Climax in Literature| Definition & 8 examples

It is a literary device in which the sequential words, clauses, phrases or sentences are organized in ascending order. In dramatic and non-dramatic fiction,
climax is the point, at which, the highest level of interest and emotional response is achieved.

Origin

Originated from the late Latin word ‘Klimax’ and was first known used in mid-16th century.

Definition

It is a literary device in which the sequential words, clauses, phrases or sentences are organized in ascending order. In dramatic and non-dramatic fiction, climax is the point, at which, the highest level of interest and emotional response is achieved.

It is considered a point at which the rise of action ends and the fall of action begins. In a tragedy, the climax will generally reveals
the protagonist’s greatest weaknesses and the situation will go irreparable wrong.

Common Examples of Climax:

  1. He lost his fans, friends and family.
  2. He smiles, laughs and roars.
  3. Look up the sky; it is a bird! It is a plane! It is a superman!
  4. He met with the accident, became injured and died.
  5. John earned three thousand per day, the next day he earned five thousand and then earned ten thousand a day.
  6. Of the people, by the people, for the people.
  7. Good to know, better to know, best to know.
  8. Feeling sad, sorrow and repentance.

Examples in Literature:

Oration of Cicero against Verres:

It is an outrage to bind a Roman citizen, to scourge him is an atrocious crime; to put him to death is almost a parricide; but to Crucify him,
what shall I call it?

In this example, the orator wishing to raise the annoyance of the audience to the heist pitch refrained from specifying the crime of the accused
at once and led the way up to it by successive steps.

Lord Macaulay’s graphic description about climax:

The energy and pathos of the great orator extorted expressions of unwonted admiration even from the stern and hostile Chancellor, and for a
moment seemed to pierce even the resolute heart of the defendant. The ladies in the galleries, unaccustomed to such displays of eloquence, excited
by the solemnity of the occasion, and perhaps not unwilling to display their taste and sensibility, were in a state of uncontrollable emotion.
Handkerchiefs were pulled out, smelling bottles were handed round; hysterical sobs and screams were heard; and Mrs. Sheridan was carried out in a fit.”

Burke’s peroration in impeachment of Warren Hastings:

  1. I impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, whose parliamentary trust he has betrayed.
  2. I impeach him in the name of our holy religion, which he has disgraced.
  3. I impeach him in the name of the English Constitution, which he has violated and broken.
  4. I impeach him in the name of the English nation whose ancient honour he has sullied.
  5. Lastly, in the name of human nature itself, in the name of both sexes, in the name of every age, in the name of every rank, I impeach the common enemy and oppressor of all.

Macaulay on Lord Bacon:

Impeached, convicted, sentenced, driven with ignominy from the presence of his Sovereign, shut out from the deliberations of his fellow nobles,
loaded with debt, branded with dishonour, sinking fellow nobles, loaded with debt, branded with dishonor, sinking under the weight of years,
sorrows and diseases, Bacon was Bacon still.

Purpose of Climax:

Climax is used in a story to reach it at the final point of excitement and enjoy. Readers can observe the series of events start from the low point
which ends on the high point. It is a useful tool to build up a story and is sometimes considered as a turning point of a story in which the rising
action of something and then to its fall has been discussed.

Difference between Climax and Anti-Climax

Climax: The peak of importance in a play or in a story which is arranged in ascending order.

Anti-climax: It is a rhetorical device that can be defined to disappointing situation, or a sudden evolution in dialogue from an main idea to a absurd
or trifling one. He lost his family, friends and fans.

Further Reading

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