When you focus on a theme within a text, expand your exploration beyond simply identifying main themes, like hate, family, relationships, power. Instead look at how themes relate to each other, by exploring conflicting ideas and the clash of opposites at the heart of them. For example:
An interesting theme involves a clash of opposites. Love as a theme is more interesting when there is conflict. If two people meet, fall in love and there are no problems, then it is not a very interesting story. Without something trying to stop love, the story has nowhere to go.
You can give structure and energy to an analysis essay by discussing the opposite sides of a theme.
The following extract is taken from a short story called Your Shoes by Michelle Roberts:
Your father didn’t mean it when he told you those things the other night. You’ve got to understand, he lost his temper and used some unfortunate expressions. At your age I’m sure I wouldn’t have known the meaning of any of those words. As a young girl I’d have been hit if I used such language as I’ve heard you use. I was very old-fashioned. Square, they called it then. I grew up in a very old fashioned family. Of course we had a marvellous time together, but my father was very strict. It didn’t do me any harm.
Your Shoes, Michelle Roberts
This extract suggests some interesting, contrasting themes: