Learn English – Is envy a theme or a motif?


I'm writing about a film – one of the events in the film is that I'm reminded of envy between two characters.

Towards the end this re-appears.

Which one is best? :

With the previous motif of envy between the men,

With the previous theme of envy between the men,

Best Answer

Motif and Theme are not quite synonyms. I like this explanation:

Theme is the main idea or message of the work. ...intended to teach a lesson or moral.
Motif is a recurring object or idea in a work. A motif can also be something abstract, such as an emotion or quality...

In summary both may imply something recurring as a work progresses, most obviously in symphonic music: theme implies the main idea, motif a subsidiary idea, possibly related to an overall theme.

Hence which to use depends on the significance of envy in your script. From your brief description I suspect that you should use motif as infer that envy is not the primary focus of your film.

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