A peripeteia is a sudden, unexpected event that takes place in the middle of an otherwise ordinary and expected chain of events.

It’s also called “sudden reversal” or “reversal of fortune.” Peripeteia could be as simple as someone catching something they dropped to more dramatic examples like getting hit by a car while walking across the street.

In literature, it can often serve to change the course of a story and has been used for centuries by authors such as Sophocles, Shakespeare, and George Eliot.



What Is Peripeteia?

Peripeteia is the sudden change in fortune that occurs for a protagonist or the reversal of fortunes, usually from good to bad.

It can be seen as an important literary technique since peripeteia often shapes plot development.

Peripeteia is typically used when a character is at their lowest point and then experiences some type of turnaround.



What Is Peripeteia?

The word “peripeteia” is a Greek term that means a sudden reversal of circumstances.

This type of change in the plot can be found throughout literature, and it has become an important literary device for authors to use.

The term “peripeteia” is most often used in reference to tragedy or drama – it describes any event which alters what was happening before it occurred.

This can include twists such as when Professor Plum reveals himself as the murderer at the end of Agatha Christie’s novel Murder on The Orient Express (a book which also contains other types of peripeteia).

Examples Of Peripeteia

Many literary works use this device as a way to keep readers engaged with the storyline.

Examples include the death of King Creon’s son Haemon at his father’s hands after he opposes him, and Oedipus’ discovery that he killed his own father and married his mother.

Peripeteia is a literary term that relates to how the plot of a story turns. In other words, peripeteia is when the protagonist’s world changes drastically for the worse, and they have to figure out what happened and what they need to do next.

This can be seen in many novels such as The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald where it describes Nick Carraway’s detached point of view on events happening outside his sphere of understanding or Paradise Lost by John Milton.

Satan, who was once thought to be good, becomes evil after being kicked out from Heaven.

The most common example of peripeteia in literature would be when Odysseus returns home and finds Penelope has remarried.

Another example of this would be in the story “The Great Gatsby” when Tom Buchanan finds out about his wife Myrtle Wilson’s affair with Jay Gatsby.

He rushes home and kills her and then tries to commit suicide but ends up surviving both events only to live life as an alcoholic who constantly abuses his own family members for revenge on those he feels wronged him.

Peripeteia In Shakespeare

Shakespearean tragedies often incorporate this device to create drama and suspense.

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the audience witnesses the protagonist Hermia being punished by her father for running away with her lover Lysander when she was supposed to marry Demetrius instead.

However, at the end of the play it is revealed that all along it was actually Helena who has been courting Lysander, not Hermia.

Peripeteia is a literary device that takes the audience on a journey.

As they travel with the protagonist, they are exposed to an unfamiliar experience and this new perspective changes their outlook on life.

They gain wisdom from this experience as well as empathy for those who have gone through similar circumstances.  Literary examples of peripeteia include “The Great Gatsby”, “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “1984”.

The Importance Of Using Peripeteia

Many people believe that without peripeteia there would not be any conflict in books or movies which would leave readers or watchers feeling bored with what was happening because nothing exciting is happening – no rising action, climax or falling action as they call it in literature studies!

The use of peripeteia in literature has been around since ancient Greece and has become very popular with modern readers.

Peripeteia works by completely changing the direction or goal of the protagonist’s plan, usually after they have already made some progress towards achieving it.

Aristotle was one of the most influential and famous ancient philosophers.

He is credited with inventing rhetoric, which is a powerful tool for persuasion, using paradoxes to teach science, and coming up with many other ideas that we now use today in our society.

One of his concepts that has been proven through time as relevant and important is peripeteia.

This can be seen in Hamlet when he learns from his father’s ghost that Claudius murdered him and took his place on the throne: “And now I know my hour has come.”

From this point forward, it becomes clear that Hamlet will act as an avenger against Claudius and Gertrude by killing them both before they kill him.

Examples Of Peripeteia In Pop Culture

It’s a concept that often goes unnoticed but it happens on a regular basis in pop culture.

In this blog post, I’ll go over some examples of peripeteia to illustrate how prevalent it really is in our everyday lives.

Peripeteia is a dramatic device where the protagonist’s fortunes change in an unexpected way. It can be found throughout pop culture, including:

  • The original Star Wars trilogy when Luke Skywalker becomes Darth Vader and kills his father.
  • The Hunger Games series is when Katniss Everdeen becomes the face of the rebellion against President Snow’s tyrannical dictatorship.

First Known Use Of Peripeteia

In the ancient world, a peripeteia was an event that changed everything. In tragedy and comedy alike, it’s the twist in the story that makes all of the difference.

Aristotle believed these moments were essential to any plot because they create suspense and make people think about what will happen next.

For many centuries after his death, audiences waited with bated breath for their favorite playwright to surprise them with a peripeteia!


The first known use of this word was in Sophocles’ Antigone, which tells the story of two brothers who are fighting over succession to their father’s throne.

One brother wants to take power and claim it as his own; but he dies before he can do so, leaving the other brother to inherit everything without any effort on his part.

This kind of turnabout would be called peripeteia today because it was not what anyone expected or planned for, and yet it becomes inevitable no matter how hard people work against it.

Peripeteia can be found throughout ancient literature as well as modern-day storytelling and movies.

Let’s take a look at its first known use in order to discover how this literary device has evolved over time.

The earliest known use of peripeteia was recorded by Aristotle (384-322 BCE) when he wrote: “That kind of reversal for which there is no special name…is called peripety.

A current example would be how in some movies we follow along with a character who seems to have everything going well only to find out they are up against insurmountable odds.

This leads them down a dark path where their fate leaves us feeling sad and hopeless about what’s happening on screen.

Peripeteia Provokes Strong Reactions

Peripeteia is a sudden reversal of circumstances and can be found in some of the most famous books and movies.

It can be used to describe the unexpected turning point in the story, often providing a new way for people to look at things.

It can provoke strong reactions from readers and has the power to alter the tone of a story.

Some find themselves in awe at how far events have fallen; others feel sorry for those who are now powerless and vulnerable.

Whatever your reaction to peripeteia may be, it is an essential element of any story worth telling.

In both life and art, an event or action surprises us by taking a sudden turn, often leading to disaster. The outcomes can be devastating as they leave characters reeling from the force of their reversal.

Peripeteia provokes strong reactions in all of us whether we’re on stage or off-stage because no one likes being caught off guard with nowhere to go but down.

The term “peripeteia” derives from the Greek language meaning “a turnaround.”

And when it comes to your health, you want nothing more than stability.

In order to understand what peripeteia means and why it causes such strong reactions, we will first define what it is.

The definition of peripeteia is “a sudden reversal of circumstances especially a tragic one.”

This type of event usually happens at the end of work and often leaves readers feeling shocked or saddened by how events have unfolded. It’s also worth noting that there are two different types: hamartia (tragic mistakes) and anagnorisis (recognition).

Peripeteia Propels The Story Forward

In literature, peripeteia is a sudden change in the plot that forces the story forward. It can be used as a literary device to keep readers interested and invested in what will happen next.

In this post, we’ll explore how it’s used by authors like Leo Tolstoy and William Shakespeare.

The protagonist of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina commits suicide at the end of Part 2 after she rejected her lover Vronsky for her son’s sake.

This unexpected turn of events propels the story into Part 3 where Tolstoy explores how Levin learns from his past mistakes with Kitty and gets married.

Similarly, Shakespeare’s Hamlet changes drastically when Claudius kills King Hamlet while he is praying one night.

Peripeteia Plays With Perception

Since the dawn of time, humans have been trying to understand their place in the world. It is no surprise that we are still struggling with this issue today.

What may seem like a simple question is actually very complex and often leads to a deeper investigation into our identity and existence as human beings.

Peripeteia plays with perception and its effect on an individual’s sense of self-worth or lack thereof.

The protagonist, Antoine Roquentin, is an intellectual who has just published his first book but he soon realizes that he cannot be happy because there is always something missing from himself.

Peripeteia is defined as “a sudden reversal of circumstances” which can lead to an abrupt change in tone or mood.

This concept has been used by many writers throughout history in order to manipulate the way their stories are read and for good reason- it’s highly effective!

Peripeteia Can Empower Characters

Peripeteia can empower characters by allowing them to demonstrate their true selves after overcoming adversity while also driving conflict forward or concluding it with finality.

Peripeteia can be a powerful tool for authors in the creation of their characters.

This is because it is a sudden change in fortune that forces one to adapt and evolve, often leading to an increase in character depth.

In the word peripeteia, “peri” means around and “peteia” means change. It is a turning point in which things take an unexpected turn.

Characters who experience this are often changed as they come out of it- sometimes for better, but usually not for worse.

In Sophocles’ play Antigone, we see how the protagonist’s brother dies on the battlefield and she has to decide what to do about his body.

She goes against King Creon’s decree to bury him outside of the city walls because she believes that he deserves more than just being left at a lonely spot where no one will honor him properly or give him any respect as royalty.

This can manifest as a character’s epiphany or new knowledge they receive. It has been said that every character should have two turning points: one moment where things are going well for them, and one moment where their life falls apart.

The author shares examples from popular books like Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird to illustrate how peripatetic experiences can be used to make memorable characters who readers care about deeply.

Peripeteia Punctuates Complex Plots

Peripeteia can be thought of as an external agent which forces the protagonist (or central character) into action or triggers some change within them.

This type of event is usually not foreshadowed; instead, it comes out of nowhere and catches readers off guard because they didn’t see it coming.

When this happens in fiction writing, there’s often tension created between what has been established earlier on with what has just happened.

Placing (And Misplacing) Peripeteia

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end, but not all stories are linear.

Placing (And Misplacing) Peripeteia is an interactive blog post that explores the idea of non-linear storytelling.

The reader will be presented with two different narratives which take place in the same location at different points in time.

It’s up to them to figure out where one narrative stops and another begins before they read on.

Along the way, they’ll learn about Greek tragedy and its connection to modern-day theatre as well as how this form of storytelling can be used for educational purposes.