Elements of Tragedy by Aristotle | Poetics | Critical Theory

Elements of Tragedy by Aristotle

Now let's discuss the ingredients of a tragedy. Aristotle's theory of tragedy talks of six ingredients of tragedy, these are :-

💡6 elements of Tragedy:-

1) Plot :-

The first and foremost element of tragedy is its plot. Aristotle has given it the most importance and calls it the 'soul of the tragedy'. Plot consists of a logical, regular and inevitable sequence of events. Without it tragedy is not possible.

Aristotle discusses two kinds of plot- Simple plot and complex plot.

📍Simple plot:-

In simple plot story runs smoothly with no sub-stories running side by side. There is only a single story which forms the plot. It is easy to understand.

📍Complex plot:-

According to Aristotle, a complex plot consists of two stories with parallel story running along the main story. In this plot there is a unity of time, place and action. It is comparatively difficult to understand. Aristotle prefers the complex plot.

2) Character :-

In a perfect tragedy character supports the plot. It is the second most important element of tragedy.

Aristotle talks about four requisites/conditions for a successful characterization:-

a) the characters must be good,

b) the characters must be appropriate,

c) the characters must be true to life,

d) the characters must be consistent.

      For Aristotle, tragic hero should not be immensely good or extremely bad. Otherwise any misfortune to him would not excite the emotions of pity or fear. He should stand in the middle of these two extremes of good and bad, but to a certain degree he should lean toward goodness.

Related Links
Critical TheoryAristotle's Theory of Catharsis
American LiteratureEmerson: Self Reliance
British LiteratureShakespeare : King Lear
LinguisticsPhonetics & Phonology

3) Thought :-

A tragic play should be thought provoking. Aristotle has given third importance to thought. It is the intellectual element in a tragedy and is expressed through the speech of a character. It includes the theme of the tragedy.

4) Diction :-

Diction is the selection and choice of words or vocabulary employed by the dramatist. It is the style of presentation and expression of the meaning in the words, with essence being same in verse and prose both. According to Aristotle language should be such that right and correct massage is conveyed properly.

5) Spectacle :-

Spectacle is the organisation of the scenic effects on the stage. It is concerned with stagecraft. It plays an important role in producing effects of the tragedy.

6) Music/Song :-

The last ingredient of tragedy is song. It distinguishes the tragedy from epic and catches the attention of the audience. It adds fluid narrative style and make audience aware of the events that don't occur before their eyes or on the stage.

                 Thus Aristotle defines tragedy as an imitation of human action with Seriousness and unity of plot, which through its exploitation of the emotions of pity and fear results into the proper catharsis of these emotions.

Elements of Tragedy by Aristotle


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