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Motif is an object or idea that repeats itself throughout a literary work. Motif and theme are linked in a literary work but there is a difference between them. In a literary piece, a motif is a recurrent image, idea or a symbol that develops or explains a theme while a theme is a central idea or message. for example In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we find a recurring motif of incest accompanied by incestuous desires of some characters. Laertes speaks to his sister Ophelia in a way that is sexually explicit. Hamlet shows obsession for Gertrude’s sexual life with Claudius has an underlying tone of an incestuous desire. Besides, there is a motif 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: “Frailty, thy name is woman” @alexmp96
A motif is a recurring symbol which takes on a figurative meaning. We see them in books, films, and poems. In fact, almost every text commonly uses the literary device of the motif. A motif can be almost anything: an idea, an object, a concept, a character archetype, the weather, a color, or even a statement.