The theme is almost the origin of your writing, because it is from it that you will reflect, position and choose the arguments that will be developed. If you do not understand the theme, then all the work that comes after will tragically go down.
Theme Interpretation Problems
To interpret the theme correctly, we must pay attention to every word, without restrictions or generalizations.
In the constraint problem, we interpret the theme in the wrong way because we approach only a part of it, as if we were only paying attention to one aspect. For example, let’s assume that the theme is “the importance of the sea to the world.” One of the important characteristics of the sea is oil, which is extracted at high depths. But if I write an entire essay on oil, I will go over the theme of “the importance of the sea to the world,” as if I were writing a text about “the importance of oil to the world.” I, for example, could talk about the importance of the sea because of foreign trade and could also address the issue of biodiversity, fisheries, tourism and the geopolitical importance of the sea to a country of continental size that is the United States. That is: the sea is not only oil.
Why does this problem happen? Answer: The constraint problem usually happens when we feel confident to develop only one aspect of the theme (or we only know how to write about it). As in the example given, if one only knows how to associate the sea with oil, then naturally one will have more security to talk about oil.
Possible Consequences: By restricting the topic, new arguments may be lacking, and thus writing may become “circular”. The essay does not evolve: it keeps running around the same point, speaking the same thing with other words.
How to avoid? Answer: Make good planning. Read the topic carefully and see everything you know about it, being careful not to restrict it. Then, after writing the sketch, do the “opposite way”: pretend that you are reading the text for the first time and reflect if any reader, from your text, is able to discover the proposed theme. If you finish reading your essay with the impression that it is about “the importance of oil for America” and the proposed theme is, in fact, “the importance of the sea for America,” then there is something wrong. Terribly wrong.
In the problem of generalization, the opposite occurs: writing goes beyond the topic, addressing issues that are not related to it. Let us assume that the theme is “the importance of defending the Amazon”. Let us suppose that I write that defending the Amazon from foreign interests means defending national sovereignty. So I could write that it is important for America to defend its sovereignty because it occupies an important position in the world and for being an important actor in the world scenario America needs to maintain good diplomacy and seek good economic partners. Oops! What is the theme? If the theme is about “the importance of defending the Amazon”, why am I saying that America needs good economic partners? Realize that I, tragically, am going beyond the theme.
Why does this problem happen? Answer: The problem of generalization can happen because one begins writing without planning what one is going to write and writes as one thinks, as a kind of “flow of consciousness” (which is a technique used in literary texts, which does not is the case of the dissertation). Then ideas come up and they are “spat” on paper, becoming a “salad” (to say the least).