Understanding Tragedy by Aristotle Essay

Defines tragedy as an imitation that is serious, complete and with a certain magnitude. The success or failure of the tragedy aspect is dependent on action, and action consists of distinctive qualities through character and thought. Character is the association of virtues we give to the agent. Thought is fund everywhere, for everything must be justified. Therefore it is relevant for any statement or truth that is proved/evoked. To be classified as tragedy it must have six crucial elements; Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle and Song.

Diction and Thought being the medium of imitation. Spectacle is the manner of imitation. Plot, Character and Thought are the three objects of imitation. These are the elements employed by the poets to man in tragedy. Objects of interest in imitation: Plot is first being the soul to tragedy, second is character and third is thought. Use of diction and the precise portrayal of the scenes is the plot. Thought is the faculty of saying what is possible and applicable in the given situation. Character is the revealing of the virtues and moral purposes, showing man’s limitations and strengths.

The medium of imitation: Diction is the expression of the meaning or thought by communicating in words, it’s essence is equal in either verse or prose. Song is the expression used for all embellishments and enhancement of the meaning or message. Manner of imitation: Spectacle, which is the least connected to but holds a strong emotional attraction of it’s own. The task of constructing and moulding a spectacle and the production effects demands art not so much the poet. Life consists of a series of actions, tragedy reflects this as the imitation of tragedy is a series of actions in life.

For it is by there actions that; characters are valued, thought is provoked and plot is structured. The most powerful elements in tragedy are the Peripeteia (which is the reversal of the situation) and the Recognition scenes. These are the moments which create emotional interest. Part VII Magnitude and Balance The complete and clear structure is crucial to the plot of the tragedies development. It must be whole, consisting of a beginning thus needed to introduce what will precede to occur. A middle is the continuation of something and will also precede another to occur.

The end is the conclusion, nothing will follow this. The importance of magnitude. It is the element of wholeness and beautifying all other element evoked. Organism so small may not be as beautiful because the view is confused, same with too huge for the eye cannot take it in, in all it;s unity. FOr either extremes the sense of whole is lost, balance for magnitude. Magnitude is found in length, in relation to dramatic effect and rich presentment. The correct magnitude is found within limits. Part VIII- Unity and it’s Importance

Contrary to many people’s (including poets) beliefs unity of plot does not consist of the unity of the character. A character’s life is continually varying and can not be contained in unity. The character’s unity is dependent on his own identity, virtues and morality these aspects of his character make him whole. The imitation in tragedy occurs when we imitate an action, but in order for it to be successful this action must first be whole itself. A whole being the unison of structured parts, they must be so tightly compacted that if one were removed it would not no longer be whole.

For an organism who’s presence or absence makes no difference this would not be whole. Part IX- Poetry and History Job of the poet to relate what has yet to occur, this is where the historian and poet differ. Poetry expresses the universal (considering all elements), History expresses the particular (specific, factual). ‘episodic’ is the plot and actions when the acts succeed one another without probable sequence. Good poets stretch the plot exceeding the limits, forcing to break the natural continuity. Part X- Simple Plots and Complex Plots Plots may be either Simple or Complex.

Simple: Continuous action without Reversal of the situation or Recognition. Plot: Action change triggered by Reversal of the Situation or Recognition or both. Part XI- Reversal of the Situation and Recognition. 2 R’s Reversal of the situation is the action turning on itself. Use of opposites. It is always in relation to the probability or necessity. Recognition is the attaining of knowledge to replace the ignorance, creating love or hate. The most effective method of Recognition is when it occurs in accordance to the reversal of the situation.

These are two aspects of the plot-the Reversal of the situation and Recognition. The third aspect is the Suffering Scene; this is the painful or destructive aspect. Part XIII- Aim of the Poet; Ideal Tragedy The aim of the Poet to create the Ideal tragedy: uses Complex Plot, use fear or pity elements, most importantly when referring to the plot and the outcome of the characters fate should refer back to the rules of magnitude which mean using neither extreme but a balance. Part XIV- Where to Place Fear and Pity Fear and Pity.

These are the most distinctive marks of tragic imitation, there are the characteristics most recognised by the public. Tragedy is made alive by the events stimulated and enhanced by fear or pity, this are most effective when unpredicted by the spectator, but may only work if they precede cause. Even coincidences are most striking when they have an air of design. The best method to evoke them is by inner structure from the piece, but it is important to allocate fear and pity specifically not associate it to everything or else it will become common in the performance and loose its ignificance. Actions/events that will stimulate these emotions occurs between characters who are indifferent to another (they can be neither friends nor enemies). The poet must search the subjects on which to impose the quality of the tragedy upon. Part XV- Character there are four main attributes and elements to characters. The first is goodness; Any communication of character which deals with moral purpose must be stimulated. This rule is relative to each characters status. The second is propriety, distinguished by valor.

This should be carefully associated because may be seen as incongruous. Thirdly the character must be true to life, human aspects. The fourth is consistency, order. The portraiture of a character is similar to the structure of the plot; justified by the poet who aims either at the probable or the necessary. These are the rules the poet should structure and observe in order to aim for the ideal tragedy, although there is large room for error this is how the breaking of conventions occurs and the changing of our definition of a theme or subject.