Aristotle was a phenomenal Greek philosopher. His words and thoughts inspired millions, and continue inspiring today. He taught lessons to those who would listen, he preached his scientific findings, but above all, Aristotle enjoyed the theatre. In fact, Aristotle had his own views about different genres. Today we will look at tragedy. In Aristotle’s mind, a tragedy was the process of imitating an action which had serious implications, was complete, and possessed magnitude. He even composed six elements that a tragedy must contain. Aristotle’s six elements of tragedy are a plot, characters, thought, verbal expression, song composition, and visual adornment. Each contributes to an aspect of a tragedy.
Fires in the Mirror, written by Anna Devere Smith, is a contemporary tragedy. We can use Aristotle’s 6 elements to deeper analyze Fires in the Mirror and discover what makes it a tragedy, and why it challenges and differs from other tragedies during the ancient Greek period when Aristotle preached his knowledge.
Aristotle’s first element regards the importance of an interesting plot. A plot is a compiled sequence of events in a play. The sequences must be unified because they will all link to the central action. The central action is the goal which the hero is trying to achieve. In Fires in the Mirror, we don’t see a hero, or a timeline plot. This challenges Aristotle’s idea about plot. Instead, we see interviews that are supposed to make up the “would-be” plot. Although they aren’t a series of events, they are still linked because each interview pertains to the riots and the opinions about racism. All are intertwined and relate to the Crown Heights riots of 1991.
Aristotle’s second element pertains to characters. He believed the hero of the play has to be a good character that acts in ways which are appropriate to their situation. This is another place where Fires in the Mirror challenges Aristotle. Fires in the Mirror had many characters, but no hero. Not to mention that Fires in the Mirror also had female roles. In Aristotle’s day, women could not perform in plays because it was against the law. In fact, women didn’t have a significant role in society at all. They were merely domestic property unless they were of royal status. This meant the protagonist in the plays were usually male. Nowadays, women have rights and many plays use both men and women to act as the protagonist.
The third element in Aristotle’s tragedy list is thought. The way we describe thought is the way a character reasons. Aristotle argues that the characters of a play are logical. Fires in the Mirror challenges this element because Anna Devere Smith made most of her characters react off of emotion, rather than logicality. During the Greek era, the hero of a play was directly related to the situation, but they still used logic to determine their action. I believe Anna Devere Smith illustrated reality a bit better. Very few people use...