V Theme - What and Why?

What did you learn from this novel?  What did the characters learn in this novel (or what should  they have learned?)  Are the same issues brought up repeatedly in this novel?  Are the characters facing similar problems?  Do they need to resolve the same choices in their lives, whether moral or ethical or whatever? 

What is really going on in this story?  What sort of a view of life does this author have?  Is it pessimistic or optimistic?  Is the author biased? 
The theme is the main idea expressed in a work of fiction.  The theme is not just the
events that take place (that's plot).  It is an insight that gives us an idea about human life. A theme may not be stated explicitly.  The reader may be required to analyze and work out what the author feels about life.  The theme may also not give any answers, but instead may merely explore the questions. 

VI Dramatic Irony 
Are there things that happen which are unexpected, or even the opposite of what was expected?  Irony reminds us that life is unpredictable and what we think is appropriate is not always true, and that what we expect is not always what we get.  Are there situations in the story where the reader would naturally think that one thing is appropriate, but gets the opposite?  Are there some results that seem particularly inappropriate? 


Ima Student
Mr. Greenlee
Elements of the Novel
7 March 2003


The Theme of the Novel The Dark is Rising and its Irony


V The Theme of The Dark is Rising
All of the immortals in The Dark is Rising are either purely good or purely evil, making Good vs. Evil the most obvious theme in the book.  This doesn't mean that the Old Ones don't make mistakes, or that their actions never hurt anyone, but their motives are always to do good; the Dark never do good to anyone except in deception.  Susan Cooper, the author, never gives any explanation for choosing good over evil: it is something that the reader is just supposed to buy into unconditionally.  In this novel, this works.   

Significantly, this is a novel of awakening.  When the novel begins, Will is only superficially aware of the world around him, especially as concerns good and evil.  Another important theme, then, would be
There's more to this world than meets the eye.  On the bottom of page 34, Susan Cooper writes, "the world he had inhabited since he was born seemed to whirl and break and come down again in a pattern that was not the same as before."  Merriman Lyons tells Will that "nothing is what it seems, boy" (36). 

In
The Dark is Rising, Loyalty of those lower and the Responsibility of those above is the theme of the Walker / Hawkins sub-plot.  At times, both Merriman and Will fail to take the appropriate responsibility for their powers and how they will affect the common  people, especially Hawkins.  Hawkins turns against the Old Ones precisely for this reason.  When Will lights the magic fire merely for his own amusement, and puts Hawkins in danger, this reaffirms Hawkins's view of the world. 

A final important theme is
the importance of words.  For those who deal in magic, knowing the correct words is important to make a spell work; for an author like Susan Cooper, words are also of utmost importance. 

VI Irony in The Dark is Rising
The irony in The Dark is Rising is first and foremost that an eleven year-old boy has such powers.  Will, a mere child, must not only protect his family, normally a father's job, but must also battle in an age-old conflict between good and evil.