In his Master's thesis, titled The peripeteia, an analysis of reversal speeches by Barbara Bush, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon B. Johnson, Christopher James Anderson of Iowa State University did exactly this, and presented some justification:
It is important to note that peripity need not always be concerned
with tragedy. Aristotle has defined peripeteia as a reversal of the action.
Humphrey House, author of Aristotle’s Poetics, goes a step further
and defines it as a “reversal of intention.”3 This definition takes
into account the “thought” or the daimio exercised by the character.
House describes it as “holding the wrong end of the stick.” Peripeteia can
then be determined to be deciding the proper side of an argument or
event and moving to that side.
Another definition, more recently interpreted, comes from noted
literary critic Frank Kermode. He defines it as a “disconfirmation
followed by a consonance; the interest of having our expectations
falsified is obviously related to our wish to reach discovery by an
unexpected route. It has nothing to do with our reluctance to get
there at all. So that in assimilating the peripeteia we are enacting
that readjustment of our expectations in regard to an end.”4 This
definition leads to a sense of accomplishment that can occur when a
peripeteia is properly enabled. Here it is clear that the outcome lies not in tragedy as with the Shakespearean example noted earlier,
but in triumph.
Mr Anderson then goes on to examine the eponymous speeches where he feels peripeteia happens in the positive sense.
The footnotes mentioned above:
- House, Aristotle’s Poetics, p 96
- Kermode, The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction, p 18