Essay on Aristotle 's Literary Theory Of Recognition, Reversal, And Katharsis

Essay on Aristotle 's Literary Theory Of Recognition, Reversal, And Katharsis

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Aristotle’s literary theory of recognition, reversal, and katharsis can be seen in the short story, “Harrison Bergeron”, by Kurt Vonnegut. According to Aristotle’s theory of katharsis, the feelings of pity and fear helps the reader to purge these emotions to feel better in the end. Recognition is a grand revelation that the main character or readers realize. Reversal is the unexpected change of direction that the story takes. Aristotle believes that the best tragedies include both recognition and reversal at the same time. In the story of “Harrison Bergeron”, Americans have become completely equal by the year 2081. Everyone is average and there are laws and equipment that makes sure that the population is identical in appearance, intelligence, and talent. Bergeron rebels against these laws and asks others to join him and he is consequently shot. This story is considered a tragedy because it makes the future seem grim. Although this story does not exactly fit the mold of Aristotle’s tragedies, there are scenes of recognition and reversal as well as moments that evoke katharsis.
Aristotle’s theory of recognition can be seen near the end of “Harrison Bergeron”. Bergeron asks everyone at the television station to join him in rebelling because he realized that he can be who he wants to be and not what the government wants him to be. That was the moment that Harrison realized that he did not have to be the same as everyone else. Vonnegut shows the theory of recognition in the scene where “Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore the straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds” (229). The theory of recognition is applied here as Bergeron breaks free of his physical and mental confinement and trie...


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...ing tragic happen to them. In the end, readers can feel glad that these extreme equality laws are just fictional and not reality.
Aristotle’s theory of recognition, reversal, and katharsis can be seen in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”. Recognition can be seen when Harrison stands up against the government and asks others to join him and be who they really are. The story also showcases two scenes with reversal including one where Harrison gets shot after going on television. Aristotle’s theories are important to the story as it provides the story with a protagonist and keeps the readers engaged. In the end, readers can go home satisfied after purging out their emotions of fear and pity for the characters in the story. The combination of Aristotle’s theories of recognition, reversal, and katharsis help make “Harrison Bergeron” a more engaging and successful story.

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