What is Rising Action? Definition, Examples of Literary Rising Action

Rising action definition: The rising action is the element of a plot that occurs after the exposition and builds the conflict.

What is Rising Action?

What does rising action mean? Rising action is one of the major points of a plot, or storyline. Rising action occurs after the exposition (introduction) and before the climax (highest point of interest).

Rising action presents and develops the major conflict in the text. Minor conflicts may also arise during the rising action.

The rising action exists to pique the reader’s interest and develop conflict and characters before the climax, which is the most interesting point in the text or the turning point in the text.

Common Rising Action Examples

Rising action definition literature To explore this concept further, let’s look at the Disney film, The Lion King.

In the exposition of this movie, the characters are introduced. Furthermore, the basis of the conflict is addressed (Scar’s motives to be King).

The rising action includes all of the moments before Simba returns to Pride Rock.

Significant elements of the rising action include:

  • Development of Simba’s character
  • Development of the conflict between Scar and Simba
  • Scar’s plot to kill Mufasa
  • Simba’s guilt and exile
  • Scar’s reign as King
  • Simba’s maturity including meeting new characters
  • Simba’s inevitable return

The Function of Rising Action

What is a rising action The rising action exists to “unravel” the plot.

The exposition introduces characters and conflict. The rising action develops and deepens the relationships between, among, or within characters. Furthermore, the rising action creates interest and suspense as the plot builds to the climax.

Conflicts should not be resolved during the rising action because the rising action builds to the height of the conflict(s).

There is no set “length” to rising action; its length depends on where the climax occurs. For traditional texts, the climax is either in the middle or middle-end of the text. Some texts end shortly after the climax which means most of the text is rising action.

Examples of Rising Action in Literature

Rising action literary definition What is rising action in literature? Most Shakespeare plays follow a traditional plot structure where the climax occurs in the middle of the text. In Romeo and Juliet, the climax occurs in Act 3 when Romeo is banished from Verona for killing Tybalt.

All actions that precede the fight scene (minus some exposition in Act 1) is rising action.

Romeo’s banishment is the climax because it is where the play quickly becomes dark and unpredictable. Most of the play prior to this scene includes the excitement of the young lovers. However, at this point, Juliet must make a choice regarding her affections and her family.

Summary: What is the Rising Action of a Story?

Rising action meaning Define rising action in literature: the definition of rising action is the period in a story after the introduction that builds to the climax.

In summary,

  • Rising action includes all of the plot point after the exposition and before the climax.
  • Rising action is where characters and conflict are developed.
  • There is no set length for rising action, rather, its length is determined by when the climax occurs.