What is it about?

In this chapter, in an edited volume about populist discourse, we take a corpus of some 400 Dutch political cartoons published 2006-2017, shortlisted for an annual prize, and inventory (1) how often the right-wing politician Geert Willders features in these cartoons; (2) how often he is portrayed metaphorically; and (3) which metaphors are used in this portrayal. We also chart this for the other Dutch party leaders during this period, allowing for comparisons.

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Why is it important?

Politicians' actions or decisions are portrayed critically and humorously in the genre of political cartoons, whose interpretation should immediately be clear to the envisaged audience (usually: subscribers to the paper in which the cartoon appears, or loyal visitors of a website). The cartoon genre is therefore an excellent genre to evaluate politicians' public reputations, and emphasize the traits that are typically ascribed to them. Since metaphor is abundantly used in cartoons, zooming in on this trope is a highly suitable tool for such evaluations.


The chapter's method of analysis also helps refine metaphor theory. While systematically analyzing the source domains with which a specific target domain (here: Geert Wilders and other Dutch party leaders) is coupled is a standard angle in metaphor research, it is also important to take into account which feature(s) of a source domain is/are mapped -- since many source domains do not in themselves make salient (negative) features that are to be mapped onto the target. For instance, we found that the source domain DOG was used not just for Wilders but also for other politicians, with different meanings depending on which features were to be mapped ("barking," "being obedient," "guarding," "biting" ...) Moreover, we had not anticipated that so few metaphors for Wilders would be used more than once -- until we realized that Dutch cartoonists of course closely monitor the work of their colleagues, and would not want to be seen as copycats by using the same metaphors

Dr Charles Forceville
Universiteit van Amsterdam

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This page is a summary of: Metaphors portraying right-wing politician Geert Wilders in Dutch political cartoons, March 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.4324/9780429026751-18.
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