Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 155

Climax - the moment in a play, novel, short story, or narrative poem at which the crisis comes to its point of greatest intensity and is resolved. It is also the peak of emotional response from a reader or spectator, and it usually represents the turning point in the action. Additionally, the term is used for the arrangement of words, clauses, or sentences in order of their importance, the least forcible coming first and the others rising in power until the last or, simply, the last term of the arrangement. Climax also means a culmination.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Guide to Literary Terms Study Guide

Subscribe Now

The word comes from the Greek klimax, meaning “a ladder,” and klinein, meaning “to slope, or slant.”

The climax of Beowulf is when Beowulf slays the mother of the monster, Grendel. Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles (1891) climaxes when Tess murders Alec D’urberville, who has harassed and tormented her throughout the novel.

see: anticlimax, denouement

Explore all literary terms.

Unlock This Study Guide Now

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




Explore Study Guides