A trope can be a literary device or figure of speech that writers and speakers use to create new meanings and expressions. Writers use tropes to convey ideas and emotions in ways that are meaningful for their readers. In this way, tropes are devices for communicating meaning through language.
The word trope comes from the Greek word tropos, which means “a turn” or “a manner of speaking.”
Examples of literary tropes include:
Alliteration (the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of words).
Anachronism (the use of an out-of-date word or phrase).
Assonance (the repetition of vowel sounds in words).
Aubergine (a word that sounds like what it means; for example, “purple prose”).
Tropes are often used as literary devices to create suspense, humor, or emotional impact. For example:
A character may undergo a journey of self-discovery by changing their behavior or beliefs over time. This is called the “coming-of-age” trope.
A main character may be tempted by the devil on multiple occasions before succumbing to evil’s influence (this is known as the “Satan’s bargain” trope).
An author may use an unreliable narrator — someone who misleads readers with false information — to create suspense and tension in their story (this is an example of the “unreliable narrator” trope).