A subtext is a hidden or non-obvious meaning to something. It's a term from literary criticism that has become more mainstream. The idea is that a work of art has a meaning that is obvious, or overt, but carries other, perhaps unintentional, meanings.

So, you might watch a Roadrunner cartoon; on the surface, it's just a funny cartoon, but its subtext could be interpreted as:

  • Violence is fun.
  • Violence is bad. If you try to hurt someone else, you will hurt yourself instead.
  • It's OK to laugh at unlucky, starving people.
  • Relying on technology is dangerous.
  • When we try too hard, we fail.

You could also refer to the subtext of a situation, like a business meeting, a political rally, or a drunken frat party. Ah, the joys of semiotics.

There are words considered
But not spoken

This is the fingertip, tracing the lip of the glass
A lock of hair, twirled
Lips bitten - toes squeezed

Although her gaze is averted
Eyelashes flutter

He cannot read her mind
But when he winks-
She blushes, in spite of herself
Then he knows all.

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