chapter  19
Dramatism and the Theatrical Metaphor
Pages 14

At its simplest, dramatism is a method of examining and analyzing social action and people's explanations of social actions. The method understands five elements-the "pentad"—to be basic in explaining all social action: in Kenneth Burke's rendition, "any complete statement about motives will offer some kind of answers to these five questions: what was done (act), when or where it was done (scene), who did it (agent), how he did it (agency), and why (purpose)" (1969a:vx). Mystification occurs when only one or two of these five elementsact or scene or agent-are presented as the explanation for what is, or will be, taking place, and participants in or observers of some activity are persuaded by the parsimonious lure of such explanations to formulate the other elements as consistent. This concern for mystification (which has tenuous links to Marxist thought) is an emblem in all Burke's work that is reflected most faithfully in the writings of Hugh Dalziel Duncan (especially 1962, 1968, 1969). Yet any dramatistic analysis is inherently critical and demystifying in examining all elements of social action, in inquiring as to the priority attached to one or another

aspect of the pentad, and in trying to "round ou t" accounts of social action so as to give due weight to all five elements and their relative consistency.