The phrase Deus Ex Machina refers to any artificial device used in the play to resolve the complexities of a plot. In Roman and Greek drama, typically God becomes the Deus Ex Machina who is brought in to solve impossible issues. In writing, it refers to an ending that appears out of the blue leaving the writer wondering how it came about. Anyway it is a technique used by writers to solve some problems in the plot maybe by introducing a new character or any other improbable item that may defy all logic.
The Latin phrase Deus Ex Machina has its origin in the 1690s from the Greek phrase theos ek m?khan?s which translates literally to ‘god out of a machine’. It was a device or stage machinery used in Greek theater where a God or statue of deities was lowered on to the stage to help the protagonist trapped in a difficult situation. The feminine is dea ex machina. An example of Deus Ex Machina in drama or any work of fiction would be the sudden appearance of an angel in the plot who rises to solve the problems.
Euripides, the Greek tragedian often made use of the deus ex machina in a number of his tragedies, to arrive at some resolution in the story. Early rumors during that time suggested that Euripides may have invented the technique of deus ex machina. In his play “Alcestis”, the heroine, in a bid to save her husband Admetus’s life, is willing to sacrifice her own life. Heracles appears in the end as the deus ex machina and saves Alcestis from death and restores her to her husband. In Euripides’s play “Medea” ,the deus ex machina is used to take Medea safely to the city of Athens.
In Modern usage the Deus Ex Machina device appears in soap operas and action movies. Viewers hooked to soap operas may be accustomed to the frequent use of this device in the plot. It is not uncommon for a character supposedly dead to appear suddenly on the scene to untangle the complex story line. Similarly in some stories the deus ex machina may appear in the form of a twin character who is responsible for committing the crimes. In the movie “The Life of Brian” a space ship appears from nowhere and is seen as the deus ex machina, in saving Brian from a high fall.
The technique of Deus Ex Machina is generally not favored in writing and just denotes lack of adequate story telling skill by the author. Many a times the sudden emergence of a character or item seems highly improbable and the conclusion of a story may be completely different from what could have happened otherwise. The use of the deus ex machina is generally looked down upon by critics as it defies all logic and doesn’t conform to the internal plot of the story.