Freytag's Analysis

Freytag is known for his analysis of the structure of ancient Greek and Shakespearean drama. According to Freytag, a drama is divided into five parts, or acts: called Freytag's pyramid.

Exposition (inciting incident)

Rising action

Climax (or turning point)

Falling action

Denouement or catastrophe (resolution) (depending upon comedy or a tragedy) (A comedy is a drama in which the protagonist, or main character, is better off at the end of the story than at the beginning; a tragedy is the opposite.)

In the exposition, the background information that is needed to understand the story properly is provided. Such information includes the protagonist, the antagonist, the basic conflict, the setting, and so forth. The exposition ends with the inciting moment, which is the single incident in the story's action without which there would be no story. The inciting moment sets the remainder of the story in motion beginning with the second act, the rising action.

During rising action, the basic conflict is complicated by the introduction of related secondary conflicts, including various obstacles that frustrate the protagonist's attempt to reach their goal. Secondary conflicts can include adversaries of lesser importance than the story’s antagonist, who may work with the antagonist or separately, by and for themselves. Climax (turning point)

The third act is that of the climax, or turning point, which marks a change, for the better or the worse, in the protagonist’s affairs. If the story is a comedy, things will have gone badly for the protagonist up to this point; now, the tide, so to speak, will turn, and things will begin to go well for him or her. If the story is a tragedy, the opposite state of affairs will ensue, with things going from good to bad for the protagonist.


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