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Aristotle's Elements of Tragedy

Pre-AP English 2 A

Micki Clark

on 2 January 2017

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Transcript of Aristotle's Elements of Tragedy

Aristotle's Elements/
Introduction to Drama

Freytag's Pyramid
No Deus Ex Machina
No Episodic Plots (Unity of Action)
Hamartia - tragic flaw
In the ideal tragedy, the protagonist brings about his own downfall through his own ignorance. The protagonist must begin the play as a strong character.
Aristotle says a character should be:
1. good or fine (i.e., moral)
2. fit of character (true to type)
3. true to life (realistic)
4. consistent (true to themselves)
5. logically constructed
6. slightly idealized
The tragic hero's fall comes about not because he is a bad person, per se, but because he makes some sort of mistake.
Related to thought are the themes and messages of the play. Rather than merely imitate the real world, the author must give form and meaning to reality.
Remember, diction means word choice. An author must make specific style choices. Aristotle's personal favorite was the metaphor.
Aristotle believed that the chorus should be incorporated into the play, and that their odes should serve to further the purpose and plot of the play. Keep in mind--he doesn't like episodic works. Everything must contribute to the unity of action.
The least significant element is spectacle.
Aristotle acknowledged that a certain amount of spectacle was necessary, but he believed that this was more the responsibility of the stage manager, not the author. He frowned on overuse of spectacle, which makes a work "monstrous"--can you think of modern examples?
the audience's emotional purge
excessive pride

for additional info: http://www2.cnr.edu/home/bmcmanus/poetics.html,
A Few Notes About Drama
Drama is a composition of verse or prose that relates a story. It is meant to be performed. It's divided in three ways:
Acts (traditional plays often have 5)
Scenes (smaller divisions of acts)
Lines (the individual lines of text spoken by actors).

The (Many) Fathers of Drama
Aeschylus is known as the father of tragedy. Way back in the 520-450 B.C.E, he was the first playwright to allow actors to interact with each other. Previously, actors had only interacted with the chorus.

Shakespeare is the father of English drama.
Henrik Ibsen is the father of modern drama.
The (Main) Types of Drama
Tragedy - a play that exposes the suffering of humanity
Comedy - often based on real life, humorous
Farce - highly improbably situations, exaggerated behavior, often violence. Usually considered rude/crude.
Melodrama - often focusing on good/evil, these are characterized by excessive emotion
Fantasy - characters and situations are supernatural. Completely fictional.
Musical - a play that combines music, melody, dance, and acting.
Opera - the entire play is sung/set to music.
Origins of Drama
Drama got its start with the ancient Greeks, who often performed plays at festivals, typically in honor of a god or goddess (especially Dionysus, god of theatre).

Greek plays were performed in outdoor theaters. Today we'd call those spaces amphitheaters. The space is designed for acoustics.
Elements of Tragedy
No episodic plots
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