Right now, I'm just brainstorming what would be on my In-Class Essay test. Do you guys have any ideas (Maybe I'll get a few specifics later on--the test is 2 weeks away)? Thanks!
To assist you in determining what themes are prevalent in the literature you have read in your class, the analyses of the main characters from these narratives often are the tools by which the author develops his/her theme(s).
In addition, look for the ephipanies, and/or moral truths that the characters learn in the works that you have read.
Look for connections in the literature pieces you have been reading. For instance, what themes are present in most of those pieces--guilt, ambition, pride, jealousy, appearances vs. reality, revenge, the pursuit of happiness--just take a look and take stock of the similarities in all your readings and class discussions. Jot down some notes to get you thinking and making connections for that essay. You might also want to think of some examples from songs, movies, other books you've read, or popular culture to help you make your argument.
What have been the overall themes of your class? For instance, an American Lit class I'm co-teaching right now has a running theme of the American Dream, and whether it is still, or ever has been, attainable. The other books you have read and discussed in class should give you a clue. Look back in your class notes; if there is a common thread, you will undoubtedly be looking at something similar in your essay topic. Then you can better prepare.
I would think the most weight would be on overall themes or important passages that are revealing of characters, situations, and events. Try to think of overall messages that the characters reveal and how interrelated the events of the story have become.