A blog for the comprehensive understanding of Literature, Applied Linguistics and ELT

October 7, 2009

The Role of Motif in Literature


Motif (also known as Motive), an  important and sometimes recurring theme, contrast, or idea in a work of literature.  The motif is considered to be one of the principal literary devices of a narrative. Authors often use this device to develop and inform the text’s major themes.  For example, in Brave New World, Aldous Huxley repeatedly used the motif of sex to reinforce the theme of moral decline in the World State. Again, in The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne employed a number of evocative names (such as “Prynne” rhymes with “sin” ; “Dimmesdale” suggests “dimness”—weakness, indeterminacy, lack of insight, and lack of will) to establish the text's principal theme of sin and punishment.
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