Poetry Essay Writing Tips: How To Analyze The Use Of Tropes

The word trope is derived from the Greek word 'tropes' which means 'to turn'. It can therefore be comfortably stated that a trope is a way or rather a stylistic device of truing the conventional meaning of words into something else. In other words, it is a figure of thought, mostly used in poetry. To fully understand and effectively analyze the use of tropes in a poetical piece, one must first understand the four types of tropes a poet might use in his or her composition. The four types or rather categories of tropes include:

  • Metaphors
  • Metonymies
  • Synecdoche
  • Ironies


It is a trope in which an implied or abstract comparison is made between two unlike objects that have something is common. Metaphors often express the unfamiliar (tenor) in terms of the familiar (vehicle). When a poet writes 'Love is a daisy' 'daisy' is the vehicle for love which is the 'tenor'. Note that in cognitive and advanced linguistics, the terms target and source are always used interchangeably for tenor and vehicle.


It is a trope in which a phrase or word is substituted for another. Normally, the words used must be closely associated. 'Royalty' may be used for 'crown' or 'devil' for 'demon'. In a nutshell, metonymy is a form of rhetorical strategy used to describe something indifferently by simply referring to things around it. It could be as simple as describing a lady's clothing to characterize her.


It is arguably the simplest form of trope to analyze. A part of an object is simply used to represent a whole. For instance in the Lord's prayer, '...give us this day our daily bread..' bread is used to represent all types of food. Another example would be 'Germany won the World Cup'. The 11 soccer players who participated in the game represent the whole nation of Germany.


They are just as popular as metonymies. An irony is in the simplest words possible, the use of words to bring out the opposite of their literal meaning. Better yet, it is a situation or a statement where the meaning of an object or word is intentionally contradicted by the presentation or appearance of the idea. There are three types of ironies. The first one - verbal irony - is a trope whereby the intended meaning or a word or phrase contracts with what the phrase appears to express. Then there is situational irony which involves incongruity and stark contrast between what is expected and what unfolds. The last type, dramatic irony is a trope produced by a narrative where the audience already knows more about an object than a character in a prose.