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Symbolism, Motif, and Theme

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Lindsey Brinkman

on 19 November 2012

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Transcript of Symbolism, Motif, and Theme

"The Great Literary Adventure" Symobls, Motifs, & Themes!!! Symbols symbol A symbol is anything that represents another thing A motif is a recurrent device, formula, or situation that often serves as a signal for the appearance of a character or event (a pattern of a symbol throughout the text) Motifs The central or most important aspect that emerges from how the book treats the subject (the message the author send to their readers) Themes A theme that transcends (goes beyond) any time period, place, or generation. Universal Theme Dark figure/shadow,
candle light, storm,
and sun Examples:

-a light bulb can symbolize a"new idea“

-money can symbolize greed

-A chain can symbolize the coming together of two things

-Spring can symbolize rebirth Sometimes a motif can be a contrast, like "light and dark."
A series of symbols that could represent this motif might be:

moon shadows (shades of darkness)
a candle (a light in the darkness)
storm clouds (temporary darkness)
a ray of sunshine (emerging from darkness)
a tunnel (through the darkness) A motif could be expressed by a collection of related symbols. For example, the motif of fragmentation (of a family, for instance) could come from several symbols that appear in a book:

shattered glass
an unfaithful spouse
a runaway (pet, teen, car) Examples:

-Greed will only lead to unhappiness
-Friendship is dependent on sacrifice
-Love is the worthiest of pursuits
-Death is part of the life cycle What to look for:

-a generalization about life or human nature.
-experiences that are common to all people everywhere


-Good trumps evil
-Love conquers all Motif THEME! The light and dark of a story might also tell us:

- Life renews itself
- Knowledge conquers fear (repeated symbol) Light and Dark Love
How does the relate to Into the Wild you ask?
Symbol: money (symbolizes “excess”)

Motif: donation and burning of money

Theme: “excess” leads to corruption of self In the book, Krakauer reflects, “Her son, the teenage Tolstoyan, believed that wealth was shameful, corrupting, inherently evil…” (115).

McCandless gave away all of his college funds to a non-profit organization

Krakauer writes, “…what nobody knoew- was that he would shortly donate all of the money in his college fund to OXFAM America, a charity dedicated to fighting hunger. (20). McCandless does not agree with his parent’s wealth (excess of materials) AND THAT''S HOW IT'S DONE!
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