Aristotle's theory of tragedy
English Literature

Write short note on: Aristole’s theory on Tragedy MEG 05

Answer: Write short note on: Aristole’s theory on Tragedy:

In his epoch-making work poetics, Aristotle sheds enough insight on tragedy to be considered authoritative. He has placed more importance in tragedy, which requires particular consideration. He was a huge fan of the Greek tragedians Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschelus, among others. This group championed the art of theatre, raising tragedy to a high pedestal in the process, which assisted Aristotle in framing his theory of classical theatre. As defined by Aristotle, tragedy is “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of certain magnitude, in a language that is beautified in different parts with different kinds of embellishment,” through actions rather than narration, and through feelings of pity and fear that result in catharsis of these emotions.” In his definition of tragedy, Aristotle places more stress on the essence of tragedy as well as its purpose or function. There is a fundamental distinction between humour and tragedy in that whereas the former deals with individuals achieving heroic status, comedy is restricted to the minor elements of human nature, portraying people who are worse than they really are in real life. Another distinction between tragedy and comedy is that tragedy needs serious action, while comedy has a great deal of grotesque activity. Tragedy is also more serious than comedy. Aristotle does not intend to propose that items be recreated or recreated in a creative manner; rather, he wants to suggest that objects be recreated or recreated in a creative manner.

As a result, Aristotle places more emphasis on the narrative or action in tragedies, while placing the character in the background. The action of a tragedy must be comprehensive, and it must consist of a logical succession of events. An introduction, middle section, and conclusion are required. The beginning is something which does not come after anything, but which occurs after the occurrence of anything else that does exist. What Aristotle is trying to convey is that a play should have a compelling rationale for starting and finishing in the places that they do. The commencement of an activity might be compared to a brief period of slack water before the tide turns. Even if the ghost had not arrived at the start of Hamlet, events in Denmark would have settled into a period of repose by the end of the play. In the same way, the middle is defined as something which comes after something else and leads to another item. The term “end” refers to anything that follows after something else but does not have anything else after it. Denmark, and especially the court, will be threatened by a ghostly apparition, which will serve to lay the ground for a quake that will sweep across the whole nation under its jurisdiction.

Write short note on: Aristole’s theory on Tragedy

Aristotle has emphasised six aspects of tragedy, which are narrative, character, idea, and setting (as opposed to comedy). There are three types of entertainment: diction, spectacle, and song, with the first two occupying a prominent role. The first three components are internal elements, while the final three elements are exterior elements in the set of six elements. According to Aristotle, narrative has a significant advantage over character in a variety of ways. It is the plot that is the centre of attention around which the whole fortress of tragedy is built. Even one’s own character is subordinate to it. Tragedy is the imitation of an action and a life, rather than the imitation of persons. It is the actions of men that determine whether they are happy or miserable. Tragic events cannot occur in the absence of action, but a tragic event may occur in the absence of character. As a result, the narrative seems to be the heart of the tragedy, while the characters are relegated to a secondary role. In order for the narrative to work, it must have a single core subject, in which all of the components are intertwined to show the character’s change in fortune. The most significant distinction between Greek tragedy and contemporary tragedy is the latter’s continuous focus on narrative at the cost of character development in the former. A tragic hero is neither a criminal nor a particularly good person, and he is driven from pleasure to sorrow by his own weakness or by a lapse in judgement, among other things. The audience is moved to tears and terror by his performance, which subsequently overreaches them of these impurities…. As a result, a tragic hero ought to be a complex combination of virtue and human weakness, and vice versa. His tragedy must be the result of a lapse in judgement, and he must plummet from a lofty height of glory by making severe errors, and his acts must evoke the tragic feelings of sympathy and dread in others who see his plight and anxiety.

Tragedy is defined as the “impersonation of an action” (mimesis) that occurs as a result of “the rule of probability or necessity.” According to Aristotle, tragedy is communicated via drama rather than narrative; tragedy “shows” rather than “tells” the story. Accord to Aristotle, tragedy is a better and more intellectual kind of storytelling than history since history just recounts what has occurred, while tragedy dramatises what may occur. As a result, history is concerned with the specific, while tragedy is concerned with the universal. Events that have occurred may have occurred as a result of chance or coincidence; they may have occurred as a result of a unique circumstance.

As a result, they are of little interest to anybody else. Unlike other forms of entertainment, tragedy has its roots in the basic order of the universe; it produces an unbroken sequence of events that plainly exposes what might happen at any time or location since that is how the world works. As a result, tragedy elicits not just sympathy but also terror from the audience, who may see themselves caught up in the same place as the characters. As a result, they are of little interest to anybody else. Unlike other forms of entertainment, tragedy has its roots in the basic order of the universe; it produces an unbroken sequence of events that plainly exposes what might happen at any time or location since that is how the world works.

The “first principle” of tragedy is the plot, which is the most essential aspect of the story. Aristotle defines plot as “the organisation of the events”: that is, not the narrative itself, but the manner in which the incidents are given to the audience, or the structure of the play, in which the incidents are presented to the audience. According to Aristotle, tragedies in which the result is determined by a well crafted series of events are better than tragedies in which the outcome is determined mainly by the character and personality of the hero. Plots that fulfil this criteria will exhibit the characteristics listed below:

In order for the plot to be considered complete, it must have a beginning, middle, and finish. Modern critics refer to the opening of a play as the incentive moment because it must initiate the series of events without being reliant on anything beyond the scope of the play. The middle, or climax, of the story must be triggered by previous events and must itself trigger the events that occur after it.  Because the end, or resolution, must be brought about by the preceding events but must not result in other incidents that are not within the scope of the play, the end must solve or resolve the problem that was created during the incentive period.

  • The plot must be “comprehensive,” with “unity of action” throughout. To put it another way, Aristotle is saying that the narrative must be structurally self-contained, with the events being linked together by internal necessity, and each action leading inexorably to the next without any external interference. The worst plots, according to Aristotle, are those in which “The actions that take place one after the other without regard to any probable or desirable pattern.” The only thing that binds the events in such a plot together is that they all happen to the same individual. Whenever possible, playwrights should avoid include coincidental occurrences in their storylines; if a coincidence is necessary, it should “have an air of design,” that is, it should seem to have a predetermined relation to the events of the play. Additionally, the poet should eliminate or at the very least keep the irrational “beyond the realm of the tragedy,” that is, reported rather than portrayed, from his or her work. In order to achieve unity of action in his plot, he must “display innovation of his own and effectively manage the traditional materials,” despite the fact that he cannot alter the myths that serve as the foundation for his stories.
  •  The plot must be “of a particular size,” both numerically (in terms of length and complexity) and qualitatively (in terms of “seriousness” and “universal importance,” among other things. According to Aristotle, storylines should not be too short; the larger the number of events and ideas that the writer is able to weave together in an organic unity, the greater the aesthetic worth and depth of the performance. Furthermore, the greater the universality and significance of the play’s meaning, the greater the ability of the writer to capture and retain the emotions of the audience, and the better the play will be. 3. The storyline may be either basic or complicated; nevertheless, complex is preferable than simple. Simple storylines consist only of a “change of fortune” (catastrophe). In complex plots, there is a “reversal of intention” (peripeteia) as well as a “recognition” (anagnorisis) that is linked to the disaster. Surprise has the ability to convert both peripeteia and anagnorisis. Peripeteia is defined as an event that occurs when an individual produces an effect that is diametrically opposed to that which he intended to produce, while an anagnorisis is defined as “a transition from ignorance to knowledge, resulting in feelings of love or hatred between the people who are destined for good fortune or bad fortune.” In his opinion, some of the most effective plots integrate these two elements as part of their overall results from the event (i.e., the peripeteia immediately leads to the realization), which in turn leads to the disaster, which in turn leads to the ultimate “scene of agony.”

Character comes in second on the list of priorities. When it comes to a perfect tragedy, the character will relate with the plot, which means that human motives will be intimately linked elements of the result of events that instil feelings of sorrow and dread in the audience. The protagonist must be well and wealthy, so that his fortunes may shift from good to terrible throughout the story. This transformation “should occur as a consequence of some major mistake or weakness in a person’s character, rather than as a result of vice.” When such a storyline is presented, the audience is most likely to feel both sympathy for and dread for the characters, since “pity is aroused by unmerited misery, and terror by the misfortune of a man like ourselves.” The word Aristotle used here, hamartia, which is generally translated as “tragic defect,” has been the topic of considerable discussion and disagreement. Rather than being synonymous with “flaw,” the Greek term has a connotation that is more closely related to “error.” I think it is best understood in the light of what Aristotle has to say about plot and “the law of probability or necessity.” According to Aristotle, the protagonist in the perfect tragedy would unwittingly bring about his own downfall—not because he is wicked or morally weak, but rather because he does not know enough about the situation. The hamartia’s significance in tragedy is not derived from its moral standing, but rather from the certainty of its repercussions. Because of these two factors, the peripeteia is really a series of self-destructive actions carried out while blind, which result in outcomes diametrically opposed to those intended (a phenomenon known as tragic irony), and the anagnorisis is defined as the acquisition of essential knowledge that was previously lacking.

The third most important factor is thought, which may be discovered “where anything is shown to be or not to be, or where a general maxim is enunciated.” Aristotle says very little about thinking, and the most of what he has to say is concerned with how speeches should reflect a person’s character and personality traits. However, it is reasonable to suppose that this group would also contain what we refer to as the themes of a performance.

The fourth element is diction, which is defined as “the expression of meaning in words” that are suitable and suited to the narrative, the characters, and the conclusion of the tragedy. Among the artistic aspects of tragedy, Aristotle is especially concerned in metaphors, which he describes as follows: “But the greatest thing by far is to have a mastery of metaphor, it is the mark of genius, because to create excellent metaphors requires an eye for resemblances.

The fifth element is the song, or melody, which serves as the musical component of the chorus. Choral odes, according to Aristotle, should be completely incorporated into the play, similar to how an actor would be; choral odes should not be “mere interludes,” but should instead add to the overall coherence of the narrative.

In order of importance, spectacle is the last since it is the least associated with literature. In spite of the fact that Aristotle acknowledges the emotional appeal of spectacle, he contend, the superior poets rely on internal structural elements of the play rather than spectacle to incite pity and fear.

IGNOU MA English IGNOU MEG Solved Assignment English Literature

Pity and terror are purified and cleansed towards the conclusion of the tragedy via katharsis. Katharsis is another another Aristotelian word that has sparked a great deal of discussion and controversy. To purge is to reduce anything to a healthy, balanced proportion. Aristotle seems to be using a medical metaphor here, since tragedy elicits the feelings of pity and terror in order to cleanse them of their excess, and so to reduce these passions to a healthy, balanced proportion. As well as the “pleasure” that is appropriate to tragedy, Aristotle speaks of the “aesthetic pleasure” that one receives from pondering the sorrow and terror that are arouses via a carefully crafted work of art, according to what seems to be his meaning.

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