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Freytag's Pyramid, which illustrates dramatic structure. The rising action is on the ascending left side of the pyramid.

The rising action, in the narrative of a work of fiction, follows the exposition and leads up to the climax. The rising action's purpose is usually to build suspense all the way up the climactic finish. The rising action should not be confused with the middle of the story, but is the action right before the climax. The material beyond the climax is known as the falling action.



In his Poetics the Greek philosopher Aristotle put forth the idea that "'ολον δε εστιν το εχον αρχην και μεσον και τελευτην" (1450b27) ("A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end"(1450b27)).[1] This three-part view of a plot structure (with a beginning, middle, and end) prevailed until 1863, when the German playwright and novelist Gustav Freytag wrote Die Technik des Dramas. In it, he laid out what has come to be known as Freytag's pyramid.[2] Under Freytag's pyramid, the plot of a story consists of five parts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and revelation/catastrophe.[3]


  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry must go through a set of tasks to reach where the Philosopher's Stone is hidden, where he will have the final battle. These are the actions leading up to the climax where Harry must face Voldemort who is trying to get the stone.
  • In the novel, I, Robot, Susan Calvin falls in love with a man named Peter Bogert. The rising action in this circumstance is when she asks a mind-reading robot if he is in love with her, and it says "yes".
  • In Romeo and Juliet, the rising action are all the events that lead up to the death of Mercutio.

See also


  1. ^ Perseus Digital Library (2006). Aristotle, Poetics
  2. ^ University of South Carolina (2006). The Big Picture
  3. ^ University of Illinois: Department of English (2006). Freytag’s Triangle


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