Catastrophe: The culmination of the falling action in the plot of a story or drama. Catastrophe is one of five structural elements associated with Freytag’s Pyramid, a model developed by nineteenth-century German writer Gustav Freytag for analyzing five-act plays (tragedies in particular). The term catastrophe may be applied to the concluding action of any work but is usually reserved for tragedies. The catastrophe often involves the death of the hero, but some other tragic outcome may occur instead.
EXAMPLE: In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth (1606), the catastrophe occurs in the penultimate scene in which Macbeth dies during a sword fight with Macduff.