Tropes and Schemes — Sneaky Sounding Figures Of SpeechDec 01
At first glance, the words ‘Tropes and Schemes’ probably seem rather sneaky sounding and even distrustful. So what does it mean? Is it a way of saying that you are misleading the reader through your writing? Perhaps a way of writing mystery novels? Is it when the character is being diabolical? Maybe you are playing a prank as the author.
Actually, it is none of these, and the words are not nearly as sneaky as they sound. In fact, both ‘tropes’ and ‘schemes’ have the same basic meaning: they both denote change.
That’s right, each is just a fancy way of saying that something in the sentence, paragraph of literary section is about to be altered in some way that is perhaps unexpected. But this being said, they do not both have the exact same definition.
What Are Tropes?
The basic definition of a trope is using a phrase, word or visual description in a way that is not strictly expected or usual. A trope will change the context of any situation by altering the way it is interpreted.
A simile is an example of a trope. With this form of rhetoric you take two objects not connected by anything but vague similarities.
“Looking into her eyes, I couldn’t help but think they were green like forests untouched by the hand of man.”
Notice that this use of a simile changes words and phrases to give them a meaning other than what might be expected in its more direct form.
What Are Schemes?
No, they aren’t plans by a megalomaniac to take over the world. They are a rhetoric device that changes the regular order or pattern of a piece of writing.
Unlike tropes that work to shift the meaning of something, the scheme will just change the format. This is usually seen in creative writing, where it is more forgivable to break with tradition and use imaginative methods of conveying any point to the reader.
Anaphora is a good example of of a scheme. This is when you repeat the first part of a sentence over and over again to help push a point or convince the person reading or listening.
“I did not back out of my campaign promises. I did not fail to increase the education budget. I did not stop putting pressure on insurance companies to lower premiums. I did not fail to bring down the national unemployment percentage. I did not step back from any of the challenges I swore to you I would tackle in my first term.”
Another scheme is antithesis.
Why Use Tropes and Schemes?
These two forms of rhetorical figures of speech are usually done for one specific purpose: to evoke a response. Specifically an emotional response or one that will help to pull the reader or listener into a place where they are more receptive.
You most commonly see examples of this in every day life with politicians or advertisers, both of which use tropes and schemes to appeal to their demographic.
Pretty nifty, huh?