Theme vs Motif
Theme and motif are words that are often confused by people because of their underlying similarities and overlapping. Motif is used in narratives, pieces of art, and even in literature to create a mood or sentiment. It is often repeated in a piece, to let the reader or audiences know that it has significance for the story or art piece. Motif is deeply related with another concept called theme. This is the central idea or message that the author of a story or play wants to convey to the audiences. Despite similarities, there are enough differences between motif and theme. These differences will be highlighted in this article.
The most dominant or central idea in a story, play or a piece of visual art is what constitutes its theme. However, there can be several themes running concurrently in a story. Themes are ideas that have been recognized culturally and are universal in nature. They are common and are well understood by the people belonging to different cultures such as the concepts of discrimination and hatred. Love, compassion, and other similar values and ideas have been used as themes in plays and stories for centuries by writers.
When you see a work of art, you find some patterns and sequences that are repeated quite often. Similarly, in a story or play, you might find some events being used repeatedly. This is done deliberately to reinforce an idea that may be central to the story. The image, the shapes, colors, numbers, sounds, and events that are repeated frequently are called motifs and they serve the purpose of reinforcing the theme of the literary work or piece of art. Motif keeps the attention of the reader or the audience focused to a central idea or theme. Motif always has a symbolic value as it stands for something else. The artist makes use of these symbols in a special sequence to remind the reader or the audience about the message he wants to convey.
What is the difference between Theme and Motif?
• Motif is the visual or audio clue that reminds readers and audiences about the theme in a piece of art or a story or a play
• Motif may be a symbol, or symbols, distinct colors and shapes, sounds, and even events that are presented in a sequence or pattern, to keep the focus of the audience on what the artist deems to be the central idea or the theme of his work.
• A motif has a symbolic value, and significance, regarding the theme of a story or a play
• Themes are often concepts that are cross cultural and understood as human values
• Theme is more dominant, and a central idea, while motifs are only symbolic and suggestive in nature