Poetics by Aristotle‘The plot is the source and the soul of tragedy’
In his near-contemporary account of Greek tragedy, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language and spectacle that combine to produce pity and fear in the audience, and asks why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. Taking examples from the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, The Poetics introduces into literary criticism such central concepts as mimesis (‘imitation’), hamartia (‘error’), and katharsis (‘purification’). Aristotle explains how the most effective tragedies rely on complication and resolution, recognition and reversals, centring on characters of heroic stature, idealized yet true to life. One of the most powerful, perceptive and influential works of criticism in Western literary history, the Poetics has informed serious thinking about drama ever since.
Malcolm Heath’s lucid English translation makes the Poetics fully accessible to the modern reader. It is accompanied by an extended introduction, which discusses the key concepts in detail and includes suggestions for further reading.
Aristotle’s Six Elements of Drama
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The Definition of Tragedy This chapter opens with Aristotle's famous definition of tragedy: Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions. The first in the discussion is spectacle , which includes the costuming of the actors, the scenery, and all other aspects that contribute to the visual experience of the play. Next come song and diction. Song obviously refers to the vocal compositions incorporated into the performance, and diction refers to the metrical composition of the spoken lines. Aristotle moves on to elements relating to the humans represented in tragedy, thought and character. Character includes all qualities we associate with individuals represented in the play; the meaning of thought is more elusive, but it seems to indicate the processes of reasoning that lead characters to behave as they do. The final component is plot , which Aristotle defines as "the arrangement of the incidents"
He 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 ends. The aim of tragedy, Aristotle writes, is to bring about a "catharsis" of the spectators — to arouse in them sensations of pity and fear, and to purge them of these emotions so that they leave the theater feeling cleansed and uplifted, with a heightened understanding of the ways of gods and men. This catharsis is brought about by witnessing some disastrous and moving change in the fortunes of the drama's protagonist Aristotle recognized that the change might not be disastrous, but felt this was the kind shown in the best tragedies — Oedipus at Colonus, for example, was considered a tragedy by the Greeks but does not have an unhappy ending. According to Aristotle, tragedy has six main elements: plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle scenic effect , and song music , of which the first two are primary. Most of the Poetics is devoted to analysis of the scope and proper use of these elements, with illustrative examples selected from many tragic dramas, especially those of Sophocles, although Aeschylus, Euripides, and some playwrights whose works no longer survive are also cited.
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At its most basic, content marketing is about narrative building. While that simplified structure might work in some situations you need food? I sell food! Problem solved. There is a lot of great advice about storytelling, but I always like to return to a foundational expert of writing, philosophy, and drama: Aristotle. Fair question. Writing advice often over-complicates things.