Motifs enable authors, playwrights, and filmmakers to craft a more lyrical and ordered story, directing readers and audiences to symbols representing greater concepts. Motifs complement themes by emphasizing the work's underlying concepts through repeated imagery and symbols. Like themes, they can also provide some closure by leaving us wondering what will happen next in the story.
In literature, motifs are used to emphasize ideas or events that are important to the story but not necessarily crucial to its plot. For example, one could say that Shakespeare used marriage as a motif throughout his works to highlight the importance he placed on love. Or one might say that Dostoevsky used blindness as a motif to explore the nature of human perception.
In drama, motifs are used to bring back characters who have been left out of the action. For example, one might say that Ibsen used madness as a motif to explain how different people perceive reality around them. Or one might say that Chekhov used three sisters to show how many children there are in a family when one boy is left out.
In music, motifs are patterns or sequences of notes that recur at regular intervals throughout the work. They often represent important elements in the story. For example, one might say that Beethoven used a descending scale pattern to indicate despair.
Motifs are recurrent patterns, contrasts, and literary devices that can assist develop and inform the fundamental topics of a narrative. For example, two stories about young people rejecting their traditional roles as king or peasant would contrast themes such as authority, freedom, tradition, change.
The Bible has many motifs. Some examples include: victory over the enemy with his destruction; salvation as a gift by grace through faith; the cross as a tragic symbol of atonement for our sins; Moses as a hero who leads his people out of slavery into freedom; the patriarchs as heroes of faith who lead their families in obedience to God; David as a musician and poet who sings out praises to God for his greatness.
Knowing how to interpret these common motifs is important for understanding the overall story of the Bible.
A motif is a literary method that consists of a repeating element in a literary work that has symbolic value. A motif is sometimes a reoccurring picture...
Motifs are common in poetry and prose fiction. Poems and stories often include references to or quotations of pre-existing texts, called "motif poems" or "motif stories." These texts are usually by famous authors, which enhances the author's reputation. Writers often use well-known poems or stories as models for their own work.
Some examples of motifs in literature include: Shakespeare's sonnets, which compare his love to other women's faces; Emily Dickinson's series of poems about her lost love, which parallels Christ's suffering on the cross; and Hermann Hesse's book The Glass Bead Game, which uses a plot similar to that of William Golding's Lord of the Flies.
Many novels contain repeated images or themes. For example, there is a scene near the beginning of Charles Dickens' novel Bleak House in which the young lawyer John Jarndyce sees a funeral go by and makes a comment about how much it costs. This scene is then repeated many times throughout the rest of the book when people talk about funerals.