Themes, Symbolism, and Motifs Advanced Composition Maus
Theme • A common thread or repeated idea that is incorporated throughout a literary work. A theme is a thought or idea the author presents to the reader that may be deep, difficult to understand, or even moralistic. • In Maustheme is not presented in a preachy manner, such as in fables. In fact, it is not presented directly at all. You extract it from the characters, action, and setting that make up the story. In other words, you must figure out the theme yourself.
Themes in Maus • Familial guilt • Survivor’s guilt • Freedom • Faith • Identity • Conflicts between past and present • Luck • Love
Symbolism • A symbol is a word or object that stands for another word or object. For example, a dove is a symbol for peace. • Anthroporphism- giving animals human characteristics • Cats- Germans – hunt mice – protect the home from pestilence • Mice- Jews – pestilence – breed rapidly – live silently among people – hard to get rid of • pigs - Poles: Jews don’t eat pork and consider the pig a dirty animal • fish - British: the British have been long renowned for their navy – fish and chips • dogs - Americans: “man’s best friend”; the liberators. • frogs - French: double meaning – frogs are slippery, slimy; frogs can change into princes • Reindeer – Scandinavians – from north • Moth – gypsy
Motif • A recurring object, concept, or structure in a work of literature. A motif is important because it allows one to see main points and themes that the author is trying to express, in order that one might be able to interpret the work more accurately. • A recurring pattern or symbol
All three concepts seem to be similar- so how can I keep them separate? • Theme(s)- main idea(s). The big take-aways or applications to life. • Motif- can be a structure, an image, a color, etc. as long as it repeats throughout large portions of the text for a purpose. (Think…a symbol that repeats) • Symbol- an object, character, color, figure that helps to make an abstract idea more concrete. • Both symbols and motifs enhance and support the theme!
Calvo’s La beteestmorte: A picture book about WWII months after the liberation • A French cartoonist • Hitler as Big Bad Wolf – So convincing Disney threatened to sue
Horst Rosenthal’s Mickey in Gurs- 1942 • A prisoner in a French internment camp (he later died in Auschwitz that year) • Story had deep roots