Kenneth Burke wrote about the Four Master Tropes of “figurative” or “poetic” rhetoric: metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony. He also proposed “literal” or “realistic” versions, respectively: perspective, reduction, representation, and dialectic, and expounded on the correspondence.
Giambattista Vico, who wrote “The New Science”, is usually credited with initially listing these four tropes, but he may have had inspiration from others. Hayden White, who wrote “Metahistory”, was inspired by Burke’s Tropes and proposed that it formed a syncretism with other fourfolds such as political ideologies, Pepper’s world views, and Frye’s literary emplotments.
Frank J. D’Angelo / The Four Master Tropes: Analogues of Development, Rhetoric Review, Vol. 11, No. 1. (Autumn, 1992), pp. 91-107.
Kenneth Burke / Four Master Tropes, The Kenyon Review Vol 3, No 4 (1941) pp. 421-438
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