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What is a recognition scene?

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A recognition scene (cognitio) is that moment, typically at the end of a comedy, in which long-lost characters are reunited. In many cases, especially those in Shakespeare's plays, those who have been lost are presumed dead; thus, the moment of recognition initially involves a sense of a resurrection or quasi-resurrection having taken place. In classical epic and drama, where such scenes originate (Odysseus' meeting with his nurse Eurycleaia in Book 19 of The Odyssey is the locus classicus), the recognition scene involves an explanation as to how the character who was lost at sea, abducted by thieves, and so on, survived. Recognition scenes are a standard convention of romance, and persist in biblical, medieval, Renaissance, and modern drama as well.
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