Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Motifs and Symbols

Motifs vs Symbols

There are times when we do not understand what is being meant by a word, a thought, an act, or a thing. We need other things to describe them in order to properly understand their meanings. This is particularly true when we are dealing with works of art and in the literary world. This is why symbols and motifs are created: to help us understand.

Symbol
A symbol is an object, a picture, a written word, or a sound that is used to represent something else either by resemblance, convention, or association. Every language have symbols; in fact, our names are symbols that represent us as individuals. Words and language in a broader sense are created by symbols by which humans communicate with each other. Through our experiences and from different sources we create symbols in order to explain and understand something that we have to interpret.

As symbols can be used to change the meaning of a word or phrase, they can change the way we view things. To get the meaning of a word, it is necessary to use symbols so that it can be understood well. The meaning of a symbol depends largely on its usage, its history, and purpose.

A very fine example of a symbol is the cross. It is used to symbolize Christianity, the religion which is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ who was crucified. The cross is also used to remind Christians about how Christ suffered in order to save them.

Motif
A motif is an image, spoken or written word, sound, act, or another visual or structural device that has symbolic significance. It is used to develop and inform the theme of a literary work.

The concept of a motif related to a theme, but unlike a theme which is an idea or message, a motif is a detail that is repeated in a pattern of meaning that can produce a theme while creating other aspects at the same time.

It is closely related to a theme or a symbol and uses different narrative elements. It is constantly repeated to represent a dominant or central idea or theme in a work of art. It relates more to thought which is used to support a theme.

Summary
1. A symbol is an object, a picture, a written word, or a sound that is used to represent something. A motif is an image, spoken or written word, sound, act, or another visual or structural device that is used to develop a theme.
2. A symbol can be repeated once or twice, while a motif is constantly repeated.
3. A symbol can help in the understanding of an idea or thing, while a motif can help indicate what the literary work or piece is all about.
4. The meaning of a symbol depends on its history and purpose while the meaning of a motif depends on how it is being used in a certain literary work.


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