The five things that defines a tragedy according to aristotle

According to Aristotle, the central character of a tragedy must not be so virtuous that we are outraged, instead of feeling pity or fear at his or her downfall. Also the character cannot be so evil that for the sake of justice we desire his or her misfortune. Instead, best is someone "who is neither outstanding in virtue and righteousness; nor is it through badness or villainy of his own that he falls into misfortune, but rather through some flaw [hamartia]". The character should be famous or prosperous, like Oedipus or Medea.

The five things that defines a tragedy according to aristotle

References and Further Reading 1. Poetry as Imitation The first scandal in the Poetics is the initial marking out of dramatic poetry as a form of imitation. We call the poet a creator, and are offended at the suggestion that he might be merely some sort of recording device.

But Aristotle has no intention to diminish the poet, and in fact says the same thing I just said, in making the point that poetry is more philosophic than history.

From Vates to Techne

By imitation, Aristotle does not mean the sort of mimicry by which Aristophanes, say, finds syllables that approximate the sound of frogs.

He is speaking of the imitation of action, and by action he does not mean mere happenings. Aristotle speaks extensively of praxis in the Nicomachean Ethics. It is not a word he uses loosely, and in fact his use of it in the definition of tragedy recalls the discussion in the Ethics.

Action, as Aristotle uses the word, refers only to what is deliberately chosen, and capable of finding completion in the achievement of some purpose.

Animals and young children do not act in this sense, and action is not the whole of the life of any of us. The poet must have an eye for the emergence of action in human life, and a sense for the actions that are worth paying attention to.

They are not present in the world in such a way that a video camera could detect them. An intelligent, feeling, shaping human soul must find them. By the same token, the action of the drama itself is not on the stage.

As the play opens, the watchman is looking for

It takes form and has its being in the imagination of the spectator. The actors speak and move and gesture, but it is the poet who speaks through them, from imagination to imagination, to present to us the thing that he has made.

Because that thing he makes has the form of an action, it has to be seen and held together just as actively and attentively by us as by him. The imitation is the thing that is re-produced, in us and for us, by his art.

This is a powerful kind of human communication, and the thing imitated is what defines the human realm. If no one had the power to imitate action, life might just wash over us without leaving any trace.

How do I know that Aristotle intends the imitation of action to be understood in this way? There is the perception of proper sensibles-colors, sounds, tastes and so on; these lie on the surfaces of things and can be mimicked directly for sense perception.

But there is also perception of common sensibles, available to more than one of our senses, as shape is grasped by both sight and touch, or number by all five senses; these are distinguished by imagination, the power in us that is shared by the five senses, and in which the circular shape, for instance, is not dependent on sight or touch alone.Without action there cannot be a tragedy; there may be one without character The plot, then, is the first principle, and, as it were, the soul of a tragedy: character holds the second place.

Aristotle goes on to discuss the structure of the ideal tragic plot and spends several chapters on its requirements.

The five things that defines a tragedy according to aristotle

In the Poetics, Aristotle's famous study of Greek dramatic art, Aristotle ( B.C.) compares tragedy to such other metrical forms as comedy and determines that tragedy, like all poetry, is a kind of imitation (mimesis), but adds that it has a serious purpose and uses direct action rather than narrative to achieve its says that poetic mimesis is imitation of things as they.

Five years later, Gnaeus Naevius also began to write tragedies According to Aristotle, "the structure of the best tragedy should not be simple but complex and one that represents incidents arousing fear and pity—for that is peculiar to this form of art.".

Aristotle defines tragedy according to seven characteristics: (1) it is mimetic, (2) it is serious, (3) it tells a full story of an appropriate length, (4) it contains rhythm and harmony, (5) rhythm and harmony occur in different combinations in different parts of the tragedy, (6) .

The table of contents page of the Poetics found in Modern Library's Basic Works of Aristotle () identifies five basic parts within it.

[13] A. Preliminary discourse on tragedy, epic poetry, and comedy, as the chief forms of imitative Aristotle. Aristotle defines the imagination as "the movement which results upon an actual sensation." In other words, it is the process by which an impression of the senses is pictured and retained before the mind, and is accordingly the basis of memory.

Aristotle: Poetics