Poetic Diction in Shakespearean Tragedies

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Aristotle's Poetics defines the nature of tragic drama, discusses the six essential elements of drama, states his opinion on the best type of tragic plot, and suggests the most effective means to arouse essential emotions such as pity and fear. He presents here the elaborate structure of justice of virtue rewarded and villain punished, broadly speaking the poetic justice.

Now since in the finest kind of tragedy the structure should be complex and not simple, and since it should also be a representation of terrible and piteous events (that being the special mark of this type of imitation), in the first place, it is evident that good men ought not to be shown passing from prosperity to misfortune, for this does not inspire either pity or fear, but only revulsion; nor evil men rising from ill fortune to prosperity, for this is the most untragic plot of all—?it lacks every requirement, in that it neither elicits human sympathy nor stirs pity or fear. And again, neither should an extremely wicked man be seen falling from prosperity into misfortune, for a plot so constructed might indeed call forth human sympathy, but would not excite pity or fear, since the first is felt for a person whose misfortune is undeserved and the second for someone like ourselves—?pity for the man suffering undeservedly, fear for the man like ourselves—?and hence neither pity nor fear would be aroused in this case. We are left with the man whose place is between these extremes. Such is the man who on the one hand is not pre-eminent in virtue and justice, and yet on the other hand does not fall into misfortune through vice or depravity, but falls because of some mistake.

By poetic justice means that the virtuous should be rewarded and the evil doer will be punished. It means that prosperity and adversity are distributed in proportion to the merits of the agents. Judging as such there is no poetic justice in Shakespeare’?s tragedies. Prosperity and adversity are not properly...
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