Let’s see about Aristotles’s “The Poetics” The poetics is a short treatise of twenty-six chapters. Aristotle was the great disciple of Plato but his views are some what different than his master regarding poetry and ‘the poetics’ is a kind of covert reply to his great master. ‘The Poetics’ is a systematic exposition of the theory and practice of poetry.
Differences between Aristotle and Plato Plato considered imitation merely as mimicry or a servile copy of nature. Plato compared poetry to painting. Aristotle interpreted it as a creative process. Aristotle compared it to music.
Differences between Aristotle and Plato Poetry presents a copy of nature as it is. Poetry is twice removed from reality and it’s a ‘shadow of shadows’. Plato takes up the cudgel on behalf of philosophy and shows that philosophy is superior than poetry. Poetry may imitate men as they are, or better and worse. Poetry gives us idealized version of reality. He takes up the cudgels on behalf of poetry and effectively brings out its superiority.
Definition of Tragedy “Tragedy is an imitation of an action, Serious, complete and of a certain magnitude in a language beautified in different parts with different kinds of embellishment, through action and not narration, and through scenes of pity and fear bringing about the ‘Catharsis’ of these emotions”
How can we differentiate the tragedy from other poetic forms?
Objects, Manner, and Medium of Imitation in Tragedy
Unity of Action:(Probability and Necessity) Aristotle emphasizes Unity of Action ; he is against plurality of action as it weakens the final effect of Tragedy.
Imitation of an action, serious, complete and of a certain magnitude……. It must be long enough to permit an orderly development of action to a catastrophe. Too short an action cannot be regarded as proper and beautiful, for its different parts will not be clearly visible, as in the case of a very small living creature. It must be an ‘organic’ whole.
And another important word is embellishment:- Aristotle means verse and song. Verse and song beautify and decorate and give pleasure, but Aristotle does not regard them as essential or indispensable for the success of a tragedy.
About Catharsis:- #In the Poetics, while defining tragedy, Aristotle writes that the function of tragedy is to arouse the emotions of pity and fear, and in this way to affect the Katharsis of these emotion. #Further the Greek word Katharsis has three meanings:- Purgation purification clarification All agree that Tragedy arouses fear and pity, but there are sharp differences as to the process, the way, by which the rousing of these emotions gives pleasure.
Having examined the definition, nature and function of ‘Tragedy, Aristotle comes to its formative parts. Six formative elements of a tragedy Song Plot Spectacle Character Diction Thought
Two kinds of Plots: simple and complex Simple: Plot is simple when the change in the fortunes of the hero takes place without peripety and discovery. Complex: The plot is complex when it involves one or the other or both. The Peripety is the change in the fortunes of the hero and the Discovery is a change from ignorance to knowledge. Aristotle prefers complex plot, for it startles and captures attention.
Complex plots are those which have Peripety and Anagnorisis or Discovery or Recognition Peripeteia : Peripeteia means that human actions produce results exactly opposite to what was intended: it is working in blindness to one’s own defeat. It is a false step taken in the dark.(e.g., Macbeth) Anagnorisis: Anagnorisis or recognition is the realization of truth, the opening of the eyes, the sudden lightning-flash in the darkness.
Characterization:- “A man who is not eminently good and just yet whose misfortune is not brought by vice or depravity but by some error of frailty”.
The Ideal Tragic Hero:- Suffering, not because of some deliberate villainy but because of some error of judgment.
“Hamartia” Ignorance Hasty or careless view Decision taken voluntarily Othello Oedipus Hamlet It may be accompanied by normal imperfection, but it is not itself a moral imperfection, and in the purest tragic situation the suffering hero is not morally to blame.
The Dramatic Unities Unity of Time #Comparing the Epic and the Tragedy:- “Tragedy tries as far as possible, to live within a single revolution of the sun, or only slightly to exceed it, whereas the epic observes no limits in its time of action”. About the Unity of Time he merely says in the Poetics that tragedy should confine itself, “as far as possible”, to a single revolution of the sun.
Unity of Place Aristotle only mention when comparing the epic and the tragedy, that the epic can narrate a number of actions going on simultaneously in different parts, while in drama such simultaneous actions cannot be represented, for the stage is one part and not several parts, or places.
Unity of Action We have already discussed about the unity of action so there is no need to repeat it but I would like to say that just don’t think only but put your thoughts into action – not said by Aristotle but it’s a thought of the day.
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