Talk:Trope (literature)

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"constitutive of our experience"[edit]

This is an abstruse and overblown claim. We shouldn't be running around willy-nilly throwing quotes in Wikipedia just because an academic ejaculated them. One also shouldn't have to read through an entire scholarly paper cited here just to see if some lofty-sounding claim is justified. Please tone down the postmodern mumbo jumbo or at least attempt to provide some intelligible explanation. Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Csdavis1 (talkcontribs) 07:35, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

Is your concern that the reference given does not support this sentence, that the reference is not of sufficient quality or standing to be used in a Wikipedia article, or that you simply don't agree with its sentiments? Citation always assumes that the first two conditions are met, so why you should single out this instance in particular is not clear. Would it be sufficient to re-from the sentence slightly so that it is clear that the concept, or claim as you put it, being described is specific to a particular theoretical approach to literary trope? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:42, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Literature and Linguistics[edit]

A trope in literature little different from a trope in linguistics, so this article is superfluous; and it seems more interested in defining 'topos' anyway, which it does in a highly contentious way ('meme'? I thought the jury was still out there) - 'topos' in literature is simply a commonplace. And a wikipedia article probably isn't the place to start suggesting how one might conduct a creative writing class ...

00:28, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

Ah, but you do recognize a difference, despite being little. And literary critics are not all linguists. I don't think the little-different literary sense would be appreciated as simply a side-note mention in a linguistic discussion. It is important to recognize the sense of the word "trope" within the literature discipline. As mentioned under "A Fresh Start," literary analysis employs the word "trope," and I don't think the word is used to spark a debate about Aristotle's "topos" (although that discussion does exist). Conversely, "topos" is not some commonplace ingredient of literature; even if so, that's not a ground to resist discussion of the idea. Obviously, this entire concept is not understood by some, further justifying the need for an article on the topic. I won't touch the mention of Abrams as an authority... --Malecasta (talk) 00:38, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. This needs work. Cory.willis 05:43, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

This article is about "trope" and spends its time discussion "topos". This is kind of silly. Goldfritha 18:48, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Since no one has substantiated the claim that "trope" is wrong, I'm removing it. Goldfritha 02:29, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

The definition of "tropos" here is almost completely in opposition with the definitions I've found elsewhere. Merriam-Webster defines it as: 1 a : a word or expression used in a figurative sense : FIGURE OF SPEECH b : a common or overused theme or device : CLICHE <the usual horror movie tropes> 2 : a phrase or verse added as an embellishment or interpolation to the sung parts of the Mass in the Middle Ages

Neither during my extensive studies nor in my several editions of M. H. Abrams's A Glossary of Literary Terms have I ever come across a definition of “trope” coming even remotely close to the one exhibited on this page. Since this definition seems (a) rather related to the term “topos” and (b) insufficently so at best, I'd suggest it be deleted—barring someone comes forward with a substantiated argument in its favor soon.
gyokusai 17:10, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

I don't think this is a distinction between the linguistic usage of trope and the literary usage of trope. I think this is a distinction between the academic usage and the common usage. The trouble is that only academics are interested in its use in linguistics, but the common man does take an interest in literature, or TV and movies. So somebody who was used to using the "common" meaning of it applied to stories, saw the definition talking about "figures of speech" and "metaphors" and 1) Failed to consider language is a pretty important part of literature 2) Didn't want to think of their own understanding of the word as "uneducated" I've seen "trope" used in a film studies text, and it used it in a sense closer to the one currently classified as "linguistics" even though you'd expect film to bear more in common with literature. The book treated it as a "story telling shorthand" and cited an example of a marching army being represented by a row of spears.

RRH - 19 September 2007 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:43, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Excuse me RRH (unsigned), but not only is the spears/army example 100 per cent compliant with a well-defined linguistic trope easily found in that section, the phrasing “story telling shorthand” too is quite appropriate to describe how linguistic tropes often work (for examples see Abrams again). Futhermore, you don’t give any references or examples for your alleged “common” usage and meaning. Finally, I do not think that the term “trope” is in “common” usage at all, neither in tv parlance, nor in newspapers, nor in the streets. (The book you’ve quoted from without further reference is also an academic one, b.t.w.)
So can anyone come forward with concrete, manifest, palpable examples and references for this “trope in literature” which for all the evidence brought up so far is nothing but an erroneous use for “topos,” please?
gyokusai 12:53, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Gyokusai, I agree with you more than you might think. My interest in this definition came about because of a post I made on asking that more effort should be made to clarify the definition of trope, because I felt many people on the site were using it incorrectly. (Try not to read too much of that site, or you'll tear your hair out.) The book was "How to Read a Film" by James Monaco. I could try to find the page and quote, but I intended it as an example of academic usage.
As for this nebulous "other" meaning, I guess I shouldn't say it's a "common" meaning, since for all I know it's a variance particular only to far too many people who post to The Merriam-Webster definition mentions "cliche" which is a meaning that you could probably find in use in newspaper movie reviews, but not in academia.
RRH 03:52, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

A Fresh Start[edit]

I removed the grossly misleading redirect (there is a considerable difference between literature and linguistics) and wrote from scratch a new stub. Contributions/expansions welcome. Please do not be tempted to make this page an exhaustive list of tropes; if you must, start a new list page. See also here for a list of some character-related tropes. Freederick 20:32, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

  • I have added a few tropes, but have kept close to the secondary source from which this list came [1].--Gavin Collins (talk) 09:04, 19 May 2008 (UTC)


I corrected the historically unjustified relation of trope with τροπή inserted by The Cat and the Owl. It is falsified by OED, Merriam-Webster, and Larousse Dictionnaire, and of course it doesn't explain the Latin tropus; see also Talk:Trope (linguistics). Omnipedian (talk) 05:02, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Duplicate Article[edit]

Trope (linguistics) and Trope (Literature) should be merged into one article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:03, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. The articles most overlap and are largely redundant. Ross Fraser (talk) 02:23, 25 July 2010 (UTC)


I came here from 'TV Tropes' after visiting a dictionary. I could understand 'words used in a different sense' in an abstract way, but concrete examples would have let me confirm that I've 'grokked'... and make the article more educational for younger readers.
Common examples are used with article figure of speech to great effect. Maybe a common example could be included with each item in the list of types of tropes. E.g. for 'metonymy' the short example 'fishing for information'. Also it'd be helpful to distinguish 'trope' from 'figure of speech' (why are there separate articles?) - again, possibly including examples of common patterns, themes, motifs which are -not- figures of speech. No doubt these terms are quite familiar for very literate people (who'll probably not show up here), but need to be spelled out more so that more people can be literate.
Admittedly I have a problem with much of Wikipedia being technically correct but not very accessible when it comes to disciplinary jargon. Examples sometimes help cut the Gordian knots.Twang (talk) 04:55, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

I learned about the literary device of a "trope" in my 8th grade English reading and comprehension class in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in public school. Please do not be self-deprecating, Twang (upon re-reading your comment, i don't think you were now). I agree with you, that this article could benefit from more short examples of usage.

In my opinion, it should be kept distinct from topos and linguistic trope. Yet it still may be appropriate to merge this article with Linguistic Tropes, in two different sections of the same article. Alternatively, this article could be combined with another literary device article that was similar, to provide more context and examples as you mentioned.--FeralOink (talk) 17:37, 8 November 2012 (UTC)


How is a trope different from a meme? --Uncle Ed (talk) 18:15, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

Trope pre-dated meme by at least a century. I'm still not sure what a meme is! --FeralOink (talk) 17:30, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
There are multiple modern definitions of a meme, generally used in different ways by different communities. On Reddit, facebook, imageboards and forums, it usually connotes that whole "image with impact font text" thing, but the scientific definition was originated by Dawkins. The second is generally only used in academic discussion. (talk) 11:10, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Different from Definition on Disambiguous page[edit]

This definition is different from that given on the disambiguity page (Trope (literature) or Literary trope, a common theme used in storytelling.) and seems to be the same as that used in linguistics. In my (limited) experience, the definition used on the disambiguity page more closely matches how trope is used in literature... to define a common uage not to play against it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:57, 24 July 2010 (UTC)


This article (trope (literature)) and trope (linguistics) were tagged for merging by Robertgreer on 21 May 2010. Two existing sections on this Talk page already address the same issue: -Literature and Linguistics-, and -Duplicate Article-. Also, at Talk:trope (linguistics), another section titled -Duplicate Article- exists, analogous to the one here. The only concern voiced about merging seems to be in the -Literature and Linguistics- section here, with some posts emphasizing that there is a difference in the meaning of trope in a literary versus linguistic sense. I would offer that such does not preclude inclusion in the same article; indeed, doing so may be more edifying. Perhaps the conflict is more about what parenthetical modifier to use for the title of a merged article. In any case, the information in the two articles is definitey overlapping, and neither is particularly long. I add myself to the number supporting a merge. The matter of the title could be considered separately; perhaps something subsuming would be most appropriate, e.g. trope (figure of speech). Regarding a merge, note also the list of tropes at figure of speech. ENeville (talk) 23:26, 2 August 2010 (UTC)


Agreed. These fractured articles that leave the reader chasing links from one article to another (overlapping) article do a disservice to those simply trying to understand the term. The articles should be merged. Ross Fraser (talk) 21:57, 22 August 2010 (UTC)


If merging is to be implemented then the lead topic should not indicate a frame of reference (linguistics or literature, which could be handled separately within the article). Discussion of the term under the two contexts is quite different. Under linguistics the exploration of "trope" is ultimately a commentary on neural structure and functioning in respect to relevance assessments. Alternatively, in the context of literature exploration of the term provides perspective on famous uses of tropes. JPBarbuto (talk) 13:28, 27 October 2011 (UTC)


Done; could somebody more involed in this do a cleanup, please? — Robert Greer (talk) 23:18, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

Copyright problem removed[edit]

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Lead Section does not meet Wiki standards.[edit]

Where to begin!? What a mess. I'll begin with the good parts: the first half of the first paragraph. The rest does not meet wiki specs, not even close. Please see: Wikipedia:Manual of Style (lead section).

Clues? More specifically, especially the Lead should be understandable to the general public: "accessible." Particularly in the Lead one should not rely on lazy-links (where zero attempt is made in-text to explain jargon). Inappropriate jargon is always poor writing. (If you do not see inappropriate jargon, or do not consider it to be sloppy/lazy/etc writing, you have no business in this venue.)


Wikipedia articles, and other encyclopedic content, should be written in a formal tone. Standards for formal tone vary depending upon the subject matter, but should follow the style used by reliable sources, while remaining clear and understandable. Formal tone means that the article should not be written using unintelligible argot, slang, colloquialisms, doublespeak, legalese, or jargon; it means that the English language should be used in a businesslike manner. [...Respected.]

"The lead section (also known as the introduction, lead, or lede[1]) of a Wikipedia article is the section before the table of contents and the first heading. The lead serves both as an introduction to the article and as a summary of its most important aspects."
    The Lead is NOT serving as EITHER an introduction NOR "a summary of the article's most important aspects," but rather seems to attempt being the main article, ...which contributes to the above problems...including trying to cover too much with too little.

    "The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview of the article." ... "Significant information should not appear in the lead if it is not covered in the remainder of the article."

But as I hint, my main complaint is that the article, —even the definition is unintelligible, —seems to be substandard writing/communication. Good luck.
-- (talk) 02:45, 5 March 2014 (UTC)Doug Bashford

Proposal for inclusion of "Meme" in the "See Also" section.[edit]

Given that both meanings of Trope used on this page pertain to the repetition of narative elements or leitmotif throughout a work, shouldn't this article also point to the concept of discrete, self contained parts of narrative and their nature as separate from their native opus? Intertextuality is an indispensable component of literary analysis, indeed, sometimes the nature of parts of a work, as parts of a whole is not apparent-yet the continuance of themes makes both essential to the understanding of that whole. For that sufficient reason, as well as many others, equally compelling, I propose that we include Meme in the links enumerated under, "See Also;" a modern discussion of Tropes is not complete without reference to the modern study of clichés, metaphors and literary devices. This page originally included a link to the much more complete, related, Memes article; it should again. (talk) 05:21, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

It looks like Meme was linked in prose, originally, and later also added to the See also section. Then, the article was redirected, then rewritten as a new stub. The See also section then mentioned memes in another entry which was later removed. I don't really see a problem with adding it, as they are often considered related. Adding it back to the prose may even be an option, especially if we find a source. —PC-XT+ 19:27, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

YesYI would support adding Meme, they are related concepts of concepts. Additionally, the "See Also" rules are flexible.

Jonpatterns (talk) 19:46, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

I'd like to have more opinions on this. While I think that the two subjects are interrelated, indeed, I am personally unclear how this topic can be described with no mention of Memes or Intertextuality, (which is also unmentioned,) I am deeply concerned about the possibility of weighting this discussion so much towards the current popular meaning, that the other meanings become obscured. Non recurrent allusions and "tricks of the writer's trade," as well as the expounding on briefer existing texts, could too easily become lost if too much emphasis is placed on Dawkinian "idea viruses" or Intertextual elements of culture- older meanings, still in use might get buried by including such a hip, fashionable and (ironically) prone to expansion, current usage. All related ideas, surely, but with very important distinctions. That said, we might want to examine both merged article's histories, Trope (linguistics) as well as Trope (literature) to determine if important information has been dropped. (talk) 14:10, 24 February 2015 (UTC)