Theme: The main point of a work of literature. The term is used interchangeably with thesis.
The theme of William Shakespeare's Othello — jealousy — is a common one.
Subject: The person, event, or theme at the center of a work of literature. A work may have one or more subjects of each type, with shorter works tending to have fewer and longer works tending to have more.
The subjects of James Baldwin's novel Go Tell It on the Mountain include the themes of father-son relationships, religious conversion, black life, and sexuality. The subjects of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl include Anne and her family members as well as World War II, the Holocaust, and the themes of war, isolation, injustice, and racism.
Thomson Gale Learning