A specific scene in the play may be said to have dramatic purpose if it achieves one or more of the following:

¨      The revelation of the nature of important characters

¨      The revelation of opposition to or loyalty to an important character

¨      The linking of character

¨      The linking of incidents in the plot

¨      Humour or light entertainment

¨      Relief from tension

¨      Contrast

¨      Conflict

¨      The presentation of useful information

¨      Suspense

¨      Atmosphere

¨      Background

¨      Irony

¨      Pathos


An individual speech or soliloquy may have dramatic significance if it achieves one or more of the following:

¨      The advancement of the plot (or the complication of the plot)

¨      The explanation of a situation

¨      The revelation of character

¨      Contrast

¨      Humour

¨      Change of pace or tension

¨      Atmosphere

¨      Visual Dramatic Effect (spectacle)

¨      A revelation or exposition of the theme

¨      Dramatic irony

¨      Nemesis


The word significance means importance. When you are asked to explain the dramatic significance of a passage or a scene, you should ask yourself, “Why has the playwright included this passage or scene in the play?” The answer to this question will tell you the significance or importance of the passage or scene to the play as a whole. You may be asked to explain the dramatic function or purpose of a passage or scene. Asking the same question will give you the required information.

Although a passage or scene may be significant in very many ways, ten common answers are listed below. A passage may be included to:

¨      Advance the plot of the play

¨      Develop the characterization of the speaker

¨      Develop the characterization of another character in the play

¨      Provide necessary background information

¨      Foreshadow later events in the play

¨      Create suspense

¨      Create sympathy for the speaker or for another character in the play

¨      Provide humour (an entire scene of humour is called a scene of comic relief)

¨      Provide dramatic irony

¨      Develop the theme of the play

Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "DRAMATIC PURPOSE," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019, https://schoolworkhelper.net/dramatic-purpose/.

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Tommy Magagula
Tommy Magagula
4 years ago

Very insightful. Studying poetry and drama and this is quite good.

Jovasha Farquharson
Jovasha Farquharson
4 years ago

Very helpful information! Thank you.