TwelveReversals and Recognitions

Pieces of the Action

“The most powerful elements of emotional interest in Tragedy—Reversal of the Situation, and Recognition scenes—are parts of the plot.”

(Poetics, Part VI)

In his discussion of the importance of PLOT over other elements of drama, Aristotle observes that what makes a plot emotionally resonant, the ultimate outcome we are always seeking, is that it is made up of two powerful ingredients, REVERSALS and RECOGNITIONS.

Let’s take them one at a time, though they often come hand in hand. Aristotle says:

“A reversal is a change by which the action veers round to its opposite, subject always to our rules of probability or necessity.”

(Poetics, Part XI)

In other words, a character is traveling ...

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