An analysis of Medea through Aristotle’s Poetics
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher, who lived during the period of 384 to 322 BC. He has been widely recognized throughout history as one of the most significant thinkers and philosophers. His work in Poetics has helped define the way in which Greek literature and even contemporary texts are read. To begin Aristotle helps us define what he considers tragedy and what he determines is not worthy of the term. He divides and analyzes one by one the parts that he considers are essential to any tragedy, and orders them according to what he believes is the most important. He meticulously picks out every component that each part should have, and is very clear on what he considers inappropriate and what shows the weakness of a poet. He shows a very strong admiration for the works of Homer and Sophocles.
Aristotle says that tragic poetry is a mode of imitation, the goal of it is to represent men a lot better than they actually are in real life. He also mentions that every tragedy must be composed of the following six parts: plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle and song (Aristotle 1229). The goal of this essay will be to contrast and compare all the different parts of the tragedy Medea written by Euripides to see if this author’s story falls into the category of what Aristotle would believe to be a good tragedy.
Euripides lived during the time period of 480 to 406 BC, he is considered alongside Aeschylus and Sophocles, to be one of the greatest play writers of the greatest age of Greece (Hurt, Wilkie 839). His story Medea revolves around a woman who is betrayed by her husband when he decides to leave her and marry the princess of Corinth. Out of her anger and hurt Medea is overcome with the need to seek revenge for her husband Jason’s actions. This story is the continuation of a previous tale where Medea’s and Jason come to Corinth from a foreign land.
We will begin to analyze this story with the part of a tragedy that Aristotle deems as the most important, which is the plot. In Poetics he refers to the plot as the soul of a tragedy (Aristotle 1230). In Aristotle’s eyes what he considers to be a good plot is one that is complex rather than simple, he also warns readers of episodic plots, which he considers to be the worst due to their lack of connection. The story of Medea possesses a few of the characteristics that Aristotle believes to be of utmost importance in a plot. First of all the story does not have an episodic plot, which is considered unacceptable. The story of Medea follows an organized sequence, and is the continuation of previous a previous story, there also is a cause and effect relationship amongst the different events that take place during the play, which can be seen in Medea’s hurt and anger which we know is caused by her husband’s departure from her household or the reason why she must take revenge and kill the princess, the king, and even her own children.
A complex plot is said...