This type of experience is an intense summative response to an arts event which has been aesthetically engineered to create that response. Typically at the end of an arts event, it can be elicited through layers of inter-connected artistic elements and aesthetic responses.
A common place to have this type is at the end of a play or movie. From a structural perspective, it could be considered the climax of the plot. However, that’s only really referring to the story of the play/movie. That’s just one element (and aesthetic experience type) that builds to the cathartic response. There may be lots of other elements, such as a build-up of music (perhaps a reprise of music from earlier on), lighting or other special effects, and/or staging strategies such as bringing on the full cast (often done gradually).
Pick a movie or a play that’s inspired you, and watch it again to notice exactly what elements add together to make a powerful experience at the end.
Here’s an example from the ending of the “Lion King”. I picked this example, because the cathartic experience in children’s films can be so explicit, it’s easy to analyze:
At the very end of The Lion King:
1. the conflict between Simba and Scar comes to a climax (STORY) complete with storm, fire, and the accompanying music (SPECTACLE), a dark brooding colour scheme (CLASSIC)
2. the next scene opens with a big musical build-up, birds flying by in flocks, the wind blowing in Simba’s mane (SPECTACLE), and the sun rising (CLASSIC)
3. Rafiki holds up Simba and Nala’s baby in direct reference to the opening scene of the movie (STORY)
4. the music builds and ends with a big thump and the main title of the film (SPECTACLE)