In modern literature studies, a motif is a central recurrent theme, idea, or storyline within a story. In most cases, the themes explored are those that emerge out of a writer’s internalized experiences. Thematic concepts can also be divided into two broad categories: the thematic element of a story is what readers interpret the story as meaning and its thematic idea being what the story says about the relevant subject.
If an author utilizes a central idea to tell a story, such as an extended metaphor or parable, it is called a motif. Likewise, if the author employs a central theme to tell a story, such as Love, it is called a motif. A theme or thematic element can also be part of a larger story, such as the plot of a novel.
Thematic elements in literature are most commonly found throughout the text, although some can appear in place of characters, plot, and events. A character’s thoughts, desires, motivations, and attributes can constitute a motif, as can the conflict, background, and setting. A theme can even be a sub-theme within a larger theme. In this case, all of the characters within the theme could have their own individual motifs, which would make for an interesting weaving of the various strands of the overall theme.
Thematic elements in literature include emotions and attitudes, such as optimism, cynicism, guilt, remorse, hatred, and admiration. It can also include descriptions of places and activities, such as a scenic view or an exotic holiday destination. When describing the aforementioned theme, it would be difficult to isolate one central “them” for all of the characters and settings. So, for any given character, a writer would need to come up with different themes to encapsulate their range of emotions, attitudes, thoughts, and desires.
Thematic elements in literature can appear in a number of different ways. A story with a morally redeeming theme might deal with revenge as a matter of right and justice, whereas a story that deals with morality as a distant objective would not need to deal with themes of revenge. In other cases, a writer might present a moral dilemma, but have his characters take the necessary actions to avoid making a mistake or stepping outside the accepted norms.
While themes are inherent to all forms of literature, some common themes that appear throughout the genre include love and romance, war and the military, animals and nature, and the supernatural. For example, a romance novel could deal with a series of lovers, each with their own agenda and struggles to meet their own needs. Military fiction can deal with a protagonist serving in the military and coming home. Similarly, animal farm novels may focus on a family of animals, living peacefully together and free from conflict with other animals. Regardless of whether the theme is one of morality, fantasy, or realistic plot-driven conflict, it is an essential component of all literature.