Aristotle thesis on tragedy

This paper scrutinizes the two plays which are Hamlet and Oedipus the King. Critical discussion of this supposed procrastination has a long history. Goethe thought Hamlet too sensitive, Coleridge and A. The early 20th century English critic A.

Aristotle thesis on tragedy

He determines that tragedy, like all poetry, is a kind of imitation mimesisbut adds that it has a serious purpose and uses direct action rather than narrative to achieve its ends.

The aim of tragedy, Aristotle writes, is to bring about a "catharsis" of the spectators — to arouse in them sensations of pity and fear, and to purge them of these emotions so that they leave the theater feeling cleansed and uplifted, with a heightened understanding of the ways of gods and men.

This catharsis is brought about by witnessing some disastrous and moving change in the fortunes of the drama's protagonist Aristotle recognized that the change might not be disastrous, but felt this was the kind shown in the best tragedies — Oedipus at Colonus, for example, was considered a tragedy by the Greeks but does not have an unhappy ending.

Aristotle thesis on tragedy

According to Aristotle, tragedy has six main elements: Most of the Poetics is devoted to analysis of the scope and proper use of these elements, with illustrative examples selected from many tragic dramas, especially those of Sophocles, although Aeschylus, Euripides, and some playwrights whose works no longer survive are also cited.

Several of Aristotle's main points are of great value for an understanding of Greek tragic drama. Particularly significant is his statement that the plot is the most important element of tragedy: Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of action and life, of happiness and misery.

And life consists of action, and its end is a mode of activity, not a quality. Now character determines men's qualities, but it is their action that makes them happy or wretched. The purpose of action in the tragedy, therefore, is not the representation of character: Hence the incidents and the plot are the end of the tragedy; and the end is the chief thing of all.

Without action there cannot be a tragedy; there may be one without character. The plot, then, is the first principle, and, as it were, the soul of a tragedy: Aristotle goes on to discuss the structure of the ideal tragic plot and spends several chapters on its requirements.

He says that the plot must be a complete whole — with a definite beginning, middle, and end — and its length should be such that the spectators can comprehend without difficulty both its separate parts and its overall unity.

Moreover, the plot requires a single central theme in which all the elements are logically related to demonstrate the change in the protagonist's fortunes, with emphasis on the dramatic causation and probability of the events.

Aristotle thesis on tragedy

Aristotle has relatively less to say about the tragic hero because the incidents of tragedy are often beyond the hero's control or not closely related to his personality. The plot is intended to illustrate matters of cosmic rather than individual significance, and the protagonist is viewed primarily as the character who experiences the changes that take place.

This stress placed by the Greek tragedians on the development of plot and action at the expense of character, and their general lack of interest in exploring psychological motivation, is one of the major differences between ancient and modern drama.

Since the aim of a tragedy is to arouse pity and fear through an alteration in the status of the central character, he must be a figure with whom the audience can identify and whose fate can trigger these emotions. Aristotle says that "pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves.

In addition, the hero should not offend the moral sensibilities of the spectators, and as a character he must be true to type, true to life, and consistent.

The hero's error or frailty harmartia is often misleadingly explained as his "tragic flaw," in the sense of that personal quality which inevitably causes his downfall or subjects him to retribution. However, overemphasis on a search for the decisive flaw in the protagonist as the key factor for understanding the tragedy can lead to superficial or false interpretations.

It gives more attention to personality than the dramatists intended and ignores the broader philosophical implications of the typical plot's denouement. It is true that the hero frequently takes a step that initiates the events of the tragedy and, owing to his own ignorance or poor judgment, acts in such a way as to bring about his own downfall.

In a more sophisticated philosophical sense though, the hero's fate, despite its immediate cause in his finite act, comes about because of the nature of the cosmic moral order and the role played by chance or destiny in human affairs. Unless the conclusions of most tragedies are interpreted on this level, the reader is forced to credit the Greeks with the most primitive of moral systems.

It is worth noting that some scholars believe the "flaw" was intended by Aristotle as a necessary corollary of his requirement that the hero should not be a completely admirable man. Harmartia would thus be the factor that delimits the protagonist's imperfection and keeps him on a human plane, making it possible for the audience to sympathize with him.

This view tends to give the "flaw" an ethical definition but relates it only to the spectators' reactions to the hero and does not increase its importance for interpreting the tragedies. The remainder of the Poetics is given over to examination of the other elements of tragedy and to discussion of various techniques, devices, and stylistic principles.

Aristotle mentions two features of the plot, both of which are related to the concept of harmartia, as crucial components of any well-made tragedy. These are "reversal" peripeteiawhere the opposite of what was planned or hoped for by the protagonist takes place, as when Oedipus' investigation of the murder of Laius leads to a catastrophic and unexpected conclusion; and "recognition" anagnorisisthe point when the protagonist recognizes the truth of a situation, discovers another character's identity, or comes to a realization about himself.

This sudden acquisition of knowledge or insight by the hero arouses the desired intense emotional reaction in the spectators, as when Oedipus finds out his true parentage and realizes what crimes he has been responsible for.

Aristotle wrote the Poetics nearly a century after the greatest Greek tragedians had already died, in a period when there had been radical transformations in nearly all aspects of Athenian society and culture.

The tragic drama of his day was not the same as that of the fifth century, and to a certain extent his work must be construed as a historical study of a genre that no longer existed rather than as a description of a living art form.Aristotle contends the cathartic nature of tragedy aids in purgation of emotion, however ultimately limiting it to the powers of tragedy as only creating this, where, contrarily, The Nāṭyaśāstra outlines the power any actor has in creating bhāva, leading to rasa.

In this thesis I will discuss the first two constituents of Greek tragedy, that is, Plot and Characters. Aristotle’s Poetics illustrates a protagonist whose reversal of fortune emerges out of discovery which leads to his sufferings; In Sophocles’ play Oedipus discovers his true identity and pays for his wrong-doings in the past.

In his Poetics, Aristotle outlined the ingredients necessary for a good tragedy, and based his formula on what he considered to be the perfect tragedy, Sophocles's Oedipus the King.

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According to Aristotle, a tragedy must be an imitation of life in the form of a serious story that is complete in. Defines tragedy as an imitation that is serious, complete and with a certain magnitude - Understanding Tragedy by Aristotle Essay introduction.

Aristotle - Wikipedia Even scientific and medical treatises may be written in verses.

The success or failure of the tragedy aspect is dependent on action, and action consists of distinctive qualities through character and thought. HOME Free Essays Tragedy and Revenge in Aristotle and Shakespeare’s Masterpiece.

Tragedy and Revenge in Aristotle and Shakespeare’s Masterpiece Essay. A+. Pages:7 Words We will write a custom essay sample on Tragedy and Revenge in Aristotle and Shakespeare’s Masterpiece specifically for you for only $ $/page.

Aristotle on tragedy: Aristotle's Poetics. Aristotle's answers to Plato's 4 principal arguments against tragedy: (1) Poetry is a skill, with rational rules (like shipbuilding or any other skill), and not really a process of inspiration.

Theses four traits include moral goodness, propriety, realism, and consistency. He also says that a tragedy must invoke catharsis, the purgation of the emotions pity and fear. A good example of an ancient Greek tragedy is the Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. Aristotle contends the cathartic nature of tragedy aids in purgation of emotion, however ultimately limiting it to the powers of tragedy as only creating this, where, contrarily, The Nāṭyaśāstra outlines the power any actor has in creating bhāva, leading to rasa. HOME Free Essays Tragedy and Revenge in Aristotle and Shakespeare’s Masterpiece. Tragedy and Revenge in Aristotle and Shakespeare’s Masterpiece Essay. A+. Pages:7 Words We will write a custom essay sample on Tragedy and Revenge in Aristotle and Shakespeare’s Masterpiece specifically for you for only $ $/page.
Poetics (Aristotle) - Wikipedia