Author Topic: What's that word for when...  (Read 356 times)

What's that word for when...
« on: June 13, 2018, 12:35:40 PM »
...stormy weather is used as a way of enhancing or foreshadowing ominously portentous or threatening events in stories?

I'm sure there's a word for it, I just can't think what it is.

Re: What's that word for when...
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 12:54:08 PM »
It's always taught in school as being "pathetic fallacy", but it's sort of bollocks, inasmuch as its not a term you'd get away with using outside the context of GCSE/maybe A Level English (i.e., in a published review, in university or academia). The phrase was actually coined by Ruskin to mean any sort of personification of the natural world. As Wikipedia has it:

Quote
Ruskin coined the term "pathetic fallacy" to attack the sentimentality that was common to the poetry of the late 18th century, and which was rampant among poets including Burns, Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats. Wordsworth supported this use of personification based on emotion by claiming that "objects ... derive their influence not from properties inherent in them ... but from such as are bestowed upon them by the minds of those who are conversant with or affected by these objects."...

The meaning of the term has changed significantly from the idea Ruskin had in mind. Ruskin's original definition is "emotional falseness", or the falseness that occurs to one's perceptions when influenced by violent or heightened emotion. For example, when a person is unhinged by grief, the clouds might seem darker than they are, or perhaps mournful or perhaps even uncaring.

There have been other changes to Ruskin's phrase since he coined it: The particular definition that Ruskin used for the word "fallacy" has since become obsolete. The word "fallacy" nowadays is defined as an example of a flawed logic, but for Ruskin and writers of the 19th century and earlier, "fallacy" could be used to mean simply a "falseness".In the same way, the word "pathetic" simply meant for Ruskin "emotional" or "pertaining to emotion".

I'm not sure when or how it wormed its way into the English GCSE syllabus with the very specific, weather-bound meaning it holds today.

Re: What's that word for when...
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 01:27:59 PM »
Interesting post, soup, but not actually the word I had in mind. Unless my mind has deceived me.

Re: What's that word for when...
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2018, 01:40:29 PM »
I'd like not to be made fun of for this, but I suppose it's inevitable:

I didn't learn this until I was being trained to teach English.

Not at GCSE, A-Level or even DEGREE level, did I know what this was.

I still don't think I actually believe in it, if that makes sense, like, I can't imagine writing "the writer's use of pathetic fallacy in the opening paragraphs" and not thinking "hmmm. That doesn't wash".

Re: What's that word for when...
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2018, 02:02:08 PM »
Bastard, I was convinced it was pathetic fallacy you were looking for. Now I'm stymied.

magval, how old are you? If you never learnt it at school it might help us pinpoint when this entered the syllabus. It's a source of minor intrigue to me at this point: as you say, the use of it doesn't wash at all, and it survives almost entirely as a weird isolated confection of the UK's English syllabus (I assume, I wouldn't know about the yanks, aussies etc.).

Re: What's that word for when...
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2018, 02:12:55 PM »
31 now, I sat GCSE English in 2003. I'm sure it would have been covered, too, because we did Macbeth. It's not like I didn't pay attention, I remember all sorts of little bits from GCSE English and Macbeth in particular, but I remember being in a "here's how your teaching's going" meeting over in England and one of the other staff members from another department bursting in to ask us what pathetic fallacy meant, in a total panic, and not having a clue myself and even sort of doubting the answer.

I made a point never to teach it in any of my lessons, too, as it feels like something that's only included in essays for points, part of a wholly inorganic way of approaching critical analysis in what is already too much like a conveyor line of churning out identical responses. "Write that it's pathetic fallacy for half a mark", that sort of thing.

It's a bullshit term.

Re: What's that word for when...
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2018, 02:30:37 PM »
Interesting. I sat mine in '08 so I wonder if I was one of the first to receive this little nugget of wisdom. I'm not sure I ever would have used it - there is, as you say, something very clumsy and inorganic about it. You sound like a great teacher though.

Re: What's that word for when...
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2018, 02:47:16 PM »
I am not presently teaching but when I'm actually in the classroom, aye, I do alright. Those jobs aren't easy come by in NI though, and if I'm honest, I don't want to teach full time.

The training was gas, though.

Re: What's that word for when...
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2018, 02:48:35 PM »
...stormy weather is used as a way of enhancing or foreshadowing ominously portentous or threatening events in stories?

I'm sure there's a word for it, I just can't think what it is.

TV Tropes has it as simply 'A Storm Is Coming'. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AStormIsComing

Maybe 'ominous foreshadowing' is appropriate here?

Rocket Surgery

  • gurgled beyond recognition
Re: What's that word for when...
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2018, 04:52:27 PM »
Laziness.