Among the most frequently used rhetorical resources by comedy writers and other literary genres such as novels, short stories, poetry among others, we can find the anagnorisis, which is used to know the true history of the facts by the main character, secondary character or the reader or spectator of a work.
Anagnorisis is a Greek word meaning "recognition". In literature, it represents a rhetorical resource in which a fact that remained hidden is discovered. In some cases, the anagnorisis moment is opportune for the protagonist to change the destiny of his life in his favor, but in other cases, it is already late, and a tragedy takes place.
Many times we have to wait until the end of a reading or a piece of theater to see that turning point where the resource of anagnorisis will be present to give a denouement to the story, and that the characters understand the truth of the facts and act in accordance with it. Sometimes this truth arrives in time and other times it is very late, but this is the element that gives emotion to the work and the most awaited moment of these.
Although this rhetorical resource was already used by Greeks, Aristotle is the one who uses this word for the first time in his work “Poetics”, affirming that in classic tragedy, the ideal moment for this to happen is the vicissitude (which means the change of fortune), where a character became aware of who he was, or another person in relation to an event that was always fatal. The truth knowledge in the person the person recognized his destiny, the consequences of his acts and what should be his future actions to achieve his objectives.
But anagnorisis is not a resource that was limited to Ancient Greece, its comedies and epic works. The recognition act as a key element for stories outcome was extended to different literary genres and to several countries through different periods of history until today.
European countries such as France, Italy, Spain, England and Greece, among others, have classic literary works that demonstrate the importance of this resource. An example of this can be seen in the theatre of the Spanish Golden Age, Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, among others.
Today, television and cinema have used, in many of their series and films, the anagnorisis to give emotional strength to the end of the stories they tell. For example, in the film ” Sixth Sense “, it is at the end of the story when the main character realizes that he was talking to a ghost who was always believed to be a living character.
Also, nowadays it is used by advertising to make intrigue campaigns for their products and even in video games to give more emotion to a game.
The word anagnorisis comes from the Greek and means recognition. But this recognition is linked to an awareness or to the discovery of a truth about oneself or about other people or situations.
In classical Greek theatre, it can be seen that Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, “Oedipus the King“, was anagnorised when Oedipus Thebes discovered that the prophecy of Delphi’s Oracle was fulfilled, which said that he would kill his father and marry his mother, to whom he would give four children. In this case it is linked to fatality.
In English theater, playwright William Shakespeare uses his anagnorisis pieces to give a tragic end to his stories. An example of this can be seen in Romeo and Juliet, a love story where lovers realize that their love may not be possible because everyone recognizes that it comes from families that have conflicts between themselves, the Capulets and the Montesco.
In the period of French romanticism, Alexander Dumas makes use of the anagnorisis in the work “Count of Mount Christ”, when the character reveals his identity to his beloved in the final chapters.
A modern example of its use can be seen in the science fiction film history of “Star Wars” or ” Galaxy War“. This well-known saga of Gorge Lucas, in his first three films (Episode VI, V and VI), the main character Luck Skywalker, discovers who his father was and that he is still alive and serves the dark side of force. The process of recognition or anagnorisis makes the character change his actions to save his father and rescue him from the dark side.
Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Anagnorisis. Recovered on 28 October, 2023, de Euston96: https://www.euston96.com/en/anagnorisis-en/