Poetics Summary Aristotle proposes to study poetry by analyzing its constitutive parts and then drawing general conclusions. The portion of the Poetics that survives discusses mainly tragedy and epic poetry. We know that Aristotle also wrote a treatise on comedy that has been lost. He defines poetry as the mimetic, or imitative, use of language, rhythm, and harmony, separately or in combination.
In other words, poetry imitates nature, which is to say it imitates life, whether natural objects or human actions. For Aristotle, tragedy is an imitation of human action. Aristotle insisted, perhaps consciously in opposition to Plato, that poetry represents something that is real, something that exists in the world.
In his analysis of the origins of poetry, Aristotle argues that imitation is natural to childhood, and children learn most of their first life lessons through the imitation of others. People are also naturally given to taking pleasure in imitation. Unity of Plot In his analysis of tragedy, Aristotle argues that the most important element is plot.
Further, he insists on the necessity of unity in the plot.
All the events portrayed must contribute to the plot. There must be no subplots or superfluous elements.
Every element of the plot must work together to create a seamless whole. If any part were to be altered or withdrawn, this would leave the play disjointed and incomplete in some way.
The plot must have a beginning, a middle, and an end, in which each event follows either in likelihood or necessity from the previous one. There must be a clear cause and effect relationship in the events depicted.
The Structure of Tragedy In his analysis of the structure of tragedy, Aristotle uses four terms that are of particular importance: In tragedy this would mean from good to bad; in comedy it would mean the opposite. The reversal often marks a climax or turning point in the action. One of the clearest examples of recognition occurs in Oedipus at the moment when Oedipus achieves an awareness of his true identity.
This results in the purification catharsis of those emotions. Catharsis is a Greek word that has passed into the English language. In catharsis the emotions are aroused but then released, resulting in a restored state of equilibrium. Tragedy therefore serves a useful function for the audience since it experiences the downfall of the hero vicariously, feels deep emotion at witnessing the spectacle, but then emerges from it in a more balanced psychological condition.
One common example of the tragic error in Greek literature is that of hubris or pride, as for example when a man refuses to acknowledge the authority of divine law.In the Poetics, Aristotle's famous study of Greek dramatic art, Aristotle ( B.C.) compares tragedy to such other metrical forms as comedy and epic.
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. Aristotle's Poetics: Theme Analysis, Free Study Guides and book notes including comprehensive chapter analysis, complete summary analysis, author biography information, character profiles, theme analysis, metaphor analysis, and top ten quotes on classic literature.
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Aristotle's Poetics: Theme Analysis, Free Study Guides and book notes including comprehensive chapter analysis, complete summary analysis, author biography information, character profiles, theme analysis, metaphor analysis, and top ten quotes on classic literature.
His analysis of tragedy constitutes the core of the discussion. Although Aristotle's Poetics is universally acknowledged in the Western critical tradition, "almost every detail about his seminal work has aroused divergent opinions".
The work was lost to the Western world for a long time. Aristotle's Poetics is dedicated to investigating aesthetics, a branch of philosophy concerned with the concept of beauty and other artistic principles. As a piece devoted to characterizing various genres of poetry, drama and even literature, Poetics is considered the earliest extant work in literary theory.