What is a Trope?
A trope is a symbol or theme in literature that becomes so common that its use is easily recognized across different works. When I told my parents that I was writing a blog post on tropes they both asked me what a trope was. Once I told them, they both said that they knew what it was, but had never heard the name for it. I assume that this is the case for a lot of people. Here is a list of some well-known tropes that I’m sure people are aware of even if they have heard the word “trope” before.
The chosen one
The wise mentor
Enemies to lovers
The secret heir
Not like other girls
Strong female character
Friends to lovers
The evil overlord
So, why do we love tropes so much? This is the question that I asked myself when I began writing this post. For me, an avid reader, I seek out tropes because I love to see certain scenarios play out. Just like choosing to read a book because it falls into a certain genre, I will pick one if I know that it includes a trope that I like.
I think the answer to my question is simple: we seek out certain tropes because they bring us joy. They may seem overused or cliche, but tropes are popular for a reason. Look at the chosen one trope. It has been used in many popular works of literature including the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games trilogy, and the Percy Jackson series. Yes, it is a common theme, and some may argue that it is overused, but there is a reason that it is so loved! The reader sees a character from humble beginnings grow into a hero that saves the world and feel that, just like their favorite character, they are capable of anything no matter where they came from.
Take the romance genre. Who can resist a story where two childhood best friends realize they want more or sworn enemies realize their room at the inn only has one bed? Maybe after an
argument two lovers have a moment where they run to each other in the rain, after all the heartbreak and confusion the reader gets the satisfaction of finally seeing them together.
Although things like that would most likely never happen in real life, they bring hopeless romantics like me no small amount of joy.
Keeping Tropes Relevant
Recently, tropes have been receiving criticism because of how frequently they are used or because they seem outdated. We have already established that tropes are important. They not only bring us joy but help to establish the genre that we are reading. How can we ensure that tropes stay relevant? What can be done to change how people perceive certain tropes?