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Verisimilitude means probability in the depiction of characters and situations. It is a theoretical device that determines the level of truth in an assertion or hypothesis. Creations of the illusion of reality is the chief aim of the dramatic and fictional art, and this is achieved by the note of authenticity in the depiction of experiences and in the structural arrangement of plot and character. The action and characters represented in a work of art must seem to the reader probable. It is the truth of literature, and not the truth of life that constitutes the verisimilitude. In this sense even such a work as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner may be said to have verisimilitude.
How to Pronounce Verisimilitude
Verisimilitude is pronounced as ve-ri-si-mi-li-tude
The term verisimilitude originates from the Latin “verisimilitudo,” which is derived from “verisimilis” (meaning “probably”); “verus” (meaning “true”); and “similis” (meaning “like”).
The word, verisimilitude means ‘the quality of resembling reality.’ In drama and the novel, characters and situations must be made credible. Extremes of vices and virtues in characters and sudden conversions have to be avoided. Fielding says: “every good author will confine himself within the bounds of probability.” Aristotle prefers a probable or likely impossibility to an improbable or unconvincing possibility. In many dramas and novels, sudden conversions take place and actions and characters are not united into causal relationship. In sentimental dramas and novels, virtue is rewarded at the end, vice is punished.
Verisimilitude Examples in Literature
In The Duchess of Malfi, Bosola who is a tool-villain murders Ferdinand and the Cardinal. This is done only to assert the moral vision of the dramatist, In David Copperfield Micawber who is depicted all through as a do-nothing fellow becomes a successful magistrate. Sidney Carton, a morose and lousy man becomes heroic at the end. The marriage between Oak and Bathsheba at the end of Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd and Dinah Morris and Adam Bede in George Eliot’s Adam Bede are cases of poetic justice. What is essential in a drama or a narrative is the dramatic truth of things.
Verisimilitude in Film
Verisimilitude is enhanced by filmmakers presenting certain facts and parameters of a film’s reality.
In Terminator 2 we start with a look into the future where we see the human resistance fighting against machines, we’re then taken back to the present day. This does two things to help foster the verisimilitude for the crazy shit that is to come;
1) we’re shown that time is fluid,
2) we see that machine’s are very advanced in the future and can fight in wars.