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Theme
Test your English skills in this enjoyable quiz.

Theme

'Theme' is the meaning or message of a literary work. Unlike other forms of writing, poetry, stories and plays never state their themes outright. Instead the reader must pay close attention to language, mood, dialogue, character, plot and any other devices which the writer uses to convey the message. Practise your ability to decipher these messages by trying this quiz. Even if you have not read the text before, pay close attention to the brief passages given in the question and you will be able to decide which theme is conveyed.

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1.
'SHEILA: So nothing really happened. So there's nothing to be sorry for, nothing to learn. We can all go on behaving just as we did.
MRS. BIRLING: Well, why shouldn't we?
SHEILA: I tell you -- whoever that Inspector was, it was anything but a joke. You knew it then. You began to learn something. And now you've stopped. You're ready to go on in the same old way.'
-- Which theme, or themes, are evident in this dialogue between mother and daughter from J.B. Priestley's play, An Inspector Calls?
Class
Gender Conflict
Age and the ability to change
Socialism
Mrs. Birling is happy to go back to her 'same old way', while her daughter is willing to change
2.
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;

-- Which theme is NOT evident in these lines from Gerard Manley Hopkin's poem, 'Pied Beauty'
The natural world
Religion
Beauty in imperfection
Urban v. rural life
3.
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


-- Which theme, or themes, are evident in these lines from Wilfred Owen's poem, 'Dulce et Decorum Est'?
War and suffering
The meaning of patriotism
The glorious nature of battle
All of the above
4.
'Lennie said, "Tell about that place, George."
"I jus' tol' you, jus' las' night."
"Go on -- tell again, George."
"Well, it's ten acres," said George. "got a little win'mill. Got a little shack on it, an' a chicken run. Got a kitchen, orchard, cherries, apples, peaches, 'cots, nuts, got a few berries. They's a place for alfalfa and plenty water to flood it. They's a pig pen---"
"An' rabbits, George."'
-- Which theme, or themes, from John Steinbeck's novel, Of Mice and Men, are reinforced by this dialogue between Lennie and George?
Dreams
Freedom and self-determination
Friendship
All of the above
5.
'"Why's he sittin' with the coloured folks?"
"Always does. He likes 'em better'n he likes us, I reckon. Lives by himself way down near the county line. He's got a coloured woman and all sorts of mixed chillun. Show you some of 'em if we see 'em."
"He doesn't look like trash," said Dill.
"He's not, he owns all one side of the river bank down there, and he's from a real old family to boot."'
-- Which theme, or themes, from Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, are evident in this dialogue between Jem and Dill?
Courage
Justice
Youth and age
Race and class prejudice
The class prejudice is evident in the reference to 'trash' and 'a real old family'
6.
'"Antonio, I am married to a wife, which is as dear to me as life itself; but life itself, my wife, and all the world, are not with me esteem'd above thy life: I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all, here to this devil, to deliver you."' -- Which theme, or themes, from William Shakespeare's play, The Merchant of Venice, is evident in Bassanio's speech?
Nobility
Mercy and justice
Love and friendship
True wealth
7.
'"But mercy is above this sceptred sway, it is enthroned in the hearts of kings, it is an attribute to God himself, and earthly power doth then show likest God's, when mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this -- that in the course of justice none of us should see salvation."' -- Which theme, or themes, from William Shakespeare's play, The Merchant of Venice, are evident in Portia's speech?
Nobility
Mercy and justice
Love and friendship
True wealth
Is justice found in following the letter of the law, or does mercy produce true justice?
8.
"'Well, I ain't giving you no trouble. Think I don't like to talk to somebody ever' once in a while? Think I like to stick in that house alla time?'" -- Which theme, or themes, from John Steinbeck's novel, Of Mice and Men, are reinforced by Curley's wife's complaint?
Dreams
Freedom and self-determination
Loneliness
The futility of war
9.
'"I wanted you to see something about her -- I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what."' -- Which theme, or themes, from Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, are evident in Atticus's speech?
Race and class prejudice
Justice
Courage
Good v. evil
Much of the violence in the novel comes from cowardice, rather than courage
10.
'MR. BIRLING: By the way, there's something I'd like to mention -- in strict confidence -- while we're by ourselves. I have an idea that your mother -- Lady Croft -- while she doesn't object to my girl -- feels you might have done better for yourself socially --
GERALD, rather embarrassed, begins to murmur some dissent, but BIRLING checks him.
MR. BIRLING: No, Gerald, that's all right. Don't blame her. She comes from an old country family -- landed people and so forth -- and so it's only natural. But what I wanted to say is -- there's a fair chance that I might find my way into the next Honours List. Just a knighthood, of course.'
-- Which theme, or themes, are evident in this passage from J.B. Priestley's play, An Inspector Calls?
Class
Gender conflict
Social responsibility
Age conflict
Author:  Sheri Smith

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