Dramatism , an interpretive communication studies theory, was developed by Kenneth Burke as a tool for analyzing human relationships. 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. As cited in "A Note on Burke on "Motive"", the author recognized the importance of "motive" in Burke's work. To understand people's movement and intentions, the theorist sets up the 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. Kenneth Burke was an established literary critic originally influenced by Shakespeare and Aristotle 's rhetoric at the time he developed his Dramatism theory. Using his classical education of literature and rhetoric as a foundation, Dramatism was largely influenced by the philosophies of Karl Marx , Friedrich Nietzsche , and Sigmund Freud. The joining of these ideologies pushed Burke's work from literary to cultural criticism. Why use "drama" as the metaphor? According to West, [9] there are three basic reasons that drama is a useful metaphor to the idea of Dramatism. It is possible because Burke believes that Drama has recognizable genres. Humans use language in patterned discourses, and texts move us with recurring patterns underlying those texts. Language strategies are central to Burke's dramatistic approach. Because of the complexity and extension of Burke's thinking, it is difficult to label the ontology behind his theory. However, some basic assumptions can still be extracted to support the understanding of dramatism. The dramatistic pentad is an instrument used as a set of relational or functional principles that could help us understand what he calls the 'cycle cluster of terms' people use to attribute motive. It reveals the nuances and complications of language as symbolic action, which in turn, opens up our perspective. In the edition of Grammar , Burke added a new element, Attitude, thereby making the Pentad a Hexad. David Ling used the Pentad elements to evaluate Senator Edward Ted Kennedy 's now-infamous speech in to persuade the audiences to see him as a victim of his family curse instead of the one who should be responsible for an accident which caused death of Mary Jo Kopechne. From Kennedy's statement, Ling recognized several elements from the Pentad: [21]. Kennedy's response to the Chappaquiddick Incident :. Kennedy denied his relationship with the dead woman, described his survival as a fate, and described the difficulty of rescuing the woman at the scene. He pivoted the fact and described it as a circumstance that he couldn't control. Ultimately, Kennedy escaped the incident with very little damage to his social and political capital as demonstrated by the continuation of his year career in the U. These events were eventually adapted into John Curran's film Chappaquiddick in Dramatistic ratios are the "proportions of one element relative to another in the Dramatism Pentad", [9] which can be used to find the dominant element in the interaction. Any complete statement about motives will offer some kind of answers to the five questions above. This is called a ratio , and there are ten possible ratios within the Pentad. Burke maintained that analyzing the ratios of a speaker's presentation would expose the resources of ambiguity people might exploit to interpret complex problems. When engaged in a dramatistic study, he notes, "the basic unit of action would be defined as 'the human body in conscious or purposive motion'", which is an agent acting in a situation. Identification is the basic function of sociality, using both positive and negative associations. When there is overlap between two people in terms of their substance, they have identification.

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