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Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.

Freytag's Pyramid


Freytag's Pyramid is a diagram cooked up in 1863 by Gustav Freytag to chart the structure of tragedy, but we use it here at Shmoop to talk about the plot structure of just about any piece of prose.

We begin with exposition, then it's on to rising action, we hit a complication, move on to the climax, get a reversal, kick it with some falling action, and then finally the resolution and dénouement.

A bit formulaic, sure, but you can actually track this pattern in quite a few tragedies, as well as novels, movies, and television shows. See our plot analysis of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House for Freytag in action.