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What does the "central idea" mean in literature?

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sanjiwan | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted December 17, 2008 at 11:12 AM via web

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What does the "central idea" mean in literature?

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beingepic | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 18, 2013 at 3:06 AM (Answer #3)

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cheese that what it means cheese

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taishareah4801829949 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 3, 2014 at 2:51 PM (Answer #6)

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i think central idea is a nother thing like main idea the main thing

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maria-vivanco | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted July 28, 2014 at 10:52 PM (Answer #5)

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Central idea is the main theme or idea that the story revolves around. its the focus and a lesson that the author is trying to convey or a topic. 

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melissa1106 | TA , Grade 11 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted September 23, 2014 at 11:08 PM (Answer #7)

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The central idea is the main focus on the work of literature. Most of the time it is the main conflict of the story or the main idea or in other words theme being portrayed through the story. there can be several ways to interpret the main focus of a work.

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zumba96 | TA , Grade 11 | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted November 27, 2014 at 3:19 AM (Answer #8)

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A central idea in literature can revolve around the main idea or a theme found within the piece. Just like all pieces, a central theme is found in each and every one. For example, in Oedipus a central idea could be how one cannot escape their own fate no matter how hard they try. Another for Hamlet could be how conforming to society and inward struggle could be the end of you

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anzio45 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted December 17, 2008 at 11:14 PM (Answer #1)

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'Central idea' is just another way of describing the main thought or principal theme of a work of literature. Of course what one person sees as the central idea in a particular play or novel or poem many not be the same as someone else's but that is part of the enjoyment of literary discussion and argument. For example, many see the central idea of King Lear as old age and the frustrating powerlessness that can bring. Others see it a little differently: a once-powerful human being is stripped of everything and left exposed to the wind and weather on a wild moor. In both cases something about the truth of human existence is expressed but with a different emphasis. Many great works produce varying versions of the central idea e.g Hamlet, The Great Gatsby. My advice would be not to worry about it too much. Every reader brings something of herself or himself to the literature and that is bound to affect how we take it in. Just be prepared to defend your ideas by showing that you have read or watched carefully and can provide evidence from the text to support your interpretation. Good luck with your future reading. 

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silversinger | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted December 20, 2008 at 1:18 AM (Answer #2)

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In literature, the "central idea" is a another way of saying "theme." A theme is the focus, the lesson or the moral learned in a given piece of literature.  If you want to compare it to  Disney Land, the central idea or theme is that of cartoon characters...however, the central theme of a story is like that of The Three Little Pigs; never build your house out of straw, be sure it has a solid foundation.

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