Definition of motif
Motif is an object or idea that is repeated throughout a literary work

Motif and theme
In a literary work, a motif can be seen as an image, sound, action, or other figure that has symbolic meaning and contributes to the development of A theme Motif and theme are linked in a literary work, but there is a difference between them: in a literary work, a motif is a recurring image, idea or symbol that develops or explains a theme, while a theme is a central theme. idea or message

Motif and symbol
Sometimes motif examples are misidentified as symbol examples. Symbols are images, ideas, sounds, or words that represent something else and help us understand an idea or thing. Motifs, on the other hand, are images, ideas, sounds, or words that help explain the central idea of ​​a literary work: the theme. Furthermore, a symbol may appear once or twice in a literary work, while a motif is a recurring element.

Themes, motifs Let us try to understand the difference between theme, motif and symbol by analyzing a literary work In Charles' Tale of Two Cities Dickens, the main plot revolves around two basic themes: the ever-present possibility of resurrection and the need for sacrifice to bring about a revolution.

One of the examples of motifs in the novel that develops these themes is the presence of doubles: (1) The action takes place in two cities. (2) We find two opposing double images in the form of the female characters Lucie and Madame Defarge. We also see recurring images of darkness in the narrative that add to the gloomy atmosphere.

Another motif is that of imprisonment, as each individual character struggles against some type of imprisonment. Finally, there are many symbols in the narrative as well. The broken wine barrel is a symbol of people's hunger; Madame Defarge Knitting is a symbol of revenge, and Marquis is a figure who stands for social disorder.

Examples of a motif in literature
Example 1: Hamlet (By William Shakespeare)
In Shakespeare's Hamlet we find a recurring incest motive, accompanied by incestuous desires Laertes speaks to his sister Ophelia in a sexually explicit way. Hamlet's obsession with Gertrude's sex life with Claudius has a cause for incestuous desire.

There is also a motive of hatred for women that Hamlet experiences in his relationship with Gertrude and Ophelia. Hamlet expresses his disgust for women in scene 2 of Act I. says:

"Frail, your name is woman"

Example 2: The adventures of Huckleberry Finn (by Mark Twain)
In Mark Twains The adventures of Huckleberry Finn, we see several motifs that support the central idea of ​​the narrative. The childhood motif gives the novel a lighter tone and makes it pleasant to read despite its grave central notions of slavery and racism. Both Huck and Tom are young and flexible enough to receive a moral education, and therefore more open-minded than another obvious motive in the narrative is superstition. Jim seems stupid to believe in all possible signs and omens, but interestingly predicts the coming event.

Example 3: Heart of Darkness (by Joseph Conrad)
Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness has a motive of observation and eavesdropping. Marlow, the protagonist, gets information about the world by either observing his surroundings or listening to other people's conversations. Similarly, there is another obvious motive for the comparison between the outside and the inside. At first Marlow is a person who closely observes things and people from the surface, but on his journey into the heart of darkness gains a glimpse into his deeper nature as well as into the other.

Example 4: Killing a Mocking Bird (Von Harper Lee)
The central idea of ​​the coexistence of good and evil in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird is supported by several motifs. Lee strengthens the atmosphere with a motif of Gothic details, in recurring images of gloomy and haunted surroundings, supernatural events and a full moon. Another motif in the narrative is the small town life of Maycomb, which represents goodness and comfort in life.

Function of the motif
In addition to depicting a predominant theme, writers include several motifs as reinforcement in their literary works. Motifs help develop the main theme of a in literary work and help readers understand the underlying messages that writers are trying to convey to them.
Imagery Digression