Difference Between Prologue and Epilogue

Main Difference – Prologue vs Epilogue

Prologue and epilogue are two separate sections of a literary work such as novel or drama. They can be in the form of a short speech, poem, narrative, elegy, etc. This is a technique used by writers to give additional detail to the story. It is important to note that not all books contain both prologue and epilogue; books often contain one or the other. The main difference between prologue and epilogue is that prologue is situated at the beginning of the story whereas epilogue is situated at the end of the story; the prologue comes before the story, and the epilogue comes after the story. Based on this main difference, some other differences can be also noted between these two sections.

What is a Prologue

Prologue can be defined as a separate, introductory section of a literary work. It sets the tone and establishes the setting and provides background details. It is naturally shorter than an actual chapter, and may only be a page or two in length. Often it provides some back story about events prior to the novel. A prologue can introduce characters of a story and throws light on their roles. Given below is a classic example of a prologue, taken from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Note how the author uses the prologue to provide background details and establish the setting. This also serves as an introduction to the play.

“Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean….”Difference Between Prologue and Epilogue

What is an Epilogue

Epilogue is the opposite of the prologue. It is situated at the end of a literary work and serves as a conclusion to the story. It provides information about the fates of the characters of the story. The prologue may be set far in the future, or just a few days later. Sometimes, an epilogue can be used to cover loose ends of the story; it can describe what happened to the issues which were not resolved in the story itself. It can be also used to give some hints about the sequel of the book.

Sometimes an author may use a different perspective or tone in the epilogue. This may help to separate the epilogue from the rest of the story.

Given below is the epilogue from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

“A glooming peace this morning with it brings;

The sun for sorrow will not show his head.

Go hence to have more talk of these sad things,

Some shall be pardoned, and some punished,

For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”Main Difference - Prologue vs Epilogue

Difference Between Prologue and Epilogue

Definition

Prologue is the separate introductory section of a literary work.

Epilogue is a short section found at the end of the book.

Position

Prologue comes before the story.

Epilogue comes after the story.

Introduction vs Conclusion

Prologue serves as an introduction.

Epilogue serves as a conclusion.

Function

Prologue can introduce characters, establish the setting and provide background details.

Epilogue can provide details about the fate of the characters and tie up loose ends unresolved in the story.Difference Between Prologue and Epilogue - infographic

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