What do plot, conflict, obstacle, complication, crisis, climax, exposition, and dialogue mean in a play?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Plot, conflict, obstacles, complications, crisis, climax, exposition, and dialogue are all key components of a play. Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements.

A play’s plot is its storyline, how the events of the story are arranged from beginning to end. The plot rises to a climax and then falls as the play finishes. The plot is centered around a conflict, some kind of difficulty that the characters face and must overcome. This difficulty can be between characters, between a character and nature or society or the supernatural, or within a character. The conflict is the plot’s driving force. The conflict, the characters, and often the primary themes of the play are all introduced in the exposition.

Of course, a play would not be very interesting if it did not have complications and obstacles. Complications are basically problems that need to be solved as the plot progresses. Obstacles are things, events, and even people that hinder the characters in some way and threaten to prevent them from resolving the conflict.

The play reaches its crisis when the characters are faced with a critical decision that must be made. The crisis builds to the climax, the highest point in the action, where the characters come to the very brink of the conflict. As this passes, the play enters its period of resolution as the conflict is solved and the loose ends are tied up (usually).

Throughout the play, the characters speak to each other as they try to work out the conflict and work through the complications and obstacles to the crisis and climax. This conversation is called dialogue, and it is the primary way of conveying the plot in a play.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial