Classical Criticism Presentation -Prepared by- D. Paragkumar Dave- M.A. ( Eng.) [email_address] Blog:- firstname.lastname@example.org
: Acknowledgements: I am heartily thankful to all those who have rendered me hand in creation of the present Slides. And of course, I am, always owed to ICT, which has made it feasible to erect our new perspective in pedagogy. This is an example of Renovated Self-Study Tech, with which I have empirically optimized ICT. I hope this will be valuable to all literary students, esp. Open Univ. Students (O.U.S.) who are pursuing their Higher-Degree in an Open Univ. Hithereto, we have been taught to learn but now, as you all are aware, the principal aim of our higher (University) Study is to expand the frontiers of one’s own thinking ,comprehension power . I thank all those great authors/professors who have created immortal works to enrich the English Literary Criticism. June, 26, 2011 D.Paragkumar Dave Place:- Surat-city M.A. English
According to the Longman’s Contemporary Dict- “Classical as being in accordance with ancient Greek or Roman models in literature or art or with later systems & standard based on them.
The 8 th to 4 th B.C.- for it’s brilliance in literature, philosophy and the visual arts, is normally known as the classical age”.
According to my own opinion ‘ Classical is the inner core, unique and pioneer force with blending of ideas and inspirations, known-unknown, which we have inherited through our ancestors. Thereafter modified and peronalised accordance to our milieu and convenience. In this regard the first invented computer can be regarded as a Classical Piece or antique .
‘ Classics’ are the work of fiction, like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy- that are relevant to all ages, through all times and for their universal appeal, regularity of form and a sense of beauty and balance .
Nowadays, we consider old movie’s songs as the Classical –Golden Melodies- . Songs by Raffic, Lata, Kishor are classical songs.
They are sung and enjoyed for ever- that is classics.
What is Classicism? It means those qualities which are most characteristic of the best literature of Greece & Rome. It is in partly identical with Idealism. It aims to express the inner truth or central principles of things, without anxiety for minor details, and it is by nature largely intellectual in quality, though not by any means to the exclusion of emotion. In outward form, therefore, it insists on correct structure, restraint, careful finish and avoidance of all excess. Paradise-Lost, Arnold’s ‘Sohrab and Rustam, Addison’s essays are modern example of classicism spirit.
(A History of Eng. Lit., Robert Huntington Flethcer)
Aristotle and Plato were the great masters of the classical criticism.
Aristotle regarded ‘Mimesis’ as a natural healthy impulse. For him Art initiated Nature. This would imply that the arts, like ‘Nature’ work towards the unfolding of inherent potential. Aristotle did not consider ‘Mimesis’ to be mere copying.
Whereas Plato believed poetry to be cut off from the Universal; it being removed from the truth.
Thucydide –a greek Historian said;’’ Poetry is concerned with universal truths, history traits of particular facts.
Classical Criticism is fairly objective, it is an ‘attempt at expressing infinite ideas and feelings in a finite form, whereas romanticism is an attempt to express a kind of universal poetry in the creation of which the poet made his own laws.
Romanticism is a response to classicism in Romanticism, the individual or the subject is more important.
The quarrel between poetry & Philosophy was a continuing one. The philosophers used language to investigate into the nature of things, while the poet, the orator and the rhetorician were aiming at creating an effect on the audience for establishing emotional truth. Literary criticism hovered in between favouring the poets sometimes and the philosophers at other.
What is Myth- The word Myth is derived from the Greek Word Mythos- which simply means ‘Story. Myth is the core of all Greek poetry, drama, narrative, prose and lyric. In all culture Myths are narratives that have been preserved in racial memories through ritual enactments on religious days or representations in sculpture, poetry, temple walls, special seals, shields, vases, holy objects and all other kinds of artifacts including toys. In poetry, plays, music they found the most explicit statements. Example:- We have a number of symbols for our Village, City, State, Nation- Ashok-Stambh, why? Because there is a myth behind it. Every belief has some unknown ground of Myth.
Cont.- Plato advocated that there was no room for the teaching of poetry and drama as these were neither healthy for the creation of a strong moral character need in an administrator nor did they provide knowledge of the world.
Most poetry of the contemporary Greek was unsuitable as it showed Gods and Heroes with moral infirmities and something even savagery.
Plato advocated for the need of heroism and courageous spirited poetry.
For Plato, the very purpose of art, was disruptive to the unswerving concentration of a guardian or a citizen of his Utopia.
For Plato, art was an unfaithful representation of reality. The artist was not only imitating imperfect objects of this world, s/he was also pretending to know things which s/he actually had no understanding.
Platonic view of Mimesis :- ‘Mimesis’ primarily means ‘making’. Plato gave a new metaphysical and epistemological perspective to mimesis, enlarging it’s meaning from ‘Making’ by human hands to ‘making’ by universal force. All production of arts, in a general way, is mimesis.
In Greek- Mithexis – Participation,
Homoiosis – Likeness, Paraplesia-Likeness- which all are close to the meaning of ‘mimesis’-.
The musician imitates divine harmony, the good man imitates the virtues, the wise legislator imitates the Form of God, God imitates the Form in the making of this World.
Theory Of Forms :- For every kind of activity there must be an ideal to be followed, and every ideal or Form must have it’s Super-Form. Plato postulated that there was a primary form, which was the essential nature of every object or even thought. Worldly objects are idols or imitative –images (eidola) of the ideal Forms, and artist, picture or poetic descriptions are images (eidola) of the objects of this World. Thus, all art according to Plato, remains a turning away from the Truth.
The Lower Status of Art :- Phantasma is a false representation, and poets and painters; according to Plato, are adepted at doing this. Hence, Plato gave them a lower status.
Socrates says,” The sixth (class) shall be fittingly given to a poet, or any other imitative artist. They are all seducers from the truth.
To conclude, Plato sees little good in art, and it is doubtful if he would have liked to praise Catharsis. He would have no trust on –who listened to music and were purified of their diseases, with the emotional relief that audience feel after going through an artistic experience.
Plato’s definition of Truth:- Plato postulated that there was no possibility of a category such as ‘artistic-truth’ as apart from the Truth.
There could be only one reality, that was available to the philosopher who saw things beyond the illusion. Plato had rejected the idea that poetry could communicate the truth and also rejected the traditional idea of poetry or art being a gift (phya) from the Muse. It is all mimetic task and artist can never break the mimetic chain. The poet is making a copy of a copy art. But for Plato, as inspiration and phya were suspect, art was more of a deception or at best an emotionally manipulative make belief and hence to be avoided.
As dialogue on Art runs in Book X of the Republic:-
‘ So the artist has neither knowledge nor correct opinion about the goodness or badness of the things he represents.’ Apparently not’. So the poet too as artist will be pretty ignorant about the subjects of his poetry. Completely ignorant. But he will go on writing poetry, inspite of his ignorance of all he writes about and will represent anything that pleases ignorant multitude. What else can he do? Well, I conclude, we seem to be pretty well agreed that the artist knows little or nothing about the subjects he represents and that his art is something that has no serious value; and that this applies to all tragic poetry, epic or dramatic.’’ Yes, entirely agreed,’’. –Republic-602 (Lee).
The form alone is real as it is unchanging. All changing things can be a basis for opinions but not knowledge. Virtue is hence equivalent to knowledge. Lack of virtue is ignorance, knowledge is happiness. Artistic creation and enjoyment cause ignorance according to Plato.
Platonic Idea of Social Well-being :- There is no place for any artist in the Utopian State that Plato envisaged in the Republic or later in his final work- the Law. Just as appetite must be controlled and kept under constant check through resolve, reason and virtue to prepare the soul for knowledge, so should the guardians endowed with superior training and selective breeding control the general population to keep a society productive and law abiding. Plato felt that for young students most epic poetry of Homer and Hesiod was weak in morals as it showed Gods and Heroes in a poor light. Plato shows the way to most purists and moralists. In the mind they are creating images far removed from reality.
Unknowingly, Plato made ground for his Christian successors like Augustive and Justine who forbade theater, masks and acting. Plato accepted the traditional Greek view that experiencing emotional employment in art formed the character of audience and artist. Plato postulated that poetry has the same effect on us when it represents sex and anger, and the other desires and feelings of pleasure and pain. The poet with all his fellow artist hardly deserves to be a citizen of the perfect state. Low degree of truth appeals to a low element
Conlusions :- It has been speculated that Plato was well aware of the military weaknesses of the Athenian State in comparison with the disciplined army of Spartans. He, therefore, wanted no stone unturned in prescribing the strongest ideals for Athens. Bad art and poor taste among the art lovers were perhaps too noticeable.
Therefore, Plato was so anxious to save society from the ravages of a decadent politics, found in all art.
Aristotle :-( 384-322 B.C.) Aristotle was the son of a well known medical practitioner, Nicomachus who came from the Asklepian trading located in Macedonia. At the age of seventeen, Aristotle became a student of Plato. Later in Athens, he established his school and research, funded by Alexander, on music, botany, Zoology, medicine, Mathematics and Logic. His cosmology, physics, astronomy and theology were complied at his academy. The dialogues now lost were modeled on Plato’s and were called On Rhetoric, On Soul, On Philosophy, On Metaphysics etc. His prominent works are Analytics, Physics, De Aniima, Methaphysics, Nichomian Ethics, Politics, Ryheotoric and Poetics (fragment). He was really a revelatory thinker as compared to Plato.
1. Aristotle’s theory of Imitation:- The poetics opens with the statement that mimesis is a valuable method for artistic representation. He then goes on to define that Rhythm, Language and Harmony are the basic channels through which artistic imitation is made possible.
Language, Rhythm and Harmony are manifested as the six elements of tragedy, namely 1. Myth or Plot, 2. Ethos or character 3. Dianoia or Argument 4. Lexis or diction 5. Melopoii or Music and finally 6. Opsis or the visual Spectacle –These 6 elements are found in all other form such as the comedy & Satyr.
According to Aristotle all art and other imitation (Sculpture, Paining, poetry etc.) leads to knowledge. The pleasure that mimesis provides is on account of this knowledge.
Mimesis is defined as a pleasurable likeness. Human beings is the most living creature and he learns his earliest all lessons through imitating – ‘Ah, that is he. Imitation is one instinct of our nature. Artist is not liar but he leads us to Truth.
For Plato, all creation was an imitation of Forms, and for Aristotle, though the form (eidos) of every object existed but it is nature which itself tends to attain. Art helps Nature in attaining the perfection of Form. Ars imitates Nature and the artist may imitate things as they ought to be. It has been argued that the inner principle of Nature is what art imitates.
1.Introduction:- During the ancient time, plays/dramas were performed in the religious place on special religious occasions to communicate with ancestors and gods. The strong emotions generated while worshipping the gods, the ancestors; and this also provided an aesthetic of emotional arousal which we find at its core. This aesthetic value was formulated as Catharsis (katharsis).
Myth or Plot as an organic whole:- Aristotle postulated that myth or plot must be in an organic whole, almost like the body of structure of a living animal. It must have a definite shape or magnitude. – Aristotle defined tragedy as:-
‘ Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is complete, and whole, and of certain magnitude. A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle and an end. It must be in a certain magnitude for beauty depends on magnitude and order. As in the case of animate bodies and organism a certain magnitude is necessary. So it must be in a certain length as to embrace easily by memory.
Here, Aristotle wanted to convey us that a plot (myth,muthos) of a tragedy must be in a whole with certain magnitude (length) as to comprehend easily by the readers/spectators.
For example, our human being bodies are in certain magnitude as well our bodily parts i.e. nose, ears, legs, hands, head, etc. So as a whole we can have a perfect human figure as to figure it out that –this is a man or woman or (baby) boy or girl. Hence a spectator can easily comprehense us visually. So magnitude means the outer structure which is supported by the unity of action. Aristotle allows the poet to make changed in the events- as poet can modify history. The wholeness and magnitude provide a unity of action to the plot.
For Aristotle, there is only one kind of Unity, that of Action. He does not prescribe unities of time and place. These were attirubuted to him by the Renaissance critics.
Aristotle defines two kinds of plots, the simple (aploi) and the complex (peplegmenoi).
The simple plot or myth is without reversal of fortune (peripetia) and recognition of a past act or identity of person (anagnorsis) .
The complex plot or myth has both- reversal of fortune (peripetia) and recognition of a past act or identity of person (anagnorsis).
Anagnorisis- that’s recognition of a past act or identity of person is defined as a ‘change from ignorance to knowledge, producing love or hate between the persons destined by the poet to face good or bad fortune. In both tragic-comic peripetia and anagnorsis clearly work together.
Pathos or Suffering :- The third part of a Myth, that is the scene of suffering is called ‘pathos’.
Destructive and painful action, such as death on the stage, bodily agony, wounding etc. The best tragedies were those in which the final destructive was averted. It fulfills the tragic purpose of arousing horror and pity.
2. Ethos or Character:- Broadly speaking, character in a tragedy had to be a ‘good man’, and those in comedy and satire, were, ‘mean persons’ (bad man). So all characters fall into the category of either admirable people or ludicrous folks. The Aristotle prescribed several qualities of the protagonist of a tragedy. He must have goodness, moral purpose, propriety (reflect goodness) ,true to life and consitency.
Aristotle has given us pattern of what the tragic hero should be like. He should be a good man as ourselves. As he was always supposed to be a royal house-hold. He should have moral choices- The protagonist does not take too long to decide- it may be Hippolytus, Antigone, Drestes or Hecabe. He should give the reasons for making the choice, deliberately revealing the thought process behind the choice. The protagonist was obliged to explain his conduct to his family, friends and the gods. The greatness of ethos or character was judged by the courage with which moral choices were made. A confused procrastinator like Hamlet unable to make a timely choice, would have been an anti-hero to the ancient Greek.
Hamartia or the Tragic Falling:- Instead of our right choice, we fail some time in our life. To explain the logic of failure, Aristotle has used the term hamartia- which means hitting off the mark. It is an error or flaw (but Aristotle had not made it clear whether it’s intellectual flaw or moral flaw ) of judgement made inadvertently. The value of Hamartia was highly raised in Christian as well as in Modern moralists. Tragedy where the downfall of the hero is caused by a cardinal (basic) sin or a serious lapse. Even by making the right choice the hero could not avert (prevent) a calamity or suffering, because his suffering was not always caused by his weakness. According to this theory it was not ambition of a Macbeth, the jealousy of an Othello, or the arrogance of a Lear not was it the inner sin that destroyed man, but instead it was the dilemma imposed upon him by forces far beyond his control that caused destruction. Here suffering comes not from within but from without.
Third in order is the faculty of saying what is possible and pertinent in given circumstance.
Dianoia and The Protagonist:- The inner questioning that goes on in the mind of a character and makes him choose one way or another is called Dianoia. The ability to choose, the moral fibre or the courage to choose, is called ethos, but the ferment of thoughts that leads to the point of choice is known as Dianoia. Aristotle insists that dianoia be regarded as an essential element of tragedy. The power to take a decision of a character is also called Dianoia. A debate which has a moral or philosophical perspective in relation to the action of the protagonist is Dianoia.
4.Lexis or Diction or Language:- Lexis and Melopoiia (music) have been given very little notice in Poetics.
Lexis or Lang. in theatre can be divided into two parts:- A. The spoken word and B. The sung words. The spoken words in the form of a natural conversational speech was not much used in ancient theatre. Sound was considered to generate meaning in two ways i.e., by language and by Music. ‘Next, as regards Diction, one branch of the inquiry treats modes of utterance. –It includes what is a command, a prayer, a statement, a threat, a question ,an answer, and so forth. –
Kinds of Styles:- Play wrights linguistic style – Aristotle seems to recommend a balance between the clarity produced by the usage of current words and loftiness achieved by extraordinary usage. Loftiness was much admired by Aristotle.
5.Melopoiia or the Musical Element:- Application of music in theatre- The great playwright improved drama by not only providing fresh scripts of high literary value, they were composed of music and dance as well. As the famous saying goes ‘ Phrnikos invented as many dance steps as the waves of the sea ’’.
In Indian music we believe in the association of certain tone colours with seasons or specific emotional state. The Greek dramatists must have used the same thing.
The value of music was pivotal (crucial)in tragedy.
Opsis has the last but the least place in Aristotelian scheme. Although Opsis should be taken to mean everything visual in theatre such as formation of dancers in the chorus the costumes, movements, gestures and hand signs of the actors. The totality of opsis was immense in Greek Theatre.
Visual Parts of Tragedy:- All plays began with a prologue, spoken by a single actor or at times by two. The chorus then entered often from the right side singing and dancing. Then followed a dramatic episode or an act in which the actor spoke or sang to each other to which the chorus also reacted mostly in song.
Greek Gesture & Dance:- Gestures for orators was prescribed by the Greek rhetoricians for arousing emotions and effective communications Quintilian has given an account of how the head, face, arms, body and feet can be made to express joy, sorrow, humility, abhorrence, wonder and many other emotions. Quaintilian and Plutarch etc. indicate that a definite choreology for the purpose of teaching and practicing dance exist in Greece .
Conclusion:- Aristotle provides a frame work for us to see the art of tragedy in its totality and as a theatrical experience. Plato’s primary concern was to see the function of tragedy in the Utopian State, Aristotle’s aim was to analysis tragedy as it was to be found in Greek Culture. Aristotle described the genre of tragedy in six parts as well recorded how these diverse parts made a whole.
Aristotle has talked about the proper pleasure of tragedy (hedone) . Catharsis has been regarded as the sole aim of tragedy. ‘Pleasure which is proper only to tragedy and which is not be found in comedy or any other form. Aristotle states that tragedy cannot afford every kind of pleasure but only that which is proper to it, and this comes about from pity and fear through imitation. Pleasure is said to be derived from completeness and wholeness of action in a plot. Pleasure is said to be a result of music and spectacular effects.
Tragedy defined:- “ Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude, in (pleasurable) language embellished with (accessories) each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play in the form of action (dramatic), not of narrative, through pity and fear effecting the purgation or Katharsis of these emotions- (Butcher-23)
Catharsis is not only a fact of psychology or of pathology, but a principle of art.
Clinical definition:- According to the Hippocratic theory, an imbalance among the elements of air, bile-black bile, yellow bile, melancholy, and phlegm causes each and every disease.
Musical Catharsis:- In the ancient time , there was a practice of curing madness. The Patients were made to listen to certain melodies which made them fall back into their normal state, as if they had undergone a medical or purgative (cathartic) treatment. Catharsis yield in net result of a noble emotional satisfaction which is an essential feature of it. It fulfills the aesthetic function.
Entertainment and ritual were intertwined in ancient theatre. Religion, customs and faiths were revived through the device of re-telling the myths in the form of dramatic enactment on festival and special occasions. In this manner tragedy was a reliving of the pollution and purity cycle by both the actors and the spectators. All underwent into catharsis. Thus catharsis is the process of proving purity.
As Else puts it,’’ An unconscious intention to kill a person who is a close kind i.e. without being aware of the kinship as Oedipus did not know that he killed his father would therefore be pure, catharos. But purity must be proved to our satisfaction. Catharsis would then be the process of proving that the act was pure in that sense. It is by the remorse of the doers which shows that if he had known the facts he would not have done the deed. In Oedipus, the thing which establish this to ours satisfaction is Oedipus’ self blinding. It, then, effects a purification of the tragic deed and so makes Oedipus eligible to our pity-(Else-98).
In this regard of Else’s view it seems Catharsis is purification of the tragic deed and not of the emotions of the spectators. This goes against all other instances of Catharsis as mentioned by Plato and Aristotle. Aristotle is more concerned with showing how we can feel pity for the protagonist and not purifying the sin and the sinner.
Aristotle does not state that the purpose of the dramatist’s art is to create emotional excitement. He said;” The pleasure proper to tragedy’ comes from pity and fear through imitation- (Poetics-xiv:3), In the first eleven chapters of the second book of Rhetoric, it is shown that a orator can arouse anger, affection, friendliness, enmity, hatred, fear, shame, pity, indignation and many other emotions. The supreme emotion on which tragedy depends most is pity-(eleos). Here Pity means –Compassionate grief, sympathy for sorrow that’s witnessed. Situation like the loss of a child, a father murder, the abduction of a wife, horror at unjust sexual compulsions etc. can become tragic or provide pleasure proper to tragedy.
The Other Major Tragic emotion is fear –Phobos- which seems to imply an instinct to run away. –Terror is better translation to it. The symptoms of fear as described by rhetoricians and dramatists are of shivering, shuddling, shrieking, hair standing on etc. prostration –
Anger and hatred are the desire for revenge when harms has been done to a dear one.
Conclusion:- Aristotelian scheme of artistic creation the sequence was as follow:- Mimesis was the prime method that result in a powerful emotional arousal which provided for the audience not only a specific sort of pleasure (hedone) but also a relief or Catharsis.