One of my favorite rhetorical theorists, Kenneth Burke has done wonders for communication. As I said earlier, one of Burke’s most noted theories is dramatism. Dramatism is a metaphor introduced by 20th-century rhetorician Kenneth Burke to describe his critical method. Dramatism. 1. Dramatism; 2. Introduced by rhetorician Kenneth Burke, made its way into the field of communication in the early ‘s.

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Kennfth reveals the nuances and complications of language as symbolic action, which in turn, opens up our perspective. In a persuasive sentence, the verb indicates the act. Burke’s Perspective on Perspectives: Academic Amlong deconstructed print medias of the s addressing human rights as an aspect of educating women about the women’s rights movement. Central States Speech Journa.

Purpose may be layered and distracting, for example where an apparent good purpose cloaks an underlying selfish motive. Rhetoric Review4 1 The emphasis is on the expressive nature of the social bond. To understand people’s movement and intentions, the theorist sets up the Five Dramatistic Pentad strategy for viewing life, not as life itself, [5] by comparing each social unit involved in human activities as five elements of drama — act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose, [6] to answer the empirical question of how persons explain their actions, [2] and to find the ultimate motivations of human activities.

A grammar of motives.

Quarterly Journal of Speech, 86, In this theory, our lives are as if on a stage, setting us individuals as actors on that stage as a way to understand human motives and relations.

Index of language articles.

Burke’s Pentad: Dramatism

Burle is used in a variety of fields. Humans are symbol-using animals, inventors of the negative, separated from natural conditions by instruments of their own making, goaded by a spirit of hierarchy, and rotten with perfection. Burke’s concept of new rhetoric has also been expanded in various academic disciplines.


This may be a sequence of acts encompassed by an idea or principle. Transcending the Sub-Stance of Dramatism. In this perspective, Burke concluded that the ultimate motivation of man is to purge oneself of one’s sense burrke guilt through public speaking.

Kenneth Burke, Dramatism, the Pentad, and Identification: an Overview

Of note, the reasoning for Burke to emphasize his theory as literal relates to the reasons to why others claim it to be metaphorical: Burke wanted to understand the human motives behind the drama that is life. Burke says that wherever there is persuasion, there is rhetoric, and wherever there is meaning, there is persuasion.

He pivoted the fact and described it as a circumstance that he couldn’t control. It is very easy to understand and can be applied to the simplest scenarios or to the most complex.

Actions deal with the basic forms of thought.

Burke’s Five Elements of Dramatism

For example, the use of the people rather than the worker would more clearly tap into the lower middle-class values of the audience the movement was trying to reach. This is what took place. It may be a simple, single action, such as moving or speaking, or may be more complex and compound. The representative anecdote, can be either support or conceptual pivot, and in the case of drama is both support and conceptual pivot.

According to West, [7] there are three basic reasons that drama is a useful metaphor to the idea of Dramatism. State U of New York P. Dramatism in themes and poems.

Burke is responsible for the way we look at symbolic interaction as drama; this is called Dramatism. This Act is accomplished with the “Sub-Agency” of dramatiem electronic technology, the mass media.

However, this author notes that Burke’s work wasn’t a critique and examination of this relationship through dramatism, but rather that the theory of dramatism does give space to make such analyses.


Later scholars, such as Anne Caroline Crenshaw, [57] went on to note that Burke did identify gender relations in one instance in relation to his arguments on social hierarchies through his analysis of socio-sexual relations present in Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis. According to Burke, Guilt Redemption is considered the plot of all human drama, or the root of all rhetoric.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Not only is he proficient in communication theory, but he is also known for creative writing, social psychology, and linguistic analysis. A major concern of Burke’s was motives. Identification is the basic function of sociality, using both positive and negative associations. Two individuals can look at an event and possible see it different.

The agent is who or what did the act. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. They employ dramatism to show how these skills are critical in raising finance. The concept of a dramaturgical self was formulated by sociologist Erving Goffman was inspired by the theatre, and also finds roots in relations to Burke’s work. Typical research topics include corporate realm, business influence on federal policy agenda, even funerals and religious themes.

Language expert Kenneth Burke identified a method of analysing the semantic dimensions of language through a five-part ‘dramatism pentad’ that describes our living stories. In the edition of GrammarBurke added a new element, Attitude, thereby making the pentad a hexad. Many speakers experience a combination of these two guilt-purging options.