Advanced Figurative Language Tropes and Schemes
What Is Figurative Language? • Language that plays with the meanings or sounds of words to enhance imagery, add layers of meaning, direct the readers’ attention in a particular way or to add power. • Tropes & Schemes
TROPES • A literary trope is the usage of figurative language in literature, or a figure of speechin which words are used in a sense different from their literal meaning. The term trope derives from the Greek τρόπος - tropos "turn, direction, way", related to the root of the verb τρέπειν (trepein), "to turn, to direct, to alter, to change".
TROPES: Metaphors, et al. • A metaphor compares two things (without using like, as, or similar language). • Similes (use like, as, &c.) • Personifications • Metonymy • Synecdoche
TROPES: Metaphors • Compare two things without like or as • Descriptive – “Your eyes are stars.” • Abstract – “Mercy is the gentle rain that falleth from heaven upon the place beneath.” (paraphrase) • Embedded – “The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the windowpane…” • Allegory is an extended metaphor
Metaphor & Simile Exercise • They were very lazy and slept all day • They were lazy sloths and slept all day. • The greedy oil companies destroyed the native culture. • The greedy oil companies invaded like barbarian hordes and decimated the native culture. • The woman cried a lot. • The woman seeped tears like water from a spring.
TROPES: Personification • May be a metaphor or a simile • Why use personification? • The sun glories in his strength • The ambitious cat strove to make himself leader of the neighborhood toms. • The stubborn door refused to open. • Exercise: • The door slammed on his thumb. • The shoe squeaked as she walked. • The shrimp fled the fish.
TROPES: Metonymy • An attribute of the thing being described is used to indicate the whole • “Capital must talk to labor.”
TROPES: Synecdoche (I) • Genus for species or species for genus • “Weapon” for sword • “Creature” for man • “Bread” for food • “Cutthroat” for assassin • Part for whole • “Hands” for helpers • “Roofs” for houses
TROPES: Synecdoche (II) • Matter for the material from which it is made • “Silver” for money • “Dust” for humans (in a Biblical context) • “Flesh” and blood for humans • “Steel” for sword
Metonymy and Synecdoche Exercise Why use Metonymy & Synecdoche? • He drew his sword and cut the child down • He drew his weapon and cut the child down • The writer is more powerful than the soldier • The pen is mightier than the sword • The pundits had predicted that Minnie Mouse would be elected president • The talking heads had predicted that Minnie Mouse would be elected president
TROPES: Stretching • Hyperbole – “My mother’s going to kill me” • Satire – Humorous exaggeration of people, behavior or actions to make a point • Parody – Exaggeration or distortion of a particular form or work (art, words, texts, film noir, pastorals, etc.)
TROPES: Shrinking, &c. • Understatement – “The presidential election has taken a little bit longer than expected” • (Verbal) Irony – The significance of the statement is the opposite of the meaning of the words – “Khruschev was such a well-mannered, self-controlled gentelman” • (Situational) Irony – the outcome differs radically from the expectation.
TROPES:Paradox & Oxymoron • Paradox - an apparent contradiction that induces a reconsideration of words in question. “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39). • Oxymoron – two words which form a contradiction. Dry rain, burning cold, apathetic alertness, &c.
TROPES:Litotes • Litote is a figure of speech in which understatement is employed for rhetorical effect when an idea is expressed by a denial of its opposite, principally via double negatives. For example, rather than saying that something is attractive (or even very attractive), one might merely say it is "not unattractive."
Litote Exercise Litote As a means of saying good an impressive city It was a useful sword She’s old Like… You are right… • not bad • "[…] no ordinary city." Acts 21:39 (NIV) • "That [sword] was not useless to the warrior now.” (Beowulf) • She is not quite as young as she was • Not unlike… • You are not wrong…
Onomatopoeia Swooshed Spat Crackle Ululation Growl Susurration Clack Murmur Alliteration Thou still unravished bride of quietness, Thou foster child of silence and slow time. By the margin, willow-veiled, slide the heavy barges, trailed by slow horses. And, unhailed, the shallop flitteth, silken-sailed, skimming down to Camelot. SCHEMES: Sounds
SCHEMES: Juxtaposed Meanings • Parallelism – repeating a grammatical structure • Antithesis – contrasting 2 opposites – most effectively employed in parallel It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
SCHEMES: Word Order • Anaphora – repetition of a word for effect BASSANIO: Sweet Portia, If you did know to whom I gave the ring, If you did know for whom I gave the ring And would conceive for what I gave the ring And how unwillingly I left the ring, When nought would be accepted but the ring, You would abate the strength of your displeasure. PORTIA: If you had known the virtue of the ring, Or half her worthiness that gave the ring, Or your own honour to contain the ring, You would not then have parted with the ring.
SCHEMES: Word Order (II) • Tricolon crescans – three elements presented in increasing order • “Young man, sit in that corner and do not move, do not talk, do not breathe!” • Inversion – changing the usually order of the syntax • “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask only what you can do for your country.”
Beware! • Clichés – figurative devices that have lost their energy through familiarity and long use. • Mixed metaphors – changing image midway – also saps language of its power • Unduly slanted language / connotations – inappropriate use of a particular image
Beware! - Examples • The political machine was as pervasive as kudzu, and it chewed up and digested unwary townspeople. • The bus was like a growling dinosaur, belching smoke and fire. • Mother Theresa distributed food to the orphans with the efficiency of a shark. • Vote for Fred: he’ll slash taxes like an ax-murderer!