What does the "central idea" mean in literature?

Expert Answers
anzio45 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

'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. 

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

zumba96 | Student

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

maria-vivanco | Student

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. 

melissa1106 | Student

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

silversinger | Student

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.