Aristotle Tragedy and the Tragic Hero
Aristotle’s Life • Student of the philosopher Plato • Teacher to Alexander the Great • Divided philosophical thought into ethics, physics, and logic
A General Definition of Tragedy • Any serious and dignified drama that describes a conflict between the hero(protagonist) and a superior force(antagonist), and reaches a sorrowful conclusion that arouses pity or fear in the audience(catharsis).
Aristotle’s Definition of Tragedy • Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions.
Aristotle’s Poetics: Basic Concepts • Complex plots are better than simple ones • Suffering is to be included in a tragic plot which should end unhappily. • The pity and fear from which the tragedy evokes, should come from the events, not from the mere sight of something on stage.
Recognition is a change from ignorance to knowledge. The new knowledge often identifies an unknown relative or dear one whom the hero should cherish but was about to harm or has just harmed. Reversal is a change of a situation to its opposite. Recognition and Reversal
Characteristics of the Tragic Hero. The Character… • Is not all good or bad • Is of the noble class or highly renowned and prosperous • Has a tragic flaw • Recognizes his error and accepts the consequences • Arouses the audience’s pity and fear