What is a “trope” in literature?

Updated 21 March, 2023
A trope in literature is a common storytelling device or figure of speech used to convey a message, theme, or emotion. Tropes are often used as a way to quickly communicate a familiar concept or idea to the reader or viewer. For example, the "damsel in distress" is a common trope in many stories where a female character needs to be rescued by a male hero. Similarly, the "chosen one" is another popular trope where a protagonist is destined for greatness and must save the world. Tropes can be used in a variety of genres and mediums, including literature, film, television, and video games.
Detailed answer:

A trope in literature is a common or recurring motif or theme that is used to convey a particular message or meaning. Tropes can take many forms, including symbols, metaphors, and similes, and they can be used to convey a wide range of ideas, from themes of love and death to those of power and corruption.

One of the most common tropes in literature is the "hero's journey," which involves a hero who sets out on a quest, faces obstacles and challenges, and ultimately triumphs over adversity. This trope can be found in many works of literature, from ancient myths and legends to modern-day novels and films.

Another example of a literary trope is the "love triangle," which involves a romantic relationship between three characters. This trope is often used in romance novels and soap operas to create tension and drama.

Tropes can also be used to subvert traditional storytelling conventions and expectations, creating new and unexpected narratives. For example, the trope of the "damsel in distress," in which a female character is in need of rescue by a male hero, has been subverted in recent years to create stories in which the female character is the hero and the rescuer.

Overall, tropes play an important role in literature, providing readers with familiar and recognizable patterns and themes while also allowing for creative and innovative storytelling.

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