The term deus ex machina refers to the circumstance where an implausible concept or a divine character is introduced into a storyline, for the purpose of resolving its conflict and procuring an interesting outcome. The use of deus ex machina is discouraged, for the reason that the presence of it within a plot is viewed as a sign of an ill-structured plot. Hence, deus ex machina is a rather debatable, and often criticized, form of literary device. It denotes scenes in which a crane machine was used to lower actors or statues playing a god or gods deus onto the stage to set things right, usually near the end of the play. Deus ex machinas are solutions. They are not to be seen as unexpected twists and turns in the storyline that end up making things worse, and not as something that contributes towards changing the understanding of the story. Further, it must be shown that the problem solved by a deus ex machina is one that is unsolvable or otherwise hopeless. It is also that they are sudden or unexpected. This means that the inherent capacity of deus ex machina to solve the mystery is not apparent until the time the device is actually employed to procure a viable ending for the plot.
Did You Know?
Requirements of Deus Ex Machina
The term was first used in ancient Greek and Roman drama , where it meant the timely appearance of a god to unravel and resolve the plot. Since ancient times, the phrase has also been applied to an unexpected saviour or to an improbable event that brings order out of chaos e. Deus ex machina. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree See Article History. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. The lavish use of flying machines is attested by the poet Antiphanes, who wrote that tragic playwrights lifted up a machine as readily as they lifted a finger when they had nothing else to say.
Top definition. Deus Ex Machina. Dates from ancient Greek times, where " deus ex machina " "god from the machine" in a play referred to the act of lowering a god on stage using a cable device therefore, a god from a machine to decide in a dilemma and give fate a nudge, so to say. These days, deus ex machina has the negative connotation of an utterly improbable, illogical or baseless plot twist that drastically alters the situation, as if the "deus ex machina" came down to give fate that little push. I liked the movie, but the ending was total crap
To save this word, you'll need to log in. The New Latin term deus ex machina is a translation of a Greek phrase and means literally "a god from a machine. The practice of introducing a god at the end of a play to unravel and resolve the plot dates from at least the 5th century B.