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Catharsis In Aristotle's Poetics Essay

683 words - 3 pages

Aristotle's Poetics SummaryAristotle's Poetics seeks to address the different kinds of poetry, the structure of a good poem, and the division of a poem into its component parts. He defines poetry as a 'medium of imitation' that seeks to represent or duplicate life through character, emotion, or action. Aristotle defines poetry very broadly, including epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, dithyrambic poetry, and even some kinds of music.According to Aristotle, tragedy came from the efforts of poets to present men as 'nobler,' or 'better' than they are in real life. Comedy, on the other hand, shows a 'lower type' of person, and reveals humans to be worse than they are in average. Epic poetry, on the other hand, imitates 'noble' men like tragedy, but only has one type of meter - unlike tragedy, which can have several - and is narrative in form.Aristotle lays out six elements of tragedy: plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, and song. Plot is 'the soul' of tragedy, because action is paramount to the significance of a drama, and all other elements are subsidiary. A plot must have a beginning, middle, and end; it must also be universal in significance, have a determinate structure, and maintain a unity of theme and purpose.Plot also must contain elements of astonishment, reversal (peripeteia), recognition, and suffering. Reversal is an ironic twist or change by which the main action of the story comes full-circle. Recognition, meanwhile, is the change from ignorance to knowledge, usually involving people coming to understand one another's true identities. Suffering is a destructive or painful action, which is often the result of a reversal or recognition. All three elements coalesce to create "catharsis," which is the engenderment of fear and pity in the audience: pity for the tragic hero's plight, and fear that his fate might befall us.When it comes to character, a poet should aim for four things. First, the hero must be 'good,' and thus manifest moral purpose in his speech. Second, the hero must have propriety, or 'manly valor.' Thirdly, the...

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