The short answer is yes. But this isn’t a blog about short answers. So I’ll edit my answer to yes, but it’s not as common as some people think.
As somebody said at one point, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes a bell is just a bell. Sometimes there is not deeper meaning to the color of his sweater.
But sometimes there is.
Sometimes, the author really does sit down with ‘themes’ in mind and works to present those to the public. Sometimes the cigar is metaphor for how sweet life can be while it lasts and how bitter it can be at the end. Or, if you’re Freud, sometimes the cigar is a penis. Author intent certainly factors quite heavily into what a person can take from a book, but a lot of the time the themes and impressions are sort of built up in the mind of the reader. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
Literature lives and dies in the minds of readers. Take, for example (disclaimer: I am not religious and I and not preaching to you), the Bible. It’s the best-selling book in history. But, if you aren’t a Christian, it’s really quite boring. The words on the page come alive to people because they are projecting their own thoughts and feelings on it and taking away something. Since it’s so old, no one can say the exact intent of each passage, but people take something from it. The same sort of thing works with stuff like Sherlock Holmes.
Don’t tell me ‘it’s not the same thing’ because ‘Christianity is a religion’ and ‘Sherlock isn’t’. Because, I mean, really. Sherlock may not be a religion, but it would not be a stretch to call it a cult. A very loving cult.
Have a nice day.