This question was very quickly closed as "primarily opinion based", including by a moderator.

The comments implied that it was being closed because the answer was subject to interpretation, which would make sense for the POB close reason. But we have a whole tag with several questions, none closed, that ask for analysis of a theme from a work. That's the point of literary analysis. More importantly, the close reason reads, in part:

entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

which doesn't fit literary analysis, at all. Such an effort relies on facts (things that happened), references (things the creator or others have said), and expertise (understanding literary analysis -- it's taught in schools).

At one point, the idea of critical analysis of sci-fi works was expected to be a key part of this site, but that idea seems to have been dropped in favor of more "mechanical" questions.

Are these questions now being deemed off-topic?

  • I am of the opinion that a lot of critical analysis questions (such as the one mentioned) are likely to lead to many, equally valid opinions. I love literary analysis, but I’ve read some pretty opinion-based papers!
    – Adamant
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 19:22
  • Looking at the literary-analysis tag, there are a only a few fairly recent questions. This seems fine. This is close to opinion-based, but might not be, since JKR might have given a description of her writing process (though the only answer speculates from the books).
    – Adamant
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 19:30
  • 1
    This is not literary analysis. Most questions in this tag are not opinion-based, in part because they are not literary analysis! In-universe plot question. Shopping question. History question. Terminology question.
    – Adamant
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 19:34
  • Of the 16 open literary-analysis questions, I’d say about four are actual literary analysis. There are some questions that are not tagged thus but are literary analysis, however.
    – Adamant
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


In general, critical analysis is on-topic and can lead to great questions. The closed question, however, is not a good example of such a question. At the time it was closed the body of the question was

Does the movie "dark knight " portray the theme of imprisonment? If so how? And where is it shown in the film.

But what is meant by the "theme of imprisonment"? The question doesn't define that or attempt to give any examples from the film or other stories, which leaves the question open to interpretation as to what the asker means by the "theme of imprisonment". How figurative can an imprisonment be yet still fall under the asker's definition of "theme of imprisonment"? Is Harvey Dent's dependence on his coin flips a type of imprisonment which reflects this theme? Was Batman in some sense imprisoned by his affection for Rachel?

For comparison, one of the comments links to a similar question on Movies.SE. The body of that question (links removed) is:

According to Wikipedia, the main theme of The Dark Knight is escalation, such that each event lead to an escalation that results from the choices Batman and James Gordon make. A separate source said that if one were to start from the beginning the movie can be seen as sequence of small games with the first being the robbery scene.

The robbery scene being compared to that of the Pirate Game.

Is it possible that the primary theme is actually Game Theory? Since the actual escalation didn't occur until the end with the prisoner's dilemma and Harvey kidnapping Gordon's family? What is the main theme of The Dark Knight?

Here the theme of "escalation" is clearly defined, the question provides examples, and the asker shows some knowledge of the movie. That is a good critical analysis question. There's still room for interpretation for the answerers, but they have a clear definition of the proposed main theme to objectively argue for or against.

The question also has the confounding problem that it's a "give me teh codez" type of question. At the time it was closed it had the title

Need help on feedback on question

and the asker self-answered with

Anyone? Please.... need immediate help

Why would you need "immediate help" for a critical analysis question, unless it's a last-minute homework assignment? I'm not the only one who picked up on that. I'm not aware of any policies on this site for handling "give me teh codez" questions (we rarely get them), but on other SE sites such questions are routinely closed because they are not conducive to good Q&A.

Finally, the body of the question mentions The Dark Knight but was tagged with . Which movie was the asker wondering about?

In hindsight it probably would have been more accurate to close that question as "unclear what you are asking" due to (a) the tag/body discrepancy and (b) the unclear definition of "theme of imprisonment". But another user had voted to close as "primarily opinion-based", and that seemed to fit as well due to (b).

  • Good explanation. Originally I'd tended to agree with Mike and think the question might be worth reopening, but your reasoning (especially the comparison to a similar question on M&TV) is pretty convincing.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 15:27
  • 2
    I agree with the last paragraph, and would acually urge you to do just that - hammer it open; and hammer it closed with "Unclear" reason, with a clarifying comment. Might not be worth the effort, but the pedant in me demands neatness in organization :) Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 22:00
  • 2
    @DVK-in-exile It's hardly any effort at all for a moderator -- it's done now. I thought about doing it earlier but didn't want to touch that question anymore until the community had an opportunity to weigh in here.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 4:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .