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In literature, is closure the same as denouement?I am wondering if closure is what...

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jillybeane16 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 19, 2011 at 2:29 AM via web

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In literature, is closure the same as denouement?

I am wondering if closure is what comes at the end of the climatic arc or the ending of the story.  To use Pride and Prejudice as an example: if closure is the end of the climatic arc, then closure would be when Elizabeth realizes all that Mr. Darcy has done for her family and admits to having feelings for him.  Whereas the end of the story is marriages of Elizabeth and Jane.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 19, 2011 at 2:50 AM (Answer #1)

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There is more than one conflict in a story.  Lack of closure is an internal conflict.

In literature, the resolution of the conflict is the denouement.  Closure is usually referred to as emotional acceptance, which would mean that lack of closure is a character vs. self internal conflict.  Closure might be something a character does or does not feel. If the conflict is unresolved, that might lead the character to feel a lack of closure.  It would depend on the character.  In that case the internal conflict would remain unresolved.

The resolution will not necessarily be a happy ending.  For example, if a character is struggling with his sister’s disappearance, not knowing whether she is dead or alive would bring him a lack of closure.  That character vs. character conflict, her disappearance, would remain unresolved.  The character vs. self conflict would also remain unresolved, unless the character comes to terms with the fact that she never returns.  However if her body appears, both conflicts have been resolved even though they did not end happily.  The character may have closure, unless he does not know who the killer is!

In your example, the marriage is a resolution to one conflict (external) and the admittance of feelings is a resolution of a different one (internal).



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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 19, 2011 at 7:22 AM (Answer #2)

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No. Etymologically, denouement means" denudement," the revealing or uncovering or solving of previous mysteries, puzzles, or enigmas.  In drama it logically occurs at the end of the action; closure, however, is a psychological or sociological term referring to a calming down of tensions or contradictions.  Also, denouement is a term applicable to 3-act structures, but not to two-act plays (the currently more  structure).

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