Heartless was released as a single in promotion of his album 808s & Heartbreak. It peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart’s (West.Genius.com.”Heartless.”). The song “Heartless” by Kanye West, demonstrates negativity and how we deal with loss. He conveys this negative attitude using tones that are bitter, mournful, and gloomy. If we examine “Heartless” using the elements of style repetition, figurative language, such as metaphor, simile and hyperbole, and characters, we can show the negative attitude.
Heartless is about a troubled relationship. West is reflecting on the toxic relationship he was once stuck in. The two can’t stay out of each other’s lives and continue to argue and the relationship becomes toxic. Her and his friends become involved and influence her decisions whether to stay or leave. In the end, he decides to leave and says she’ll never find someone better than he.
Repetition gives weight and seriousness to a work (Handout). Repetition could show the severity of a subject and how the writer feels towards it. In the song, “Heartless” by Kanye West, repetition is a common trait. Words such as “heartless”, “talking”, and ”they” are repeated multiple times in this song to show the tones, bitter, mournful, and gloomy.
Heartless is repeated 12 times in the entire song. In the chorus West repeats “heartless” a number of times in order to show tones. In the quote, “How could you be so heartless” (West.Genius.com.”Heartless”), he implies that his significant other is showing little emotion toward him and is neglecting their relationship. Her heartless behavior is pushing him away when he just wants to stay. West is being very bitter toward his significant other and the way she’s acting. She isn’t the person that West first met and it is driving him crazy. Reminiscing on the good times are what got him through the day, but, the good times had ended.
Talking is repeated 6 times over the course of the song. Talking is used to represent Kanye’s significant other speaking about their relationship to her friends and saying things behind his back. “They don’t know what we been through” (L40). Although the word talking is not used in the sentence the overall idea is conveyed. Her friends are speaking about their relationship and influencing her decisions when they are not a part of the relationship and don’t know the hardships they went through. The more she involves her friends, the further she pushes West away.
They is only used in the song twice but the overall idea is conveyed 6 more times. In the quote, “They don’t know ‘bout me and you” (L41). West is showing that her friends and outside forces are messing with her own decision making. Hence why he is telling her they don’t know about their relationship and what they go through. He is tired of her letting other people dictate how and what she does in their relationship. West has begun to become gloomy about the relationship and the way it is going. He could tell the relationship was coming to a close and he was trying desperately to change that. The only people who should know the inner workings of their relationship should be them. Yet, she involves an unnecessary third party.
Figurative Language uses concrete words in a nonliteral way to create sharply etched sensory images that catch and hold the reader’s attention (Reinking and Von Deroslen. 133). Figurative Language is a vital part of any piece of literature, it draws the attention and intrigues the reader. Many different figurative devices are used in the song “Heartless” by Kanye West, such as metaphor, simile, and hyperbole. All three devices enhance the tones bitter, mournful, and gloomy.
Metaphors state directly, or imply, the comparison (Handout). In the song West has been in a toxic relationship and his significant other is forcing him to act in ways he deems unnatural. “How could you be so Dr. Evil, you bringin’ out a side of me that I don’t know” (West.Genius.com.”Heartless”). West’s relationship brought out sides of him that he didn’t even know existed. West is bitter that the relationship went so badly. The relationship drove him over the edge and he couldn’t take it anymore. No matter how badly he wanted the relationship to work, it was a lost cause. West despised this side of himself and wishes things would go back to normal so he could be normal again.
Similes express the comparison by using a connection such as like or as (Handout). Throughout the song West compares his significant other to the cold or being cold. “How could you be so, cold as the winter wind when it breeze, yo” (West.Genius.com.”Heartless”). West’s significant other is cold towards him or neglects him in the relationship. West compares her to the winter wind and it fits perfectly. Clearly here West is being mournful of his past relationship with his significant other. The entire song is a reflection on the rough end of the time they spent together.
Hyperbole expresses more than is meant (Handout). A hyperbole can be used to show exaggeration and the drama of the moment. West shows that he believes his significant other is heartless and he lost his own soul to her. “Somewhere far along this road, he lost his soul to a woman so heartless” (West.Genius.com.”Heartless”). West’s significant other is so neglectful of him and their relationship that he believes she is heartless and lost his soul to her. The idea of him losing his soul to her shows how much she is hurting their relationship and him. West shows how he is being gloomy that he feels as though he lost his soul to her. He thought something like that would never happen.
In writing about characters, you are attempting to share your insights about what might be distinctive about them, what we could learn from them, or how we might reconsider them (Reinking and Von Deroslen. 323). Characters can be used to show their role in the story and how vital they are to the progression of the story. In the song, “Heartless”, by Kanye West, West himself, his significant other, and their respective friend groups are the characters I’ll be focusing on. All three show bitter, mournful, and gloomy tones.
In the song, “Heartless”, West refers to himself on multiple occasions. He describes the relationship, what it’s doing to him, and how he feels about it. “You’ll never find nobody better than me” (West.Genius.com”Heartless”).West is showing that his significant other is ruining their relationship and she will never find anybody better than him. He is the best she has and will ever have. West is showing that she’s throwing away the good things in her life. West is showing that he is bitter that she’s throwing away the relationship he wishes he still had. West is showing that after the relationship is over she’ll never be happy like she was with him.
Another character of the song is his significant other. She seems to be the focus of the entire song. She’s created the toxic portion of the relationship and has caused all these problems. “So you walk around like you don’t know me” (L14). She pretends to be involved with him and the relationship but in public she acts as if she doesn’t know him and they aren’t together. West is gloomy in this situation. She isn’t being public with their relationship and it’s disrespectful to him. Not showing she’s in a relationship shows her unfaithful side and more reasons why the relationship has turned toxic. This must have made a huge impact on West and his personal life.
Lastly, both of their friend groups play a big part in this song too. They act as a third party and influence the both of them to make the decisions they make. “You run and tell your friends that you’re leaving me / They say they don’t see what you see in me” (L30). His significant other is running to her friends and sharing details of their relationship that doesn’t involve them and should be private. Her friends are giving their opinions and influencing how she acts and what she does. West is very unpopular within her friends and they urge her to leave him. Also, West goes to his friends too. “Homie I don’t know, she’s hot and cold” (L26). Mournful of the relationship, West went to his friends and told them what was going on. He implied she was hot and cold, or indecisive. Unaware of what to do West involves his friends in the matter also.
“Heartless”, by Kanye West, is a song that demonstrates negativity about how we deal with the loss of a relationship. The tones bitter, mournful, and gloomy are evident in the song. Using the elements of style such as repetition, figurative language, such as metaphor, simile, and hyperbole, and characters, I analyzed this song to prove the tones and negative attitude.