The literary device ‘motif’ is any element, subject, idea or concept that is constantly present through the entire body of literature. Using a motif refers to the repetition of a specific theme dominating the literary work. Motifs are very noticeable and play a significant role in defining the nature of the story, the course of events and the very fabric of the literary piece.
In many famed fairy tales, the motif of a ‘handsome prince’ falling in love with a ‘damsel in distress’ and the two being bothered by a wicked step mother, evil witch or beast and finally conquering all to live ‘happily ever after’ is a common motif.
Another common motif is the simple, pretty peasant girl or girl from a modest background in fairy tales discovering that she is actually a royal or noble by the end of the tale.