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Aristotle’s Poetics in Contemporary Play Structure

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Samantha Waldrop

on 9 January 2017

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Transcript of Aristotle’s Poetics in Contemporary Play Structure

Aristotle’s Poetics in Contemporary Play Structure
Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a
Greek philosopher
and a student of Plato.

Together with
Plato and Socrates
(Plato's teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in
Western philosophy

Aristotle's Poetics is the
earliest-surviving structure
of dramatic playwriting.

Step #1 Plot
Refers to the
"structure of incidents"

(actions). Key elements of the plot are
reversals, recognitions
, and

Step #4 Diction
Refers to the
quality of the dialogue or language
in a play.

His writings cover many subjects including:
, poetry,
, music, logic,
, politics,
, biology, and

Aristotle's writings were the
first to create a comprehensive system
for writing plays.
The Poetics
His Poetics give structure for the
creation of plays.

Aristotle is concerned
with the ability of plays to reproduce or to imitate human situations
and events.

Aristotle’s theory states playwriting has six steps. The steps are in
order of importance

best plots are
"complex" (i.e. involves a change of fortune).

should imitate actions while arousing
fear and pity.

Plots should proceed from
good fortune to bad
and involve a
high degree of suffering for the protagonist
, usually involving physical harm or death.

Step #2 Character
As the plot unfolds
we get to know and understand the characters as they reveal their personalities
through their actions and interactions with one another.

Four Main Qualities
1. No matter who they are (hero or slave), the characters
must be good in some way

2. The characters should
act appropriately for their gender
and station in life.

3. The characters have to have
believable personalities

4. Each character must act
consistently throughout the play.
In other words, nothing should be done or said that could be seen as “
acting out of character

Step #3 Thought
Thought is the
of a play.

As we follow the course of the plot and the characters involvement with it,
certain ideas or themes will arise
– the play is focusing on power or love or family.

The ideas
begin to form and at the conclusion
of the play we can decide upon which ideas were most dominant.

Dialogue or language should reflect character, the
moral message of a play
and the locale of the play.

Step #5 Music
Music does not only refer to music we may hear, but also the
tempo of the play
. Some scenes move quickly, such as an argument, while some unfold more deliberately. The
pace of the dialogue
is also music.

Upon reading a play we must
imagine what these conversations would sound like.

Step #6 Spectacle
, costumes,
lights and sound effects
work together to finish the play.

Viewing Theatre is the Reverse
Spectacle – Before the play begins
we can see visually elements of setting
, idea and even character.

Music – Before we understand where the plot is going we
hear the tempo
of the play. We understand the
feeling of the characters
through their pace.

Language – As the characters speak and we hear their voices their
personalities develop before us
. We hear the differences in the classes.

Idea – Before the plot has concluded we can see some
themes emerging in the story.
We discover what drives characters though we do not know why.

Character - Upon the conclusion of the play we have an understanding of the characters and their complete personalities,
complimented by the visual and audible contributions
of the designers and the actors.

Plot - The plot of the play is finally complete as we see how all the events
tie together
and have focused on one conflict.
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