Dramatic Irony

Occurs when the reader knows a secret, but the characters in a play or work of fiction do not. Therefore, the words or actions of a character carry a special meaning for the reader but are understood differently by the character.  The characters are blind to facts, but the reader is not.


Is applied to justice, which comes about when an evil act brings about its own punishment and poetic justice prevails.


Is a device used to attract the reader’s attention.  It is a statement that seems contradictory or absurd, but well-founded and true at the same time.


Is a speech given by a character in a play when the speaker is alone. This is presented to inform the audience or reader of what is happening in the mind of a character and to give information about the action of the play.

Pathetic Fallacy

Is a device used by poets and writers whereby nature mirrors the political condition of society. Pathos is a situation that elicits pity from the audience.


A speech made by an actor DIRECTLY TO THE AUDIENCE, but seemingly to himself or herself.  It is always a true reflection of the character’s thoughts. Its function is to reveal character.


A type of drama of human conflict which ends in defeat and suffering. Often the main character (dignified, noble) has a tragic flaw (weakness of character, wrong judgment) that leads to his or her destruction. Sometimes the conflict is with forces beyond the control of the character – fate, evil in the world.


A hint or warning of things to come, making specific events in the plot seems more probable as they unfold.


Using images to describe or compare something, so that the reader forms a picture in his or her mind.


Is an ancient Greek theatre term meaning the error, frailty, mistaken judgment or misstep through which the fortunes of the hero of a tragedy are reversed. Hamartia must express itself through a definite action, or, failure to perform a definite action. Hamartia can result from bad judgment, a bad character,  ignorance, inherited weakness, or accident.  This error does not always result from an error in character.

Tragic Hero

The tragedy is about WASTE, a waste of people and a waste of unrealized potential.  Hamlet has high individual potential, which is wasted by an individual weakness that significantly affects others.  If Hamlet’s potential had been realized, he would have been a hero.  Unrealized potential is the difference between a successful versus an unsuccessful quest.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0


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