut novel, "The Secret History." Because all of these ideas are important to humanity, they continue to appear in works of literature.Learn more about Philosophy
In general, the 18 Shakespeare plays commonly classified as comedies share characteristics that include an overarching theme of love culminating in marriage, complex plots with a climax in the third act, cases of mistaken identity and frequent use of clever wordplay. Scholars have not come to a consensus on an exact definition for Shakespearean comedy.Full Answer >
Omar Khayyam was a Persian mathematician, scholar, and astronomer, most famous for his scientific accomplishments and translations of his stories. Khayyam was born on May 18, 1048 and lived until December 4, 1131. Khayyam performed many tasks during his lifetime, but earned a name for himself upon writing a series of poems, referred to in English translations as "The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám".Full Answer >
Jean Jacques Rousseau was a writer, composer and philosopher in the 1700s who had many accomplishments, including publishing works that influence literature, society and politics, creating operas and contributing to music theory. Rousseau's political theories served as catalysts behind both the American and French Revolutions. His writing "Julie, ou la nouvelle Heloise" serves as the precursor to Romanticism in literature and fiction.Full Answer >
According to Professor Paul Brians of Washington State University, realism in literature was a movement that, in reaction to Romanticism, focused on the real world and familiar kinds of characters as opposed to the fantastical or supernatural. Naturalism was a later extension of realism marked by a pessimistic attitude towards humanity and an attempt to apply the scientific method to the writing of fiction.Full Answer >