Epiphany means to reveal. Traditionally, the term epiphany was used to refer to the appearance of a supernatural being-such as Christ being revealed to the three wise kings, or Magi, in the Bible.
In literature, epiphany is that moment in the story when the truth is revealed to a character. An epiphany is an "ah-ha" moment for the character.
The original epiphany occurs in the Bible when three wise kings, or Magi, see a divine star in the sky, and it leads them to the Christ child. His nature-as a king-is revealed to them, while the rest of the world is unaware.
In the movie Clueless, Cher has an epiphany near the end of the movie when she realizes that the reason she doesn't want her friend to have a crush on her step-brother Josh is because she is actually in love with him.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout has an epiphany near the end of the novel, as she stands on Boo Radley's porch and realizes what Atticus has been trying to teach her throughout the story:
I turned to go home. Street lights winked down the street all the way to town. I had never seen our neighborhood from this angle. There were Miss Maudie's, Miss Stephanie's-there was our house, I could see the porch swing-Miss Rachel's house was beyond us, plainly visible. I could even see Mrs. Dubose's . . . Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.
In Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," a woman's husband is believed to be dead, and suddenly, she feels free-freed by his death. Just before she has the epiphany, these words describe what is happening in the main character's mind:
There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her.
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