Kenneth Burke's Pentad by Jacen Wesiri
Imperial Database > Kenneth Burke's Pentad by Jacen Wesiri

Kenneth Burke's Pentad, free interpretation by Jacen Wesiri.



Burke's Pentad, or Dramatization, is a simple method for evaluation of the interaction of people within dramatic events dating back to its publication in 1945. While intended for such philosophical evaluation, such as in literature, it can easily be used for the purpose of writing. All the particular aspects: Act, Scene, Agent, Agency, and Purpose, refer to specific aspects of the drama. To help demonstrate their importance and interdependence, a star is often used to symbolize the Pentad.


Act: This typically answers the "What" question. Some possible questions to be answered could be "What Happened?", and "What is going on?" The act could be an emotional event, like falling in love, or something mental, like pondering a recent event, like the death of a close friend.


Scene: This typically answers the "When and Where" question. Some possible questions to be answered could be "Where is this happening?" or "When is this happening?" This would also be the aspect under which to ascribe all relevant back ground information that would be included.


Agent: This typically answers the "Who" question. Some possible questions to be answereed could be "Who is involved in the action?" and "What are their roles?" The Agent does not have to be a person, as it could easily be other causes, such as economic forces causing a scarcity of some obscure widget or something along those lines.


Agency: This typically answers the "How" question. Some possible questions to be answered could be something like "How does this particular event come about?" or "How do the characters act?" Some possible methods would be to describe the technique involved, or how the events played out to allow that particular action to succeed or fail.


Purpose: This typically answers the "Why" question. Some possible questions to be answered could be something like "Why did the character respond in such a way?" or "Why does the character regard that particular group of people in such a way?" This is the section which deals with intentions.

Reference: Burke's Pentad