ELEMENTS OF DRAMA - Literature Notes
(i) Act. This is a major division in the action of a play. It was introduced by Elizabethan dramatists, who had immitated Roman plays by structuring the action into five acts.
(ii) Scene. This describes the subdivision of the Act. In modern plays, this consists of units of action in which there is no change of place, or break in the continuity of time.
(iii) Exposition. The word literally means 'a showing forth' in Latin. Without an exposition, the story makes no sense because it introduces background information about (www.bulbsoup.com) events, setting, characters etc. It can be presented in the form of monologues, dialogues, a protagonist's thoughts, a narrator's explanation of past events and in universe media (newspaper, reports, letters, journals etc.)
(iv) Conflict. The opposition between two characters, between two large groups of people, or between the protagonist and a large problem, such as forces of nature, ideas and public mores. Conflict can be both external and internal, and it drives the plot of a story. Multiple conflicts can occur simultaneously in complex works of literature.
(v) Complication. The difficult circumstances that come about through the characters attempt to find solutions to his/ her problems.
(vi) Climax. This comes from the Greek word 'ladder'. It is the moment in a play, novel, short story or narrative point at which the crises reaches its greatest intensity, and is eventually resolved. It is the peak of the emotional response from a reader or spectator, and is usually the turning point of the action. It usually follows, or overlaps, with the crises of a story.
(vii) Denouement. This is a French word that means 'unkotting'. It refers to the result of a complex situation, or sequence of events. It is the resolution that occurs near the final stages of the plot. Usually the denouement ends as quickly as the writer can arrange it because it occurs only after all the conflict has been resolved.
(viii) Peripeteia. This is the Greek word for 'sudden change'. The sudden reversal of fortune in a story, play or narrative. In tragedy, this is usually a change from stability and happiness towards the downfall of the protagonist.
(ix) Characterisation. An author, or poet's, use of description, dialogue and dialect to create an emotional and intellectual response in the reader. This is to make the character more vivid and realistic.
(x) a. Protagonist. The main character in a work, the character on which the writer focuses narrative attention.
b. Antagonist. The character against whom the protagonist struggles.
(xi) a. Main Plot. The order in which a story is told. This might unfold chronologically, or seemingly out of order. For example, the story might start in the middle, then work its way to the beginning, then the end. The main plot is usually the one that involves the protagonist, and other major characters.
b. Sub-Plot. This (www.bulbsoup.com) involves the actions of minor characters. In some plays, particularly the works of William Shakespeare, sub-plots occur simultaneously with the main plot.
Contributor: Leisa Samuels-Thomas
Abrahams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. (Orlando: FL). Haracourt Brace College Publisher, 1999.