Vol. 61 No. 1 (2023)

“The Thunder Rolls and the Lightning Strikes”: Pathetic Fallacy as a Multimodal Metaphor

Kimberley Pager-McClymont

Pages: 53-75



Pathetic fallacy (hereafter PF) has received varied definitions by educators, scholars, and literary critics. Pager-McClymont created a model of PF based on a survey of English teachers, using a checklist of stylistic tools and foregrounding theory. The model views PF as a specific type of conceptual metaphor: a master metaphor, and defines it as a projection of emotions from an animated entity onto the surroundings. Three indicators of PF were identified: imagery, repetition, and negation. Furthermore, multiple effects of PF were observed, such as conveying suspense through surroundings, particularly thunder and lightning. In this paper, I explore if Pager-McClymont’s model of PF can be applied to texts from popular culture, such as the television show RuPaul’s Drag Race, the film Clue, and the song “The Thunder Rolls”. The analysis employs McIntyre’s multimodal stylistic methodology to the texts’ transcripts and focuses on the multimodal presentation of PF’s criteria and indicators. Findings show that PF’s effects are present in popular culture texts and contribute to enriching suspense, thus making Pager-McClymont’s model of PF applicable to everyday entertainment.


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