Aristotle's Rules for Tragedy

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  • Topic: Drama, Lizzie Borden, Tragedy
  • Pages : 4 (1551 words )
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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Aristotle's Rules For Tragedy Laid Down In Poetics As They Apply To Blood Relations By Sharon Pollock Aristotle could be considered the first popular literary critic. Unlike Plato, who all but condemned written verse, Aristotle breaks it down and analyses it so as to separate the good from the bad. He studies in great detail what components make a decent epic or tragedy. The main sections he comes up with are form, means and manner. For most drama and verse, Aristotle's rules are a fairly good measure of the quality of a piece of written work. In modern day however (modern meaning within the last century), certain changes in the nature of dramatic writing have started opening a gap between Aristotelian criticism and what is actually being produced on the stage. Changes in values and techniques brought about by Stanislavsky and some leaders of the popular feminist movement have shifted the direction of theatre. In light of these changes some of Aristotle's rules are not applicable anymore. That is not to say that they are not sound. They simply do not apply. Sharon Pollock, one of Canada's great female playwrights and a strong leader of the popular feminist movement, is one example of a writer that breaks Aristotle's mold. Her play "Blood Relations" sits on the edge of what Aristotle would call tragedy. Aristotle states that the form of tragedy is an "imitation of a noble and complete action, having the proper magnitude"(Aristotle 6). Here we have Lizzie Borden murdering her own parents in a fit of rage. The murders happen after years of abuse and negative attitudes from almost everyone she knows. The act of murdering one's parents is far from noble. It could however, be seen as noble seeing as the reason Lizzie kills them is to stand up for her freedom of thought and direction in life. According to the rules laid down in Poetics, pity and fear arise through misfortune and the recognition of the possibility of falling upon similar...
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