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Poetics: Aristotle's views on the plot of tragedy and its relative importance

Poetics: Aristotle's views on the plot of tragedy and its relative importance

Poetics: Aristotle's views on the plot of tragedy and its relative importance

Q. What are Aristotle’s views on the Plot of Tragedy in Poetics ? How does he explain the relative importance of Plot and Character?

Answer: Aristotle's views on the plot of tragedy and its relative importance in his work "Poetics" are central to his theory of dramatic literature. In "Poetics," Aristotle outlines several key elements of tragedy, and the concept of "plot" (or "mythos" in Greek) is one of the most significant components.

Aristotle believed that the plot was the most important element of a tragedy, and he considered it to be the soul of the dramatic work. Here are some key aspects of Aristotle's views on the plot of tragedy:

1. Unity and Completeness: Aristotle argued that a well-constructed plot should have unity and completeness. Unity means that the events of the plot should be connected and related to each other in a meaningful way, with no superfluous elements or digressions. Completeness means that the plot should have a beginning, middle, and end, leading to a catharsis or emotional purification in the audience.

2. Organic Development: Aristotle emphasized the importance of the plot's organic development, where each event follows logically from the previous one. He introduced the concept of "cause and effect," meaning that the events should be connected in a way that makes sense to the audience.

3. Change and Reversal: Aristotle believed that the plot should involve a change or reversal of fortune (peripeteia) for the protagonist. This change should be a result of the protagonist's actions and decisions, leading to a moment of recognition (anagnorisis) where the character realizes the consequences of their actions.

4. Complexity and Recognition: Aristotle advocated for a complex plot that includes unexpected twists and turns. He believed that recognition (anagnorisis) should be a crucial element in the plot, where characters and the audience gain insight into the true nature of a situation.

5. Catharsis: Aristotle believed that the ultimate purpose of tragedy was to arouse emotions of pity and fear in the audience and then purify or cleanse these emotions through catharsis. A well-structured plot should achieve this emotional effect.

In terms of the relative importance of plot and character, Aristotle did recognize the significance of character development, but he believed that character should be subordinate to plot. He argued that the actions and choices of characters should flow naturally from the plot and serve the overall narrative structure. In other words, characters should be vehicles for the plot, and their qualities and actions should be consistent with the story being told. Aristotle thought that it was through the events of the plot that the audience would come to understand the characters and their motivations.

In short, Aristotle's views on the plot of tragedy in "Poetics" emphasize the plot's unity, completeness, organic development, and its ability to evoke emotions and achieve catharsis in the audience. While he recognized the importance of character, he believed that character should serve the needs of the plot and its overall structure.


Read also:

👉 Concept of the Impersonal theory of poetry | T. S. Eliot 

👉 Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings | William Wordsworth 

👉 Received Pronunciation (RP) | Distinctive features, criteria and major problems  

👉 Speech mechanism | the functions of the various organs of speech  

👉 Development of the English language | from the Anglo-Saxon to the Modern period  

👉 Anglo-Saxon Christian Poetry | or Religious Poetry  

👉 Anglo-Saxon Elegy |or Old English Lyric Poetry 

👉 Middle English Allegorical Poetry | 

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