Aristotle’s Elements Of Tragedy Essay

1802 words - 7 pages

Aristotle is one of the most important western philosophers in history that has influenced our society in many aspects. Many of Aristotle’s teachings have affected our world for many years and still continue to have such a big impact. Some of the subjects Aristotle has influenced include: logic, physics, government and poetry. Aristotle’s study of poetry mainly focused on the elements to a good tragedy. Some of his elements have been used in Greek tragedies and modern movies. The Greek play, Medea, and the modern movie, No Country for Old Men, use elements from Aristotle philosophy, while using similar and different techniques but both achieving an effective tragedy.
In Aristotle’s book, Poetics, he defines tragedy as, “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and possessing magnitude; in embellished language, each kind of which is used separately in the different parts; in the mode of action and not narrated; and effecting through pity and fear” (Aristotle 1149). Tragedy creates a cause and effect chain of actions that clearly gives the audience ideas of possible events. The six parts to Aristotle’s elements of tragedy are: Plot, character, language, thought, spectacle, and melody. According to Aristotle, the most important element is the plot. Aristotle writes in Poetics that, “It is not for the purpose of presenting their characters that the agents engage in action, but rather it is for the sake of their actions that they take on the characters they have” (Aristotle 1150). Plots should have a beginning, middle, and end that have a unity of actions throughout the play making it complete. In addition, the plot should be complex making it an effective tragedy. The second most important element is character. Characters have an essential role of contributing to the plot, as they all have a moral purpose. Without characters, the plot would be empty and incomplete. The last four elements: Thought, Language, Melody and Spectacle, are considered the least important to Aristotle. Thought is defined as the power of saying whatever can be said and should be said about the plot. Language is defined as the actual composition of lines and how it is said and Spectacle refers to the visual accessions of the play. Although Aristotle believes these are the least important, he also believes that these four must all be done correctly in order for the play to be effective. Aristotle writes in Poetics the six elements necessary to create a good tragedy.
One example of these elements in Greek tragedy is the play Medea, written by Euripides, which represents the theme of justice and revenge. Medea’s heart is broken by Jason when he marries another woman, which leads her to seek revenge. This play clearly includes the six elements of a tragedy Aristotle discussed in Poetics although in different order. Many of the events that occurred in this play were because of characterization. That is why the element of characters was the primary focus of this play....

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