Literary Term Three Unities

Literary Term Three Unities

The three unities in literature refer to the unity of action, time, and place. This means a play should have a single main storyline, take place in a short period, and occur in a single location. 

The three literary unities are principles derived from classical Greek drama, particularly from Aristotle’s “Poetics.” They emphasize coherence and structural elements within a play:

Read More: Literary Term Epigram

  1. Unity of Time: This refers to the idea that the events portrayed in a play or narrative should occur within a single day or a reasonable amount of time. It means the single revolution of the sun. The unity of time aims to create a sense of compactness and coherence in the storytelling.
  2. Unity of Place: This suggests that the action of a play or story should develop in a single location or, at the most, in places that are nearby or connected. The unity of place helps focus the narrative and prevents unnecessary distractions by confining the action to a specific setting.
  3. Unity of Action: This principle emphasizes that a play or story should have a single main plotline with no subplots unrelated to the main storyline. The unity of action encourages a tight structure by concentrating on a central conflict or theme without unnecessary diversions. 

Read More: Literary Term Melodrama

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These unities were formalized by Aristotle and were considered guidelines for classical playwrights, particularly in Greek tragedies and later in neoclassical drama. However, their strict adherence has become less common in modern literature, allowing for more diverse and expansive storytelling techniques.

Riya Akter
Riya Akter
Hey, This is Riya Akter Setu, B.A (Hons) & M.A in English from National University.


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