Difference Between Motif and Theme (With Table)

Confusion always occurs to similar terms, and people consider both the items the same. As we all know, both the terms motif and theme are very similar to each other, so many people consider both the terms the same. Let me clarify that both the terms motif and theme are very much different from each other.

The term motif refers to symbols of symbols, shapes, sounds, distinct colors, and organized events in a pattern or sequence. The term motif also gives a significance, symbolic value, to the theme of a play or a story.

Motif vs Theme

 The difference between motif and theme is that motif is considered to be concrete. On the other hand, the theme is considered to be abstract. The term theme considers being a central idea or main idea that the writer gives through his or her literary work. It is considered to be a plot of the events which will make up the story. So the theme is considered to be the main event of the story.

Comparison Table Between Motif and Theme

Parameter of ComparisonMotif Theme 
Meaning The term motif refers to a symbol, shapes, sounds, distinct color, and events in a story that are organized in a series or sequences.The term theme refers to be a central idea or the main idea that the writer wants to convey through their literary work.
Explicitly The motif is generally explicitly as it is clearly understood.The theme is not explicitly given in a text.
Difference The motif is considered to be concrete.The theme is considered to be abstract.
Aim It gives significant symbolic value to the main theme or plot of the play.It gives the central idea or main motive that the writer wants to convey to his story.
Example A repeated reference or visual of shattered glass can be an example of the motif.The example of the theme can be death, loneliness, friendship, honor, love, etc.

What is a Motif?

The team motif is referred to as a recurring pattern in a writing workshop, which helps to gain strength in the story’s main theme. A motif can be considered symbolic or concrete, and it can also keep on supporting the main or central idea or underlying theme of the story. It can be an idea, an image, a subject, or the events that the writer wants to show at regular intervals so that it can give some hints to certain ideas or events in a story. We can tell that the motif is some detectable hint pointing towards the play’s storyline by describing in a layman word. Some examples of the motif in a fairy tale play are beautiful maidens, wicked stepmothers, happy ending, and prince charming.

The term motif is considered a recurring element in a literary work, which also means that the image or idea appears repeatedly. It is believed that if the related image can bring the audience’s attention to an idea, it will be known as the story motif. We can take the example of shattered glass; this can be a repeated symbol for brokenness, which will appear in the series or play. This symbol will appear one time in a play but will give the large motif of fragmentation or brokenness in the narrative.

What is a Theme?

To understand the theme, we can tell that every written piece has its purpose. The author wants to say something to a reader about the idea, a thought, concept, or process, which we call a theme. The theme is not considered a chronology of events or a storyline of a play; it is much more vast than that. It is to be believed that the story may consist of one or more themes that the author wants to tell his readers and connect them. Death, love, loneliness, honor, women’s emancipation, friendship, etc. are referred to as the story’s theme. 

It is to be believed that both motifs and symbols can be a greater understanding of the story theme that gives the overall message, lesson generated, or through-line, which are seen by the narrative. It is considered if the brokenness comes as the story motif, then we can say that author is trying to tell about love, relationship, and families or if children break the window of a misunderstood neighbors house, then it might seem that the author is trying to give the symbol about the gaps in understanding between people who do know each other very well.

Main Differences Between Motif and Theme

  1. The term motif refers to a symbol, shapes, sounds, distinct color, and events in a story that are organized in a series or sequences. On the other hand, The term theme refers to a central idea or the main idea that the writer wants to convey through their literary work.
  2. The motif is generally explicitly as it is clearly understood. On the other hand, the theme is not explicitly given in a text.
  3. The motif is considered to be concrete, whereas the theme is considered to be abstract.
  4. It gives significant symbolic value to the main theme or plot of the play. On the other hand, This gives the central idea or main motive that the writer wants to convey to his story.
  5. A repeated reference or visual of shattered glass can be the example of a motif, whereas The example of the theme can be death, loneliness, friendship, honor, love, etc.

Conclusion

As the primary difference between motif and theme has been told, it will help understand that both the terms are very much different. As the above definition between both the terms has been told, we can tell that themes have the vast majority that we can understand.

The motif is the recurring pattern which the writer follows in the story, whereas the theme is the main storyline or the main plot which the writer wants to convey through his writing to the reader or the audience.