Definition of Falling Action
Falling action occurs right after the climax, when the main problem of the story resolves. It is one of the elements of the plot of the story, the other elements being exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution. Falling action wraps up the narrative, resolves its loose ends, and leads toward the closure.
Examples of Falling Action in Literature
Example #1: Star Wars (by George Lucas)
Falling action in Star Wars occurs after the rebels and Luke Skywalker discover a vulnerable section in the Death Star. It is up to Luke Skywalker to destroy the space ship following several failed attempts. Darth Vader virtually hits Luke’s ship; however, Han Solo saves his ship by shooting at Vader. Then, Luke uses The Force and destroys the Death Star against all odds, saving the rebels. Yet the story does not end here. The audience then sees the return of Han and Luke to the rebels, who receive congratulations for their heroic efforts. Then the falling action takes place, when these two characters win rewards and medals from Princess Leia for saving the day.
Example #2: The Necklace (by Guy de Maupassant)
In Maupassant’s story, The Necklace, the rising action happens when Mathilda Loisel and her husband get invited to a fancy ball. She then borrows a beautiful necklace from Madame Forestier, her friend. The story reaches its climax when Mathilda sees herself in full glory and realizes that she is not having it anymore. The falling action takes place when this couple is forced to live a poor life to pay the debt of the fake necklace they borrowed earlier.
Example #3: The Cask of Amontillado (by Edgar Allan Poe)
Another good example is in the famous story of Poe, The Cask of Amontillado. Following his wicked plan, Montresor invites Fortunato to his vault to taste the rare flavor of Amontillado, a type of wine. He makes a plan to keep Fortunato inebriated, ensuring that his glass remains full. When Fortunato starts coughing, Montresor asks him if he wants to go back, but intoxicated Fortunato insists on tasting more.
The climax of the story occurs when Montresor chains him and buries him alive in a brick wall. Then the falling action follows this climax, where Fortunato regains consciousness and struggles to get free of chains to call for help. Before sealing the wall, Montresor throws a torch to see if Fortunato is alive to end the story.
Example #4: The Fault in Our Stars (by John Green)
Another example of falling action is from The Fault in Our Stars, a novel by John Green. The story revolves around two teenage lovers, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, who are cancer patients. The rising action takes place, when they start liking each other, and the climax occurs with their tour to Amsterdam, where they express their feelings and consequently their love blossoms.
Nevertheless, their whirling romance comes to a halt, because Augustus’ health worsens, and he sees very few chances of his survival. The falling action follows with their return to Indianapolis, where Hazel decides to be with him to take good care of him. But, deep down she is aware of this reality that he has not much time to live. Augustus, on the other hand, remembers that he had planned to would write Hazel’s eulogy, but the situation reverses instead.
Example #5: Romeo and Juliet (by William Shakespeare)
The falling action of Romeo and Juliet begins following rising action and climax, which is reached when the lovers are killed. Then the parents and Prince discover the bodies of two lovers, and they agree to put aside their animosity in the best interest of peace.
Function of Falling Action
Audiences expect a low ebb after every great tide in order to give themselves a feeling of relief. This happens with falling action of the story or the play. In fact, it is the desire of the audiences to see the fruits of the labor of a hero or protagonist that satisfies them. If this does not happen, the audience stays unsatisfied, and the story seems incomplete. Thus, falling action serves as a rewarding element in a story or movie. In addition, it is like a road from climax to resolution, and if the road is vacant, the story may end abruptly.