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Related: character - cliché - fiction - figure of speech - genre - metaphor - repetition - stereotype - stock characters and situations

Examples: damsel in distress - death and the maiden - doppelgänger - lesbian vampire - mad scientist - sadistic warden - white slavery - white slavery film

Literary usage of a trope

In literature, a trope is a familiar and repeated symbol, style, character or thing that permeates a particular type of literature. They are usually tied heavily to genre. For example, tropes in horror literature and film include the mad scientist or a dark and stormy night. Tropes can also be plots or events, such as the science fiction trope of an alien invasion that is deterred at the last minute.

Authors that rely on tropes are often seen as unimaginative and dull. However, many authors have twisted tropes into new forms to great success. Stephen King has been noteworthy for taking older horror tropes and reworking them into the modern world to great effect. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trope#Literary_usage [Apr 2005]

Linguistic usage

A trope is a play on words, a word used in something other than what is considered its literal or normal form. It comes from the greek word, tropos, which means a "turn", as in heliotrope, a flower which turns toward the sun. We can imagine a trope as a way of turning a word away from its normal meaning, or turning it into something else.

There are four kinds of tropes:


The final girl trope in slasher films

Carol J. Clover, in her book Men, Women and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, identified what she called the Final Girl trope, the heroic young woman who ultimately survives and defeats the Killer (at least until the sequel). The Final Girl almost invariably has an androgynous name (e.g. Teddy, Billie, Georgie, Sydney) and does not partake of the sex and drugs the other teenagers do. Often, she has shared history with the Killer. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slasher_film [Apr 2004]

From Halloween article
Deeper meaning has been read into Halloween by some film critics, including the idea that everyone who dies in the film is sexually promiscuous, while the "innocent" (chaste) heroine survives. Carpenter has been quoted as saying that inclusion of this sort of morality into the story was entirely unintentional, and he did not mean for the movie to be seen as a form of "punishment" for those who indulge in sex and drug use. And yet the parallel between a character's moral strengths and their likelihood of not getting killed has become a standard slasher movie trope. Critic Roger Ebert has taken to calling this genre the "Dead Teenager Movie", the principal cliché of which is that the only teenager to survive is always the virginal girl who declines all of the vices (pot smoking, etc.) indulged in by those who end up skewered. And some other films in this genre have explored the sexual morality question from the other angle, drawing metaphorical parallels between sexual repression and the acts of the killer (as in William Lustig's Maniac). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_%28movie%29#The_original_blockbuster [Apr 2005]

see also: slasher

Elizabeth Báthory and the sadistic vampiress trope

Elizabeth Báthory (Erzsébet Báthory) (August 7, 1560 - August 21, 1614) was a Hungarian countess, a niece of King Stephen Báthory of Poland. She was a serial killer, reputed to have been responsible for the torture and murder of over six hundred peasants. When her crimes were discovered in 1610, she was tried and imprisoned in solitary confinement, where she died. Her collaborators were executed.

She is thought to have been the origin of numerous vampire myths, the Dracula story, and the trope of the sexually sadistic vampiress in particular. --http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Bathory

Killer clown trope

"the trope of the miserable comic - the familiar and perpetual "tears of a clown" narrative that's an obligatory part of any great humorist's biography. I'm focusing on the career of the Regency pantomimist Joseph Grimaldi, who I contend to be the conscious and unconscious architect of the trope, but to begin, I want to trace a genealogy of how and when clowns changed from being funny to creepy or outright psychotic. Leoncavallo's opera "Pagliacci" (1892) is most likely the killer clown I've found, but I wonder if you know of any more recent ones, actual or fictional."

I've told him of the classic (!) movie "Killer Klowns from Outer Space," and of course, the serial killer John Wayne Gacy. --via http://comm.umn.edu/~grodman/cultstud/ [Jul 2006]

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