IB English Literature: Drama – Tragedy Terminology

Flashcard maker : Christine Brunetti
Exposition
Act I: creates mood, tone, setting; introduces characters and conflict(s). The play’s Exposition conveys information that is relevant to understanding the plot such as setting, events that have already occurred, mood, and main characters.
Complication
Act II: action rises and tension builds because of conflicts between various characters
Climax
Act III: peak of action and the turning point of the play; action and intensity decline after this act
Falling Action
Act IV: focuses on actions of the forces who oppose the protagonist; suspense is maintained until the tragedy occurs
Catastrophe (Denouement)
Act V: the moment that marks the protagonist’s tragic flaw, usually ending in the hero’s death.
Tragic Hero
A protagonist who starts out in a high rank in society; well respected; and fall to disaster because of a character flaw and forces beyond his/her control.
Tragic flaw
A personality failure that cannot be overcome and leads to the hero’s downfall and/or death.
Dramatic Irony
When the audience knows something that characters on stage do not know.
Verbal Irony
When a character says one thing, but really means something else.
Poetic Justice
A literary outcome in which bad characters are punished and good characters are rewarded.
Conceit
An extended metaphor that controls the entire poem.
Invective
An emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language.
Foil
A character who complements/contrasts main character, & whose interaction with the main character give insight to the main character’s nature.
Paradox of tragedy
Demise of tragic hero because of things he can’t control (e.g. fate) & things he can control (e.g. decisions, bad judgment)
Aristotle’s definition of tragedy
“The function of tragedy is to effect a pleasurable catharsis of the emotions of pity and terror.”
Catharsis:
A release of emotions (e.g. crying at the end of a movie): The emotional purgation of negative feelings known as Catharsis involved, according to Aristotle’s Poetics, two emotions: Eleos (pity) and Phobos (fear). If the audience did not feel pity for the tragic hero in a play, or feel fear at his downfall, the play failed in its purpose.
Peripeteia
The reversal of fortune in the life of the tragic hero.
Anagnorisis
Tragic hero’s recognition of his contribution to his downfall, & his reaction & change thereafter; what allowed the TH to have tragic capactiy.
Hamartia
Tragic flaws/errors in judgment that lead to downfall of TH
Anthropomorphism
A form of personification that applies human-like characteristics to animals or objects
Hypodiegesis
A story told within another story.
Incluing
Gradually exposing the reader to background information about the story’s world to subtly clue the readers into the world the author is building.
Stichomythia
Dramatic dialogue characterised by briefly, punchy intermittent dialogue between two characters; each of whom both normally speak in verse.
Tragicomedy
a play or novel containing elements of both tragedy and comedy
Farce
(n.) a play filled with ridiculous or absurd happenings; broad or far-fetched humor; a ridiculous sham
realism
A 19th century artistic movement in which writers and painters sought to show life as it is rather than life as it should be
double entendre
a statement that has two meanings, one of which is dirty or vulgar
aside
A device in which a character in a drama makes a short speech which is heard by the audience but not by other characters in the play
analepsis
flashback; an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point in the story
deus ex machina
In literature, the use of an artificial device or gimmick to solve a problem.

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