Climax (narrative)

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The death of Caesar in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is a well-known climax

The climax (from the Greek word κλῖμαξ, meaning "staircase" and "ladder") or turning point of a narrative work is its point of highest tension or drama or when the action starts in which the solution is given.[1][2] Climax is a literary element.


Arguably, the punch line of a joke is a good analogy of the climax of other form of fictional narrative, though the absence of any falling action is an essential variation probably reflecting the nature of humor.

In many non-fictional narrative genres, even though the author lacks the same freedom to control the action and "plot", selection of subject matter, degree of detail, and emphasis permit an author to create similar structures.

In the play, Hippolytus (by the famous Greek playwright, Euripides) the climax, or turning point, would be when Phaedra hears Hippolytus react badly because of her love for him. It is the moment that Aphrodite's curse is finally fulfilled, and while not action-packed, it is the turning point of the whole play.

Climax: the turn, the point of the greatest suspense or an action (peak)


An anti-climax is where something which would appear to be difficult to solve in a plot is solved through something trivial. For example, destroying a heavily guarded facility would require advanced technology, teamwork and weaponry for a climax, but in an anti-climax, it may just consist of pushing a red button which says "Emergency Self-Destruct", or even more so, simply filling out an eviction notice and destroying the building. A famous example is the ending of The War of the Worlds, where, amidst the chaos of the extraterrestrial takeover of planet Earth, the aliens are defeated by the most unexpected organism: the common cold virus. Another example could involve the protagonist faced with insurmountable odds and ultimately being killed, without accomplishing his goal, despite what appears to be a turning point for the character.

See also


  1. Robert Herrick; Lindsay Todd Damon (1902). Composition and Rhetoric for Schools. Original from Harvard University: Scott, Foresman and Co. p. 382.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Jefferson Butler Fletcher; George Rice Carpenter (1893). Introduction to Theme-writing. Original from Harvard University: Allyn & Bacon. p. 84.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>