What Theme is Not...
A theme is not the same as a main idea. A main idea is just what the story is about. For example: "Two men, whose families have feuded for generations, come face to face and discover a new friendship instead of killing each other." That is a main idea -- not a theme.
A theme is not simply a topic. A topic is an important subject (usually one word) that is presented or revealed within a story. For example: Hate, Friendship, Nature. These are topics -- not themes.
So What is a Theme?
Theme is a significant idea or statement that a story is making about a topic. It focuses on the deeper meaning or message that the reader is driven to consider. The theme often makes a statement about society, human nature, or the human condition. A good work of literature will often have multiple themes.
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Image Credit: Theme by Alvida Biersack from the Noun Project