[Sabit] Definition of Tragedy, the plot ve Characters in tragedy notları  


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15/01/2019 1:14 pm  

   Definition of Tragedy:    “Tragedy, then, 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; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its katharsis of such emotions. . . .

    Every Tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality—namely, Plot, Characters, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Melody.”

    Tragedy is the “imitation of an action” (mimesis) according to “the law of probability or necessity.” Aristotle indicates that the medium of tragedy is drama, not narrative; tragedy “shows” rather than “tells.” According to Aristotle, tragedy is higher and more philosophical than history because history simply relates what has happened while tragedy dramatizes what may happen. Tragedy, however, is rooted in the fundamental order of the universe; it creates a cause-and-effect chain that clearly reveals what may happen at any time or place because that is the way the world operates. Tragedy therefore arouses not only pity but also fear, because the audience can envision themselves within this cause-and-effect chain

  1. The plot must be “a whole,” with a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning,

calledby modern critics the incentive moment, must start the cause-and-effect chain but not be dependent on anything outside the compass of the play. The middle, or climax, must be caused by earlier incidents and itself cause the incidents that follow it (i.e., its causes and effects are stressed). The end, or resolution, must be caused by the preceding events but not lead to other incidents outside the compass of the play

  1. The plot must be “complete,” having “unity of action.” By this Aristotle means that

the plot must be structurally self-contained, with the incidents bound together by internal necessity, Playwrights should exclude coincidences from their plots; if some coincidence is required, it should “have an air of design,

  1. The plot must be “of a certain magnitude,” both quantitatively (length, complexity)

and qualitatively (“seriousness” and universal significance). Aristotle argues that plots should not be too brief

  1. The plot may be either simple or complex, although complex is better. Simple plots

have only a “change of fortune” (catastrophe). Complex plots have both “reversal of intention” (peripeteia) and “recognition” (anagnorisis) connected with the catastrophe.


Character has the second place in importance. In a perfect tragedy, character will support plot, i.e., personal motivations will be intricately connected parts of the cause-and-effect chain of actions producing pity and fear in the audience. The protagonist should be renowned and prosperous, so his change of fortune can be from good to bad.


Characters in tragedy should have the following qualities;

  1. “good or fine.” Aristotle relates this quality to moral purpose and says it is relative to class: “Even a woman may be good, and also a slave, though the woman may be said to be an inferior being, and the slave quite worthless.”
  2. “fitness of character” (true to type); e.g. valor is appropriate for a warrior but not for a woman.
  3. “true to life” (realistic)
  4. “consistency” (true to themselves). Once a character's personality and motivations are established, these should continue throughout the play.
  5. “necessary or probable.” Characters must be logically constructed according to “the law of probability or necessity” that governs the actions of the play.
  6. “true to life and yet more beautiful” (idealized, ennobled).


  • Thought is third in importance, and is found “where something is proved to be or not to be, or a general maxim is enunciated.”Aristotle says little about thought, and most of what he has to say is associated with how speeches should reveal character (context 1; context 2). However, we may assume that this category would also include what we call the themes of a play


  • Diction is fourth, and is “the expression of the meaning in words” which are proper and appropriate to the plot, characters, and end of the tragedy


  • Song, or melody, is fifth, and is the musical element of the chorus.Aristotle argues that the Chorus should be fully integrated into the play like an actor;


  • Spectacle is last, for it is least connected with literature; “the production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet


  • The end of the tragedy is a katharsis(purgation, cleansing) of the tragic emotions of pity and fear. Katharsis is another Aristotelian term that has generated considerable debate. The word means “purging,” and Aristotle seems to be employing a medical metaphor—tragedy arouses the emotions of pity and fear in order to purge away their excess, to reduce these passions to a healthy, balanced proportion. Aristotle also talks of the “pleasure” that is proper to tragedy, apparently meaning the aesthetic pleasure one gets from contemplating the pity and fear that are aroused through an intricately constructed work of art


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