As a retarding moment we usually call a scene in the course of a drama. However, the retarding moment can also be found in other genera of literature. Particularly in the novella or ballad, there are absolutely comparable elements (→ literary genres).
The term is derived from the French verb retarder, which can be delayed, delayed or reset. This derivation points immediately to what is involved here: namely a delay in the process.
The retarding moment is a delay in the action of the drama and thus serves to increase the tension. In this way, the retarded moment stands opposite the thrust of the impulsive moment which usually initiates the dramatic work. The typical tension curve in the drama is thus as follows:
Retarding moment in classical drama
Tip: Where is the retardation shown?
Tragedy: In tragedy the retarding moment is a scene that makes us hope that the hero (protagonist) can still be saved. This hope, however, turns out to be wrong.
Comedy: Here the retarding moment can be described as an event that delays the happy ending of an action, which seems to be already palpable, in order to build the tension in drama.
Classical Five-Cent: The retarding moment is typically found in the fourth act of the classical five-fifth century, culminating in the peripetia that reverses the catastrophe, countering the exciting moment of the beginning.
Retarding moment in Maria Stuart
Basically, the retardation is very easy to recognize. It occurs to us because it delays the action once more and thus boosts the tension before the end.
Nevertheless, we would like to illustrate the whole case by means of an example. Let us look at the individual acts of Maria Stuart. Thus it should be seen in what context exposure, excitatory moment, climax, retarding moment and disaster are in the drama.
I. Act Exposure
(exciting moment) prehistory; Situation of Mary (captivity); Justification for the death sentence, which is imminent and the consequences of it.
II Act Act of the State Council on the death sentence of Maria Stuart; the apparent appearance of Mortimer on the murder order of Elizabeth; Leicester, and Mortimer’s discussion of the liberation of Mary; Leicester encourages Elisabeth to agree to a meeting with Mary.
III. Act Peripety (climax) The two queens, Maria and Elisabeth, meet in the garden of Fotheringhay; Mortimer’s passionate sentiment against Maria.
IV. Act retarded moment betrayal by Leicester; Mortimer’s plan of exemption failed; Mortimer dies; The death sentence, which Leicester agrees with.
V. Act Catastrophe Death of Maria Stuart; Punishment of Elizabeth (Abandonment)
Already in the exposition, we are shown as a reader that Maria Stuart will die, since she was condemned to death. However, we are hoping that Maria could escape this cruel ending and are willing to believe that Mortimer’s rescue attempt could be successful. However, he failed and the drama inevitably ends in disaster: Mary’s death.
Consequently, the dramatic end is only delayed by the retardation in the fourth act, even if it is already clear beforehand that it will be so and not otherwise.
In Maria Stuart, the basic principle is thus very clear and we are able to read an exemplary voltage curve as was shown in the above composition model.
Retarding moment at a glance
The retarding moment is a scene that delays the end of the dramatic action and thus increases the tension, even if the end is inevitable.
In tragedy it is the end of the hero, whereby we believe that there might still be hope; in the comedy it is the postponement of the happy ending.
It forms the “last chance” of escaping the unambiguous end again and bringing another. However, this attempt failed.
The classic structure is: exposure, exciting moment, climax / turning point, retarding moment, disaster / end