Pentadic Analysis

Pentadic analysis is the application of Kenneth Burke’s dramatism as a rhetorical device to understand the conflict or tensions inherent to most narrative drama. As a literary theorist, Burke believed that analyzing the focus that a narrator placed on some features of a conflict over others could provide insight into the narrator’s perspective. As the name implies, the core of pentadic analysis is a focus on five elements argued by Burke to be common to all narratives: act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose. These are collectively referred to as the dramatistic pentad, and understanding both their construction and their relation to one another is a valuable method for unpacking the intended motives behind a character’s (or narrator’s) actions within a story—in many cases, these motives ...

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