What Is a Cliché?
A cliché is an expression that has been used so many times that it no longer has any impact. One might also call a sequence of events that has been imitated often in the past a cliché. Giving someone a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a dozen red roses is a chiché; so is going on a honeymoon to Hawaii. New clichés develop with each generation, and sometimes a cliché can become novel again just by virtue of the fact that so much time has passed.
How Do You Identify a Cliché in Writing?
Since the beginning of the industrial era, writers have been interested in creating original ideas and plots. The word "novel" itself means "new." However, literature is an imitative form, and over the same time period, subgenres have developed that rely on clichés to provide their readers with familiar themes and plots. Romance novels are one such genre. They are filled with clichés about femininity and masculinity, which keep their readers coming back for more.
Another type of literary cliché that may be harder to recognize is the archetypal heroine or villain. Disney movies rely on these clichés often in their films. Cruella De Vil is a stereotypical villain, while Cinderella represents the cliché of a beautiful, innocent, and victimized heroine.
Examples of Cliché
1. "It was a dark and stormy night" is the classic opening of a hard-boiled detective novel.
2. "They all lived happily ever after" is a cliché that several books and movies try to debunk.
3. Hiring a bouncy castle for a kid’s birthday party is fun — but also a cliché.
4. The scene in a scary movie when the main character locks all the doors and breathes a sigh of relief, only to realize the monster is inside the house with her, is a tried and true cinematic cliché.
5. When the head cheerleader goes out with the captain of the football team, it is a real life cliché.
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