Aristotle's Theory of Poetics

Good Essays
Aristotle’s Theory of Poetics Research Assignment

Aristotle bases his theory of poetics on greek tragedy. He defines tragedy as "the imitation of an action that is serious and also as having magnitude, complete in itself." (Melani, 2009)
He views that, "Tragedy is a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. Its action should be single and complete, presenting a reversal of fortune, involving persons renowned and of superior attainments,and it should be written in poetry embellished with every kind of artistic expression." ." (Melani, 2009) Usually the writer would present the emotions of pity and fear within tragedy which interprets catharsis. Aristotle viewed the term catharsis as the "purging" of emotions such as pity or fear which are triggered with tragic action within greek plays
Aristotle draws a difference between tragedy and other genres, as the audience watches the tragedy, they feel a "tragic pleasure of pity and fear". In order for the tragic hero to arouse these feelings in the audience, he cannot be either all good or all evil but must be someone the audience can identify with; however, if he is superior, the tragic pleasure is intensified. His disastrous end results from a mistaken action, which in turn arises from a tragic flaw or from a tragic error in judgment. "Often the tragic flaw is known as hubris, pride that causes the hero to ignore a warning. It has been suggested that because the tragic hero 's suffering is greater than his offense, the audience feels pity; because the audience members perceive that they could behave similarly, they feel pity. An example of this is evident within the tragedy Oedipus Rex." (Melani, 2009)

Catharsis
Aristotle argues that the best tragedies and some of the best plays, since Aristotle considers tragedy to be the highest dramatic form, when the use of reversal and recognition to achieve catharsis is present during a tragedy or a play, he finds that with this aspect in perspective they are



Cited: · "Aristotle 's Poetics Study Guide." . 4Shared, n.d. Web. 6 Sep 2012. . · "Aristotle 's Poetics Themes." GradeSaver . N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Sep 2012. . · Melani, Lilia . "Tragedy." . N.p., 13 March 2009. Web. 5 Sep 2012. . · Zuern, John . "Aristotle Poetics." CriticaLink. University of Hawai`i, 1999. Web. 6 Sep 2012. .

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Aristotle was not only a scientific genius, but someone who carved the path for the way we depict plays and furthermore, how we write them. Aristotle made it a mission to read the plays of his era, while doing so he discovered many similarities among them, creating a tragedy. A tragedy is a form of drama that is composed of three basic parts: values, characters, and a conclusion. A value is what will determine the fate of the tragic character in the play, usually the value is represented by a supernatural power. While the character has to display certain characteristics like nobility either by birth or action, it is most noted for the characters downfall. The downfall occurs either by limitation of knowledge or by a tragic flaw within…

    • 1043 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Aristotelian defined tragedy as "the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself." It incorporates "incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish the catharsis of such emotions."…

    • 3265 Words
    • 14 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Aristotle's Poetics: Comedy and Epic and Tragedy comments on the reflection of reality by it's very imitation. As with comedy being an imitation of the inferior and ugly, the role of the epic and tragedy follow the roles of characters of great importance. The idea being that only those of importance are even noticeable in the eyes of the gods, since mankind is relatively insignificant and are nothing more than an amusement to the gods.…

    • 776 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Aristotle, found that Oedipus the King was not only an influential myth but also as a source of what defines true tragedy. He believed that you can not have a good or wicked man falling into misfortune or an evil man rising to fortune because none of those will inspire the feelings of pity of fear, which will help the reader or watcher of the play to reach his/her catharsis experience, which is a calling forth and purging of emotions. Aristotle believes that the best type of tragedy occurs when a person whom is an average (or one who posses good and bad qualities) citizen undergoes a change in fortune. This is best portrayed when a respected individual with an excellent reputation goes through disaster that results in severe misfortune.…

    • 556 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    “Tragedy is an imitation not of men but of a life, an action…” (Aristotle). Greek Tragedy was invented five hundred years Before Common Era, and focuses on the actions of characters. These actions emphasize the harsh reality in which the innocent mankind lives in. In Oedipus the King, Oedipus is defined as one with great potential, but has a hamartia leading to the ultimate demise of himself. Oedipus’ actions are tragic, as he tries to make the right choice but fails. He was dealt a hand that would only lead him to lose. Furthermore, Sophocles develops Oedipus as a relatable character which allows for catharsis to occur. Aristotle’s, The Poetics, explains the necessary components to create a powerful Tragedy. Oedipus the King is a powerful representation of Aristotle’s ideas on tragedy, so the purpose, protagonist, fall, and plot elements in Oedipus the King demonstrate the concepts of tragedy written in The Poetics.…

    • 1201 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Aristotle provided us with a Greek theory of what is tragedy; he defines it as “a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. It is the imitation of an action that is serious and also having with it a magnitude complete in itself. On the other hand the English, Elizabethan, Shakespearian culture had a total different perspective from the Greek. Instead of reporting violence on stage like the Greek, the English would act out the violence in the play. They stated that in tragedy the action should be in one whole and take place in one day and in one place. Tragedy was mixed with other genres such as romance and comedy, emphasis is placed on action, spectacle and increasingly sensation.…

    • 1991 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    MWD Odeipus rex

    • 2482 Words
    • 7 Pages

    Tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious and also having magnitude complete in itself. The genre excites the emotions of pity and fear. Catharsis is also seen in this genre. Tragedy touches the “pity and fear” within its audience compared to other emotions drawn in other genres. Hubris, or the tragic flaw, is often seen in this genre too.…

    • 2482 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    In the light of Aristotle’s Poetics, we see the philosopher’s fundamentals regarding Greek drama, a structure or foundation that every tragedy needs for maximum expression and catharsis. It needs Plot, Character, Thought, Diction, Song and Spectacle – arranged in order of importance – so that it can be considered a Greek drama. In Plot, Aristotle explains how the drama is in the form of a tragedy, is efficiently maximized through the use of certain rules or laws called the Three Unities.…

    • 563 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Macbeth Tragic Flaw essay

    • 1489 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Shakespeare’s perception, and our modern view, of tragedy are founded in Aristotle’s theories on the subject. Aristotelian tragedy, as described in Poetics, has shaped every form of dramatic art, from Ancient Greek theatre to big-budget, Hollywood blockbusters.…

    • 1489 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Aristotle defines a tragic hero as someone, usually a male, who “falls from a high place mainly due to their fatal flaw.” During the highest point of the tragic hero’s life, something is revealed to the protagonist causing a reversal in their fortune. This reversal of fortune is caused by the flaw in their character. Tragedy evokes catharsis, a feeling of pity for the protagonist in the audience. While both the characters of Lear and Antigone possess some tragic features required to be a tragic hero, only one proves to be the true tragic hero.…

    • 1628 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Aristotle 's Rules For Tragedy Laid Down In Poetics As They Apply To Blood Relations By Sharon Pollock…

    • 1551 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Macbeth Is Not a Tragedy

    • 1319 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Firstly, Aristotle started that there should be six components which should be fulfilled in order to create a “tragedy”. The plot is the most important component of an Aristotelian tragedy, how the incidents are arranged. The second component, and perhaps the only one which is arguable, is the character, who must be renowned and prosperous, so his change of fortune can be from good to bad. This change should be caused by a great error in character, for example the Shakespearean character’s “fatal flaw”. Such change in fortune should be used to create pity and fear in the audience. The pity should be aroused by undeserved misfortune and fear created by the misfortune of a common person like ourselves. However, the character of Macbeth doesn’t evoke pity nor fear as…

    • 1319 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    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.…

    • 408 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Brutus Tragic Hero

    • 936 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Aristotle is a Greek philosopher who made significant contributions to many different aspects of literature. In Aristotle’s philosophical treatise, Poetics, a tragedy is depicted as the downfall of a tragic hero, which is conveyed through the unification of hubris, free choice, and an error of judgement. Aristotle defines a tragic hero as a person of noble prestige and greatness. Although the tragic hero is notably great, he or she is not perfect because they possess a tragic flaw. The hero’s intention to accomplish a goal inevitably leads him to confronts multiple challenges or limits. Aristotle acknowledges that the tragic hero must have a tragic flaw, or hamartia…

    • 936 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Oedipus Tragic Hero

    • 600 Words
    • 3 Pages

    The foundations of Greek tragedy were laid down by the philosopher Aristotle in his famous "Poetics" which discussed the characteristics of a tragic hero. In this composition of philosophy and literary theories, Aristotle's ideas revolve around three crucial effects to audience members. First, the audience must develop an emotional attachment to the tragic hero. Next, the audience must fear what may befall the hero. Finally, once misfortune strikes, the audience pities the suffering hero. Clearly, for Aristotle's theory to succeed, the tragic hero must be a complex and well-constructed character, as is seen in Sophocles' Oedipus the King. Like any tragic hero, Oedipus elicits the three needed responses from the audience far better than most.…

    • 600 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays