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Theme, Symbols, and Motifs

Theme, Symbols, and Motifs

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Theme, Symbols, and Motifs

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  1. Theme, Symbols, and Motifs

  2. Theme…What is it? • Themes can be found everywhere: literature, art, stories, movies, etc… • The theme of a fable is moral. • The theme of a parable is teaching. • The theme of a piece of literature is its view about life and how people behave.

  3. Theme • The main idea or message of a literary work. • A universal truth • A significant statement a story is making about society, human nature, or the human condition. • Theme is not the subject of the work but instead is an insight about life or human nature. THEME = IDEA

  4. Theme • Stated Theme- expressed directly • Implied Theme- revealed gradually through other literary elements such as plot, character, setting, point of view, imagery, figures of speech, or symbolism.

  5. Example “‘Simply this: hunting had ceased to be what you call ‘a sporting proposition.’ It had become too easy. I always got my quarry. Always. There is no greater bore than perfection’”(74, The Most Dangerous Game) • Through Zaroff’s comments about hunting, the author implies that hunting animals is not sportsmanlike. With only speed and instinct, they are not fairly matched against man’s intellect and reason.

  6. Theme…purpose? • An understanding of theme is dependent upon one’s experience of life and literature… yet… • Theme in literature can enlarge one’s understanding of life. • The theme will never completely explain the story, but rather supports all of the other elements in the story.

  7. Common themes in literature • The quest for immortality • The individual’s relationship with and obligation to society… charactervs. society • Individual’s journey to understanding him/herself… character vs. self • Individual’s relationship with and obligation to nature… character vs. nature

  8. Common themes in literature • How justice and injustice are decided • What it means to be a hero or antihero • What it means to be a survivor • An individual’s experience with alienation or despair • What the future holds • Love and hate and effects of

  9. Symbolism • The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships. • a person, place, thing, or idea that stands for something else. They are used deliberately to reinforce meaning. • For example, a sword may be a sword and also symbolize justice. A symbol may be said to embody an idea.

  10. Symbolism • A symbol may have more than one meaning, or its meaning may change from the beginning to the end of a literary work. • Personal: a meaning uniquely associated with our experiences • Contextual: a private meaning created by an author • Cultural: a meaning uniquely influenced by our culture (ex/ dogs represent faithfulness in China, but impurity in Indian/South Asian cultures • Universal: a meaning that is given to a thing by most people and cultures (ex/ lions represent deity, power and courage in many cultures)

  11. How many symbols can you associate these images with? (Don’t limit yourself to just objects. Think about shapes, colors, and parts of each image as well)

  12. Motifs • A recurring image, word, phrase, or action that tend to create unity within a literary work. • Sometimes the motif helps to create the theme in literature • A motif differs from a theme in that it can be expressed as a single word or fragmentary phrase, while a theme usually must be expressed as a complete sentence.

  13. Motif Examples • A recurring motif in George Orwell's "1984" is urban decay. Winston Smith's run-down home, London's crumbling buildings, and the overall disintigration of the city all support Orwell's theme of the miserable results of total government control.

  14. Below is a short list of common literary motifs…there are sooo many more! ClothingSeasons Colors Death Supernatural Adversaries Extraordinary Animals Wishes Magical Objects Magical Powers Deep Sleeps Witches Trickery Illness Consequences of Greed Flowers/plants Beautiful Princess  Foolish or Dimwitted Hero