Difference Between Plot and Theme


Main Difference

The main difference between Plot and Theme is that the Plot is the order or arrangement of events and situations, whereas the basic message or impression carried through writing is Theme.

Plot vs. Theme

A plot is known as synonymous with the storyline, whereas the theme is the main thought or idea. The plot is a turn into a story; on the other hand, the theme talks about the problems of the story. The plot is an essential literary component in a story; on the flip side, a theme in an artist’s exertion or an idea that the artist or writer improves or recaps.


The plot is a structured element in a story, whereas the theme is unstructured. The plot, as an overall, starts from the beginning of the story and ends when the tail ends; on the contrary, themes are important and beautiful decorations that arrange the whole concept of the literary work.

Comparison Chart

The plot is a complete story that narrates what happened from start to end.The theme is more of the main idea or the motif of the story.
Before the 12th century1200-1300
A story may have several plots.There is a single theme in a story.

What is Plot?

The plot is a noun taken from Old English. The plot of a film, novel, or play is a linked sequence of occurrences to making up or invent the story.


The action that appears or happens with the characters, what they will do, where they will go, and when they will make an appearance are all the parts of a plot. When a plot becomes a mixture of several complicated plots, then it is known as an ‘imbroglio.’


  • Exposition: Exposition is the introduction of the tail. It introduces the hero, setting, and other main characters.
  • Rising Action: Rising action starts with the conflict. It consists of the build-up actions from the overview of the conflict, until the climax.
  • Climax: Climax is the spinning point or the highest of the story. The contention of the story is in full swing in the climax. Climax created the highest interest and emotions.
  • Falling Action: falling action consists of the actions that lead to the ending. The fight starts to fix in falling action.
  • Resolution: Resolution symbols the conclusion or outcome of the story. The clash is set, and the tale achieves either a happy or sad ending.

What is Theme?

The word Theme is derived from ‘Latin language.’ The theme may be a central message or insight, carried through a piece of writing. Any piece of writing, no matter it is artificial, has a theme.

The theme in fiction is not accurate; the writer doesn’t directly state the theme; he only gives us cue about the story. It is upon the readers to read and recognize the theme of the story. In a literary concept, a theme has two categorizations of ‘thematic statement and thematic concept.’

The writer plans the thematic statement, and the readers decided the thematic concept or idea. Themes frequently copy the particular views of the writer or readers. Different people get different themes according to their perceptions.

It is possible that a text has multiple themes, but mostly books consist of a central theme. You can easily found central them as a recurring idea throughout the book. There are two types of a theme, ‘major theme and minor theme.’

The theme is considered to be global; it can be taken out of a text and applied to other texts. You can also express the theme in one sentence, and sometimes in a single word. A theme in imagination is not clear. Here writer only gives us evidence about the story.

Theme highlights the topic or message of the writer and director that what he wants to impart to his readers or viewers. Different writers have different styles in bringing the theme of a story. Many use different figures of speech to express their ideas more effectively, like similes, metaphors, and personification, amongst others.


  • Shakespeare’s Othello – jealous
  • Austen’s Sense and Sensibility – the danger of excessive sensibility
  • Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby – society and class, love.
  • Some others are of abortion, war, and revenge, etc.

Key Differences

  1. The plot is the main message of a novel or a story, whereas the theme is the complete description of a novel.
  2. The plot is what one would expect to emerge into a narrative; on the other hand, the theme is unexpected to emerge into a description.
  3. The plot is not an underlying topic or message; conversely, the theme is an underlying topic or message.
  4. The plot is mostly unidirectional and linear approaches; on the flip side, themes are not unidirectional and have no linear approaches.
  5. In a story, there may be numerous plots, but it has one theme.
  6. Writers refer plot as a complex form; on the other hand, theme as a simple form.


Both the plot and the theme are confused and important literary devices. The plot is an overall detail of a novel, and the theme is the ornaments of the novel.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson