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March 29, 2024

What are literary tropes?

Literary tropes, including metaphors, irony, and oxymorons, represent various forms of figurative language that enliven your writing, giving it emotion and nuance. As a writer, understanding literary tropes and the various ways they can be employed can improve your writing and make it more engaging for your readers. Learn about literary tropes and how the meaning of the word “trope” has transformed.

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What is the definition of a literary trope?

The term “trope” derives from the Greek word “tropos,” signifying a turn or shift in direction. A literary trope serves as a figurative language device that enhances writing by conveying ideas in a non-literal manner. Tropes allow a writer to make their work more dynamic and engaging. These expressive elements draw readers into your writing.

What are some examples of literary tropes?

1. Metaphor

Metaphors relate one thing to another, which are often unrelated, to convey an unexpected, deeper meaning. For example, the song Life is a Highway is an extended metaphor. It describes life as a road filled with twists.

2. Irony

Irony occurs when events happen contrary to expectations. It comes in various forms: verbal irony involves saying one thing while meaning another, situational irony occurs when events are the opposite of anticipated outcomes, and dramatic irony happens when the audience possesses knowledge characters don’t.

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3. Oxymoron

Oxymorons combine two words with opposite meaning for emphasis or to create a paradoxical effect. For example, the word “bittersweet” is an oxymoron. It combines bitter and sweet, creating a phrase which refers to situations or objects that are pleasant but also have elements of regret.

4. Metonymy

Metonymy involves substituting the name of one thing with the name of something closely associated with it. For instance, the “silver screen” refers to the world of film and “the crown” refers to the British monarchy.

5. Antanaclasis

Antanaclasis is a rhetorical device in which a word is repeated with different meanings each time. For instance, in the song Diamonds for Sierra Leone, Jay-Z raps, “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.” This example of antanaclasis highlights that Jay-Z doesn’t categorize himself as merely a businessman; instead, he sees his identity as the business itself.

6. Hyperbole

Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration for emphasis or effect. Writers employ hyperbole to create emphasis or make a point, such as saying “I’ve told you a million times” to emphasize repetition.

How is the word “trope” used today?

Today, the word “trope” extends beyond its original definition in literature. The word refers to recurring themes, overused motifs and plot devices across various forms of media. It parallels the concept of clichés, particularly in narratives. For instance, in the realm of science fiction, the “chosen one” trope, exemplified by Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars, depicts a character destined to vanquish great evil and restore peace.

Literary tropes enrich your writing with emotion, ambiance, and tone, elevating your readers’ experience. Harness these devices to elevate your writing and foster deeper engagement among your audience. For more forms of figurative language to enhance your writing, learn more writing tips.

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