Deus ex machina

What is Deus ex machina in literature?

Deus ex machina is a Latin term that translates to “god from the machine”. In literature, it refers to a plot device in which an improbable or unexpected event, character, or object is introduced to resolve a difficult or seemingly impossible situation.

The term originates from ancient Greek theater, where a mechanical device called a “machina” was used to lower actors playing gods onto the stage to resolve the plot. The use of deus ex machina was often seen as a convenient and artificial way to wrap up a play or story, and it is generally considered a poor writing technique in modern literature.

For example, imagine a story in which the protagonist is in a seemingly impossible situation, facing certain death. Suddenly, a previously unknown character with special powers or knowledge appears out of nowhere to save the protagonist, resolving the conflict in a quick and unsatisfying way. This would be an example of a deus ex machina.

The use of deus ex machina can be seen as a lazy or unsatisfying way to resolve a story, as it does not allow for a natural or believable resolution to the conflict. However, there are some instances where it can be used effectively, such as in satirical or comedic works where the use of such a device is intentionally over-the-top and absurd.

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