What is the literary term for when a character is ignorant of their divine/royal parentage/heritage? Examples would be Oedipus, or King Arthur.

Expert Answers

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

The literary term that you are looking for is known as Anagnorisis. For Arthur, it would be when he was able to pull the sword out of the stone, something that no other person could do, he does it with ease.  Since the stone is inscribed with the description of the person who is able of pulling the sword from the stone, it is then that Arthur experiences a startling moment of true revelation.

"Anagnorisis (an ag NOR ih sis) In Greek drama, a startling discovery; moment of epiphany; time of revelation when a character discovers his true identity. 

 "One of the finest occurs in Sophocles ’Oedipus Rex when a messenger reveals to Oedipus his true birth."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial