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Word Count: 652
Peripeteia and anagnorisis are fancy Greek words but we are all quite familiar with the concepts Anyone who has watched the eighties television show The A-Team is quite familiar with peripeteia Every episode the A-Team thinks they have the bad guys stumped but then the tables are turned the first peripeteia and the team is captured Of course the bad guys always lock them up in a warehouse full of welding equipment and the A-Team builds a big machine breaks out and busts the bad guys the second peripeteia This example may seem silly but the point is that peripeteia is not an archaic concept but an incredibly potent literary device that is used effectively in almost every genre at almost every level Anagnorisis is similarly ubiquitous The discovery can be a simple matter of seeing clearly a pattern in events that had seemed obscure before or it can be a moment of recognition that alters the characters behavior and sense of self To draw two examples from the movie The Empire Strikes Back we find a simpler kind of anagnorisis in Lukes discovery that the little green guy is Yoda and the more complex kind in Lukes discovery that he is Darth Vaders son The difference between these examples from popular culture and the best of Greek tragedy is the way in which peripeteia and anagnorisis are integrated into the plot of a tragedy Aristotle insists that these elements not be included unless they are an inevitable part of the necessary or probable sequence of events that leads from beginning to end The reversals in each episode of The A-Team are hardly necessitated by events they usually seem forced and improbable They are simply cheap devices to keep the audience guessing The unity of plot in Greek tragedy is meant to clarify a pattern in events that helps us to understand the consequences of our thoughts and actions
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