Aristotle’s Elements of Tragedy

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Aristotle is one of the most important western philosophers in history that has influenced our society in many aspects. Many of Aristotle’s teachings have affected our world for many years and still continue to have such a big impact. Some of the subjects Aristotle has influenced include: logic, physics, government and poetry. Aristotle’s study of poetry mainly focused on the elements to a good tragedy. Some of his elements have been used in Greek tragedies and modern movies. The Greek play, Medea, and the modern movie, No Country for Old Men, use elements from Aristotle philosophy, while using similar and different techniques but both achieving an effective tragedy.
In Aristotle’s book, Poetics, he defines tragedy as, “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and possessing magnitude; in embellished language, each kind of which is used separately in the different parts; in the mode of action and not narrated; and effecting through pity and fear” (Aristotle 1149). Tragedy creates a cause and effect chain of actions that clearly gives the audience ideas of possible events. The six parts to Aristotle’s elements of tragedy are: Plot, character, language, thought, spectacle, and melody. According to Aristotle, the most important element is the plot. Aristotle writes in Poetics that, “It is not for the purpose of presenting their characters that the agents engage in action, but rather it is for the sake of their actions that they take on the characters they have” (Aristotle 1150). Plots should have a beginning, middle, and end that have a unity of actions throughout the play making it complete. In addition, the plot should be complex making it an effective tragedy. The second most important element is character. Characters...

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...hough the two demonstrate the elements in different ways, they both achieve an effective tragedy. Now after learning about Aristotle’s philosophy on tragedy, one can examine any type of tragic poetry, play, movie and analysis if the elements are portrayed. Its interesting to see how much of Aristotle’s philosophy has effected poetry in the art of the Greek tragedy, Medea, and the modern movie, No Country for Old Men.

Works Cited

Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. Gerald F. Else. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1967. Dorsch, T. R., trans. and ed. Aristotle Horace Longinus: Classical Literary Criticism. New York: Penguin, 1965. Ley, Graham. The Ancient Greek Theater. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1991. Reinhold, Meyer. Classical Drama, Greek and Roman. New York: Barrons, 1959.
Puchner, Martin. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Vol. A. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. Print.
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