How to Use Peripeteia
In order to use peripeteia, it is important to note the various necessary elements of peripeteia. Peripeteia in its strongest form must:
- Shock the audience with an abrupt change of circumstance
- Cause the audience to experience negative emotions such as pity and fear
- Result as a necessary outcome of previous actions
To use peripeteia correctly,
- Write a story of a character whose actions have not had any negative effect yet.
- Insert the negative effect as peripeteia.
For example, consider a student who has been cheating:
Johnny has been getting away with cheating for years. He has fantastic grades and plan to go to Harvard in the fall thanks to cheating on the SAT.
Just before attending Harvard, Johnny is abruptly called to the Honors department, where he is accused of cheating, which has been recorded on a security camera. He is kicked out of Harvard and his reputation is ruined.
In this example, Johnny’s life is going great until the peripeteia which is shocking and abrupt, causes pity for Johnny, and results as a necessary outcome of his cheating.
When to use Peripeteia
Because peripeteia is typically used in tragedies, peripeteia is only appropriate for prose and poetry narratives which have a tragic protagonist. Peripeteia can be an element of tragic movies and television shows as well. Peripeteia occurs as the turning point in a plot just before the denouement, or conclusion, of the play or composition. In other words, peripeteia should be used towards the end of a composition, before its falling action and conclusion.