What is Exposition? Definition, Examples of the Exposition in a Story

Definition of exposition: The exposition of a story is the opening part in which the audience is introduced to the characters and their situation. Exposition is the first point in Freytag’s pyramid.

What is The Exposition of a Story?

What does exposition mean? In the exposition of a story, the author introduces the situation of the story. It is here where the audience is introduced to the setting and to the characters.

Examples of Exposition:

In Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, the wolf, who lives out in the country, is introduced to readers while baking a cake for his grandmother.

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the readers learn that the main characters are lovers from two feuding families, the Capulets and Montagues, in Verona, Italy. We see this through a feuding street fight between the Capulet and Montague families.

The Function of Exposition

whats an exposition The purpose of the exposition is to give the audience a basis for understanding the story in a film or piece of literature. Without this starting point, the audience would not be able to connect with the characters easily.

Understanding who the characters are and the world in which they live gives us the ability to relate to the struggle they attempt to overcome throughout the course of the plot.

Examples of Exposition in Literature

Exposition is used in literature to introduce the reader to the characters and setting of the story being told.

Examples of Literary Exposition:

whats expositionIn Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”, the reader is introduced to the characters Montresor and Fortunato.

Montresor, the narrator, reveals that he has been has been irreparably insulted by Fortunato. Montresor, therefore, plans to exact his revenge on Fortunato during the celebration of carnival.

This information is important to the story because it sets up the characters and background information of the story. Additionally, we learn why Montresor chooses carnival for his revenge: his foe will likely be caught off guard as well as full of wine during this time of celebration.

In Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the reader is introduced to the main character and narrator, Christopher, as he discovers the slain body of his neighbor’s dog. The setting is his home in England where he lives with his father.

Through the introduction of Christopher, we learn that he has autism and views the world with a unique mindset. This allows the reader to understand his perspective before he encounters the central conflict in the plot.

Exposition in Movies and Film

what is the meaning of exposition in a storyIn movies, unlike literature, the main characters and setting will be shown rather than explained through a narrator because they have actors and scenery to aid in the telling of stories.

In Disney-Pixar’s Finding Nemo, the exposition is the opening scene where the audience is introduced to the main characters Marlin and Nemo. The audience learns that Marlin lost his wife before Nemo was born and this leads him to be a protective father over his only child.

By including the exposition, this allows the viewer to understand the character of Marlin and follow him through his journey of allowing his son to experience life.

Not all movies utilize visual exposition, however. The Star Wars film franchise makes use of exposition through the scrolling text that begins each movie. This text outlines the characters and the situation in which they currently find themselves.


Define exposition: The exposition of a story is the beginning of the plot where the reader learns the characters and the setting of the story.

This exposition is important to include so that the reader is able to understand the characters before they encounter a major struggle they must overcome in the story. It allows a deeper connection between the reader and the character.