• A sudden reversal of fortune or change in circumstances, especially in reference to fictional narrative.

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Example Sentences

“‘The Prince and the Pauper’ is a classic tale of peripeteia, or a reversal in fortune.” 

“Most romantic comedies have a happily-ever-after peripeteia, but dramas can end in an upsetting change in circumstance.”

“As a screenwriter, I want the peripeteia to be a bit of a surprise and not quite so obvious.”

Word Origin

Greek, late 16th century

Why this word?

Sports cinema is scattered with tales of peripeteia (a reversal of fortune), such as the classic 1993 underdog film “Rudy,” the 2003 soccer flick “Bend It Like Beckham,” or really any of the “Rocky” movies. Studies have shown that humans are psychologically attuned to root for the underdog, and this might explain why we are so thrilled when the perceived weaker party experiences peripeteia, whether by winning the big game or learning an important life lesson from Mr. Miyagi.

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