Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the definition of scene?

The definition of scene is a section of an act within a play.


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Last Updated May 26, 2023.

In literature, a scene refers to a specific section or portion of a story, play, or novel that takes place in a particular setting and involves a specific set of characters. It is a fundamental unit of storytelling that captures a discrete moment or event within the larger narrative structure.


Scenes serve several vital purposes in literature. They help to advance the plot by presenting key events or actions that drive the story forward. Scenes also provide opportunities for character development, allowing readers to witness characters interacting, expressing their thoughts and emotions, and undergoing significant changes or revelations. Moreover, scenes contribute to a work's overall atmosphere, tone, and mood, as the details of the setting, dialogue, and descriptive language can create a distinct ambiance.


Scene comes from the Latin word scēna, meaning "stage, scene," from the Greek skene, meaning "wooden stage for actors."


see: drama

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