October 29, 2012
Tropes, Ropes, and Catholic Popes
Killingsworth’s essay on tropes brought up a lot of familiar ideas while helping to make the connections between things easier to identify. The best thing about his essay, though, is that he found a much simpler way of explaining what Lakoff and Johnson meant to say in Metaphors We Live By. Our minds automatically create metaphors without our deliberate action. I like his use of the word trope because, as he says, it is more inclusive than “figure of speech,” and created a familiarity that made it much easier to get into the article. To me, going into this reading, a trope is a recurring scenario in television or film. It is a formula that writers use to help them formulate stories. For example, the “dragon” trope consists of the main villain having a subordinate who acts as the main physical obstacle. Maybe the most famous example is Emperor Palpatine and his “dragon” Darth Vader. This relationship can be seen in many examples, and it is thus a trope (www.tvtropes.org). This essay expanded that idea in my mind to literature and everyday speech. Metaphors, metonyms, synecdoche, and irony become tropes because they are frequently occurring formulas in language. They aren’t as formulaic as TV tropes, but they can be thought of in a similar way.