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Rising Action in Literature: Examples That Build the Climax

Examples of Rising Action in Literature
Rising action is a part of the plot that helps build the climax. It precedes the climax and develops curiosity and intrigue in the minds of the readers. Penlighten has listed out some examples of rising action in literature.
Neha B Deshpande
Last Updated: Mar 4, 2018
Importance of 'Rising Action'
'Rising action' helps to delicately weave the climax in the story. While knitting the thoughts in his mind, the reader comes to know the pattern of the story. Moreover, it depicts that moment when there is a change in the thinking of the protagonist, which will give birth to the climax in future. If you're writing a 'rising action' part of the story, make sure you create an incident that hugely impacts the mind of the protagonist, and portrays conflict.
'Rising action' is a part of the plot immediately preceding the climax. It slowly builds the reader's anticipation towards the climax. As the name suggests, it indicates the impending action by weaving situations around the protagonists that will lead to the climax.

This part is equally important, since it lays down the groundwork for the climax. According to the German novelist, Gustav Freytag, a plot is essentially divided into five parts: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and DĂ©nouement. Let's take a look at a few prominent examples of 'rising action' in literature.
'Romeo and Juliet' by Shakespeare
This popular play narrates the love of Romeo and Juliet set against the backdrop of their respective feuding families―Capulets and Montagues. The hatred between the two families is too strong for the two lovers to unite. While Juliet is forced to marry someone else, Romeo is banished as a penalty for killing Tybalt, Juliet's cousin. Eventually, they decide to secretly marry; however, a miscommunication leads Romeo to believe that Juliet is dead, and he kills himself. In grief, Juliet too stabs herself. The families realize that their folly has resulted into the death of their children.

Rising action:
Rising action in this play is when Romeo meets Juliet for the first time, and they both are smitten by each other. So deep is their love that Romeo risks his life to meet Juliet and climbs to her balcony. All these events build the sequence for the climax of the story.
'Hamlet' by Shakespeare
A popular play by Shakespeare, tells the tragic story of Prince Hamlet who is on the quest of seeking revenge for his father's death, King Hamlet. What follows is a killing spree, and the entire royal family ends up killing themselves.

Rising action:
Rising action occurs when it is revealed to Prince Hamlet by his father's ghost that he was killed by his own brother, the present king, Claudius. The ghost asks him to avenge his death, and Hamlet makes it the purpose of his life, sometimes, even leading to occasional pangs of madness.
'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen
Story that revolves around the prejudiced Elizabeth and the proud Darcy, who, due to their negative traits, misunderstand each other. However, they end up falling for each other after realizing their follies.

Rising action:
The rising action occurs when Elizabeth, alias Lizzy, who has certain prejudices about Darcy, slowly begins to learn about his true nature and discovers that there's more to him than mere pride. Lydia's elopement, and Darcy slowly falling for Elizabeth, all form part of the rising action.
'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott
This novel is a story of four women - Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy, their everyday life when their father is away at war and their financial struggles, along with dealing with adulthood, love, relationships, jealousy, etc.

Rising action:
One of the rising action in this story is when Laurie, the grandson of their neighbor visits his grandfather's place. He develops a close bond with the girls, and even develops romantic feelings for Jo. He has a special place in the March family as a close aide, and he influences the life of the girls. Eventually, the later part of the novel reveals that he finally marries Amy.
'Emma' by Jane Austen
Emma is the story of a vivacious, socially active, young rich woman who thinks that she is good at matchmaking, and often interferes in the romantic lives of others, trying to play cupid. Much to the dismay of Mr. Knightley, who dissuades her from poking her nose into others' businesses, she continues to create a web of relationship problems in others' lives. Emma is also in the pursuit of setting up her friend Harriet with Mr. Elton.

Rising action:
Rising action occurs when it slowly dawns upon Emma that her actions are going wrong, somewhere. Her attempt to set up Harriet and Mr. Elton is serving no good, and in a fit of her aggressive and haughty nature, she even insults Miss Bates, her neighbor. She retrospects her immaturity, and this leads to the climax where she discovers that she is actually in love with Mr. Knightley.
'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini
This is a story of Amir and Hassan, two friends who, though separated by class differences, have boundless love for each other. Set in the war-torn country of Afghanistan, one incident involving Amir and Hassan leaves a deep scar and feelings of remorse and guilt in Amir's mind. Years later, Amir eventually finds reason and courage to confront his past and set things right between him and his friend.

Rising action :
Rising action is created in this case, when the protagonist Amir, receives a call from Rahim, and he reveals that his childhood friend Hassan and his wife is dead (in Afghanistan), and their son Sohrab is in the hands of the Taliban. This gives him an opportunity to correct his past misdoings and recover from his guilt. The author creates rising action by making Amir face his past again, revealing that his friend is no more. Due to this, the climax of the story occurs, wherein Amir decides to fight Aseef, who had raped his friend years ago.
Examples of rising actions can also be seen in movies, wherein certain incidents and scenes lead to the climax. For example, in the movie 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire', the rising action occurs throughout the Triwizard tournament, in which the participants, along with Harry, have to go complete various tasks to reach the cup. This leads to the climax, wherein Harry and Cedric both reach out for the cup, not realizing that it is in fact a portkey that will lead him to Lord Voldemort.
Rising actions keep the viewers/readers interested and increase anticipation of an impending climax. Any plot develops gradually, and rising action serves as a prelude for the climax.
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