What is Motif?
A dominant or recurring idea in a literary work. Along with presenting a prevailing theme, writers include several motifs in their literary works as reinforcements. Motifs contribute in developing the major theme of a literary work and help readers to comprehend the underlying messages that writers intend to communicate to them.
In Mark Twain’s “The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn”, we see several motifs that support the central idea of the narrative. The motif of childhood gives the novel a lighter tone and makes it enjoyable to read despite its grave central idea i.e. slavery and racism. Both Huck and Tom are young and flexible enough to undergo a moral education and thus are more open-minded than adults. Another obvious motif in the narrative is superstitions. Jim appears silly to believe in all sorts of signs and omens but interestingly predicts the coming event.
A motif is smaller than a theme but can develop it. It appears repeatedly throughout a literary work. A motif can sometimes be difficult to spot as it is sometimes an abstract concept like an emotion or a characteristic.