Narrative Techniques: #19 Poetic Justice

Narrative Techniques: #19 Poetic Justice

The journey in our series of narrative techniques continues. This time we are talking about “Poetic Justice“. It is a narrative technique that has to do with what is right to happen and that carries with it a moral lesson.

What is the Narrative Technique of Poetic Justice?

In every story, there is a good and a bad character. Often readers become attached to the good character. They would like the bad character to be given a just punishment. On the contrary, the good character is rewarded for his good actions. Simply put, the reader typically likes the story to end with a happy ending.
Poetic Justice is just that when good triumphs over evil.

Thomas Rymer coined the term ‘Poetic Justice’. He was a theater critic who wrote the essay ‘The Tragedies of the Last Age Consider’d’ in 1678.
According to Rymer, a narrative should tell of the triumph of good over evil to give readers an example of social morality.

What is the aim of Poetic Justice?

Many stories, like fairy tales, contain a final message or moral lesson.
Nowadays, however, there are several novels about ‘bad’ characters who sometimes win out over good.

The purpose of Poetic Justice is to celebrate justice and the concept of morality. It teaches readers that correct and just behavior is rewarded. Bad and incorrect behavior, on the other hand, is punished.

Narrative Technique of Poetic Justice: some examples

There are several examples of this narrative technique.

Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, the bad character, is represented by Mr. Bumble, the orphanage director. Mr. Bumble enjoys punishing the orphans. At the end of the novel, it turns out that Mr. Bumble becomes poor, just like the poor orphans he had always persecuted.

Another example of Poetic Justice, in more recent literature, is Harry Potter in books written by J.K.Rowling. At the end of the saga, Harry Potter succeeds in defeating Voldemort, a dark character against whom he has been fighting for years.

Finally, think of fairy tales. All Disney cartoons end with a happy ending.
For example, in the Little Mermaid, Ariel defeats Ursula, the evil sea witch. Ariel gets married to Prince Eric and lives happily ever after.

I’m going to kill you, Harry Potter. I’m going to destroy you. After tonight, no one will question my powers. After tonight, if they speak of you, they will speak only of how you begged to die and how I, as a merciful Lord, favored you.

Voldemort- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The innovative novel writing software of bibisco: an important help!

To write a story, you have to know where to start. Even if you have a good plot in mind, it is not always easy to write the words on paper and make the story compelling.

That is why there are narrative techniques that the author can use. You can clarify the characters, plot, ending, and narrative techniques that will capture your reader’s attention. Moreover, there is innovative novel writing software from bibisco. You can use it to put your ideas in order.

Narrative Techniques Series #19: Poetic Justice- bibisco's chapters section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s chapters section


The narrative technique Poetic Justice celebrates morality and the ending that everyone wants: good triumphing over evil.
It is more than a narrative technique. It is a lesson in life, where the good character is rewarded, and the bad character is punished.

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