Difference Between Theme and Moral

A story, a fictional work or an art work is based on a theme, a plot, a setting and a moral that makes the story running. May it be a theme or the moral both have their significance and purposes to serve.


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Although the theme and moral are overlapping concepts with one another but they have a fine line in between them. However, there is a vast difference between them.

Key Takeaways

  1. A theme is an underlying message, idea, or subject explored in a literary work, serving as a unifying element that connects various aspects of the story.
  2. A moral is a specific lesson or teaching that a story conveys, often guiding how to behave or make decisions in life.
  3. While both theme and moral contribution to the meaning of a story, a theme is more abstract and pervasive, whereas a moral offers a concrete lesson or principle.

Theme vs Moral

The difference between the theme and moral is that the theme is a central idea that a writer follows throughout the story or on which the complete story is based and is usually conveyed by the characters, plot and the setting of a story, on the other hand, the moral of a story is the lesson or teaching that the author is trying to tell through the story.

Theme vs Moral

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The moral of a story can be the theme of the story but vice versa is not necessarily true.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonThemeMoral
Dictionary definitionA topic or subject of discussion, a unifying and dominant idea of a story or book.An idea that is concerned with the concept of right-doing and wrong-doing or the principles of life and ethical behavior, a lesson learned from a story.
PurposeThe theme of a story tells the basic idea behind the story.To teach the reader about a real-life principle.
Appearance in the storyAppears several times in the story through characters, plots, etc.The moral of the story usually comes at the end of the story.
StatingThe theme of the story is not directly stated but is identified through understanding.The moral of the story is usually stated in the end, however, nowadays authors may or may not state the moral.
IdentificationThe theme is identified through repeated occurrence and words.The moral is generally confined in a statement.


What is the Theme?

A theme is a central topic of discussion in the story and is the most important part of a story. It is the concept on which the work is based and progresses on it, in other words, it is a pattern followed throughout.

A single story may have multiple themes. A theme appears several times throughout the story and is depicted in the story through characters, plots and the setting of the story.

The theme of the story is identified through its characters and plots, through the recurring occurrence of the words and sentences.


What is Moral?

The moral of the story is a lesson learned from the story or a message conveyed through it. The moral is the idea concerning the right and wrong things and the principles to be followed in the life and the ethical behavior one should have.

Usually, a story has one moral that is explained throughout the story. The moral of the story is stated at the end of the story and is a single lined statement conveyed.

 The morals in the stories of the storybooks for children play an important role in their developmental process since they don’t have a perception of their own in the early years of their life.

Nowadays, authors prefer not to state morals in the story and leave it for the readers to understand. Therefore, the writings of the current times depend more on the understanding of the reader.

Main Differences Between Theme and Moral

  1. The purpose of the theme is to develop the story on its line while the purpose of the moral is to teach the reader or convey a lesson to the reader, it teaches a person about what is right and what is wrong, about the principles of life, about the ethical behavior that a person should have.
  2. A story can have multiple themes but usually a single moral.

  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1999-11091-005
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0270271980190203
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