motive-n; 2 Senses

Sense Number 1: an intention, a reason for someone's actions

Commentary: MOTIVE[+state][+mental][+intention][+goal]

There is no apparent motive for the murder.
Sally doesn't trust Bob's motives for wanting to be on the committee.
They acted with the best of motives.

WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 1

Sense Number 2: a recurrent artistic theme or pattern

Commentary: MOTIVE[+form][+recurrent][+artistic][+music/+poetry/+painting] [+relation][+role][+theme]
NOTE: related to 'motif'

The entire work grows organically from the opening horn motive.
The motives of death and regeneration can be seen in all his murals.
The tablecloth had a decorative motive of grape vines and flowers around its border.

WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 2