Rising Action

Definition of Rising Action

Rising action in a plot is a series of relevant incidents that create suspense, interest and tension in a narrative. In literary works, a rising action includes all decisions, characters’ flaws and background circumstances that together create turns and twists leading to a climax. We find it in novels, plays and short stories. Rising action is one of the elements of plot, begins immediately after its exposition.

Rising Action Examples from Literature

Example 1

In her short story, Revelation, Flannery O’Connor has used a great deal of rising action. The moment when Mrs. Turpin comes into the waiting room, she becomes offensive at the surroundings around her, and considers herself higher than the homely and dirty looking patients. We see a girl, Mary Grace in a waiting room, in intense action showing her dislike towards Mrs. Turpin where she finally makes a physical attack on her by throwing a book at her. Mrs. Turpin consequently responds negatively, crying and showing anger.

Example 2

The conflict begins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, The Hobbit, as Gandalf meets Bilbo and asks him to play the role of a burglar of dwarves’ expedition to recover treasure of Thorin from Smaug. Rising action occurs as he agrees to live up and act as a burglar during this adventure. His heroism begins merely by shouting to wake up Gandalf, who rescues company from goblin, and then action slowly intensifies when he finds out the magic ring. Gradually, he overcomes difficulties by killing a big spider, and establishes his potentials as a hero and leader.

Example 3

Tolstoy in his novel, Anna Karenina, draws two major stories. Rising action of major storyline begins when Vronsky starts having passionate feelings for Anna instead Kitty. Vronsky and Anna meet each other in the train station and start their secret relationship. The action further rises while their obsession turns into a love affair, and Anna decides to live with Vronsky and leave her son and husband. The second storyline is about refusal of Kitty to the marriage proposal of Konstantin Levin. Further action rises, as she moves back to the countryside in order to think about life and faces inner conflict while considering her decision.

Example 4

The rising action in Stephenie Meyer’s novel, Twilight, occurs as Cullen family plays vampire baseball game where Bella is looking as a spectator. During the play, some rogue vampires like James, Laurent and Victoria approach them. James feels the smell of Bella, and action rises. James chases Bella while Cullen family strives to defend her. This heightened action ultimately creates a huge climax that consequently brings many things to a head, leading to the end.

Example 5

Alyson Noel has written a number of novel series and, Evermore, is the first one among them. This novel follows ventures of leading character, Ever along with a man Damen, who helped her become an immortal. Through the novel, readers learn that Damen being first immortal fell in love with Ever centuries ago. His ex-wife, however, continues trying to kill Ever’s incarnations in order to keep Damen apart from Ever. Her attempts for doing this develop novel’s rising action that strengthens the love story of Damen and Ever, and creates suspense towards their final combat with Drina.

Example 6

In Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’ novel, Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, the rising action occurs when magic mirror of Queen warns her that she is no more the fairest lady in the land, instead it is now Snow White. Then envious Queen orders her huntsman to take her stepdaughter Snow White away from the palace in the forest and secretly kill her. Fortunately, they cannot kill and lose her in the forest where seven tiny dwarfs find her. They bring her up in their home, however, action rises another time when mirror tells the Queen that Snow White is alive.

Function of Rising Action

The events of a rising action are generally very important, because the entire plot of a narrative depends upon these events for setting up the climax – a moment of ultimate excitement that eventually leads to a satisfactory resolution. For instance, an author writes a love story in which a moment comes when characters decide whether to stay together or break up – thus rising action sets a stage for this moment by building up dramatic situations or conflicts. It further adds a layer of complexity to the plot for developing characters and climax.

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3 comments for “Rising Action

  1. aqsa
    January 15, 2016 at 10:41 am

    correct,easy and comprehensive material

  2. February 2, 2016 at 12:45 am

    I finally get it because of Example 4, I read the book and saw the movie so I understand it better now.

  3. Patrick
    February 12, 2016 at 7:50 am

    it is a very useful information. it has helped me know more about a plot as a literary term.

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