Literary Term Poetic Justice

Literary Term Poetic Justice

Poetic justice refers to the idea that virtue is ultimately rewarded and vice is punished appropriately within a story. It’s a narrative device where virtue is rewarded, and wrongdoing or villainy is punished, often in a way that feels fitting or satisfying to the audience. This concept has been employed across various forms of literature to create a sense of balance or moral resolution within a story. This allows for a sense of closure or moral lesson.

The term was first used by Thomas Rhymer in “Tragedies of the Last Age”(1678). Here are the characteristics of poetic justice in literature.

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  1. Moral Balance: Poetic justice refers to the idea that in a story, the characters’ actions result in consequences that align with their moral choices. Good deeds are rewarded, and wrongdoings are appropriately punished.
  2. Alignment with Morality: Characters’ fates or outcomes are often tied to their virtues or vices. Heroes, who demonstrate positive qualities like bravery or kindness, usually achieve success or happiness. Villains, on the other hand, face punishment or downfall due to their evil deeds.
  3. Narrative Closure: Poetic justice often provides closure to the audience by tying up loose ends and delivering a conclusion that feels emotionally fulfilling.
  4. Reflects Social Values: It reflects the prevailing social and moral values of the time. It supports the idea that virtue is rewarded and vice is punished, serving as a moral lesson for readers.

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  1. Enhances Engagement: It engages readers by providing a sense of satisfaction and fairness. This allows them to emotionally connect with the story and its characters.
  2. Symbolic Significance: Poetic justice can carry symbolic significance. This illustrates broader themes or ideas about ethics, morality, and the consequences of actions.
Riya Akter
Riya Akter
Hey, This is Riya Akter Setu, B.A (Hons) & M.A in English from National University.


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