The treatise we call the Poetics, which was composed by Aristotle at least 50 years after the death of Sophocles, was a great admirer of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, considering it the perfect tragedy, and not surprisingly, his analysis fits that play most perfectly. I shall therefore use this play to illustrate the following major parts of Aristotle's analysis of tragedy as a literary genre.
“A tragedy, then, is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in language with pleasurable acces¬sories, each kind brought in separately in the parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with in¬cidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions.” (Imgram Bywater: 35).
“Every Tragedy, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality—namely, Plot, Characters, Diction, Thought, Spectacle and Melody.”
Aristotle's ideas about tragedy were recorded in his book of literary theory titled Poetics. In it, he has a great deal to say about the structure, purpose, and intended effect of tragedy. His ideas have been adopted, disputed, expanded, and discussed for several centuries now.
The following is a summary of his basic ideas regarding the tragic hero:
1. The tragic hero is a character of noble stature and has greatness. This should be readily evident in the play. The character must occupy a "high" status position but must also embody nobility... [continues]
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