Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

Sway

by Kat Spears

Motifs

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There's nothing worse than having a song stuck in your head. I take that back. There's nothing worse than having a BAD song stuck in your head. And you know it happens. There's always some little piece of a tune—sometimes just a rhythm, or a specific beat—that lodges in your skull and then...YOU CAN'T GET IT OUT.

That hypothetical personal nightmare is bit like a motif. Think of it as that piece of the melody that the author can't get enough of. The idea or element he or she repeats over ... and over ... and OVER.

Another thing about motifs: You'll pick up on them not just because of the repetition, but also because of the way they fit in with the author's message or theme.

Yes, like themes, motifs repeat themselves. Unlike themes, motifs don’t convey a main message themselves. Instead, they support the story’s main message.

Key point to remember: Motifs always recur.

Here’s an example: The weather in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. You’ll notice that Fitzgerald always highlights the weather before or during a big emotional moment in the story. And the weather always mirrors the mood of that emotional incident. Different kinds of weather mirroring different kinds of emotions, but weather—over and over again. (Shakespeare likes to do this, too.)

Here’s another example: Journeys in Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. There are lots of journeys in Austen’s novel, and they often function as catalysts for change in the story. Like the journey that Elizabeth takes, which leads her to come into contact with Mr. Darcy. Journeys—yep, in Pride and Prejudice, they’re a motif.

Next: Protagonists in Literature.


How to Write an A+ Essay: Thesis StatementsClosing arguments.
There's a reason courtroom dramas reach their climax at the end of the trial.

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Literary Analysis 101: Dictionary of Terms. Metaphor in Literature.

Literary Analysis 101: Dictionary of Terms Metaphor in Literature

Find the complete eight video guide to literary terms here.

Literary Analysis 101: Dictionary of Terms. Protagonists in Literature. 60second Recap Video Study Guide

Literary Analysis 101: Dictionary of Terms Protagonists in Literature

Also at Recap Resource: 

Essay Writing Guide:

Get Psyched
Get a Thesis Statement
Get Organized
Get Smart
So What?
Get an Ending
Make it Sing!
Thesis Statements: Four Steps


Make-Your-Own-Recap Tutorial: 

Pick your topic
Focus your presentation
Write your script
Edit yourself
Choose your props
Create your graphics
What to do once you're done