Essay on Matthew Arnold versus Aristotle's Poetics

Essay on Matthew Arnold versus Aristotle's Poetics

Length: 3849 words (11 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The value of imitation: a vision of Aristotle's Poetics

Aristotle wrote his Poetics thousands of years before Matthew Arnold's birth. His reasons for composing it were different from Arnold's reasons for using it as an element of his own poetic criticism. We can safely say that Arnold was inclined to use the Poetics as an inspiration for his own poetry, and as a cultural weapon in the fight for artistic and social renewal. Aristotle, by contrast, was more concerned with discovering general truths, and with formalising truths already known intuitively within his own society.

I wish, in this article, to make some observations about the way in which some of the seminal ideas in the Poetics affected one key writer within the English literary tradition. Curiously enough the first thing to be said about Arnold's view of Aristotle is that it is more a Platonic than an Aristotelian view. In short Arnold was primarily, though not merely, an idealist. If, for the sake of clarity we could for the purpose of this analysis call Aristotle a realist, we might be better able to see the proper scope of this account. What we have then is the case of a man who was primarily a scientist and philosopher -- a realist in the best sense of the word, influencing a poet and visionary -- an idealist in the best sense of the word.

I have decided, despite many references in Arnold's work to Aristotelian ideas generally, to concentrate on one piece of work by Arnold; a piece of work where he more specifically refers to Aristotelian ideas of imitation. This is the 1853 Preface to The Poems of Matthew Arnold 1840-1866. I will therefore, where appropriate, compare and contrast this Preface to the Poetics. Such an approach gives us a chance to look at Ari...


... middle of paper ...


... by Ingram Bywater (Oxford 1909).
Aristotle, Aristotle on the Art of Poetry, Introduction and Translation by T. S. Dorsch, in Betty Radice (ed.), Aristotle, Horace, Longinus: Classical Literary Criticism, (London 1978).
M. Arnold, Preface to The Poems of Matthew Arnold 1840-1866, (London 1908) 3-17
M. Arnold, "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time", National Review (November 1864), Rpt. in Matthew Arnold's Essays in Criticism, (London 1964) 9-34
S. Collini, Arnold, Past Masters series, (Oxford 1988).
L. Johnson, "Review of the 1891 Edition of The Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold", Academy (1891) in Carl Dawson (ed.), Matthew Arnold: The Poetry: The Critical Heritage, (London 1973) 386-91.
Plato, The Symposium Translation by Benjamin Jowett as part of The Works of Plato (New York n. d.) in Candace Ward (ed.), Plato: Symposium and Phaedrus (New York 1993).

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Arnold's Dover Beach and Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey Essay example

- A reflection on Arnold's "Dover Beach" and Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" Poetry that establishes its raison d'être as linguistic play is, for Wordsworth, "a matter of amusement and idle pleasure…as if it were a thing as indifferent as a taste for rope-dancing, or frontiniac or sherry" (Preface 250). Wordsworth condemns poets whose efforts contribute mainly in celebrating formal experimentation; he discriminates against poetry that has recourse to what he calls a "superlatively contemptible" (265) language....   [tags: poetry william wordsworth matthew arnold]

Strong Essays
1868 words (5.3 pages)

Analysis Of Dover Beach By Matthew Arnold Essay

- Relationships can be a roller-coaster of emotions especially when time is changing as people know it and often times in those relationships the individuals handle the change in different ways resulting in relationships failing. Such is the case in “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold a poem that discusses a man’s fear of the changing world around him and how it could potentially affect his own personal relationship. However the poem is only told from one perspective leaving the audience to infer that the person he is talking to agrees with his ideas....   [tags: Interpersonal relationship, Love, Matthew Arnold]

Strong Essays
861 words (2.5 pages)

Aristotle 's Poetics Of The World And The Way It Can Be Analyzed Essay

- Aristotle’s Poetics consists in collection of notes trying to describe different artistic categories related to words (poetry). Even if the chapters about comedy were never founded, propositions articulated in these notes, after taken as canonical, have had a strong impact in differentiating aesthetic genres, establishing their boundaries. The way Aristotle approached arts that rely on verbal language has also several implications for the conception of the role of literature in the world and the way it can be analyzed....   [tags: Character, Drama, Aristotle, Poetics]

Strong Essays
990 words (2.8 pages)

Aristotle 's Poetics And Poetics Essay

- “What is poetry?” Aristotle starts his Poetics book with this enchanting question. After reading Aristotle’s Poetics I began to think about poetry. Poetry to me is an art and art comes in very many different intermingled objects and ideas. After discussing what is art in my Fysem class and reading about it in Poetics, I will discuss in my paper what I think is art. Even though Aristotle’s Poetics is a lot about poetry, poetry is art and there are tons of properties the reader can use in any type of art based off of Aristotle’s Poetics....   [tags: Art, Aesthetics, Music, Aristotle]

Strong Essays
1322 words (3.8 pages)

Perceptions in Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach Essay

- Perceptions in Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach Matthew Arnold’s “Dover beach” describe the way in which perceptions are mislead society. The use of metaphors, symbolisms, allusiveness, technical quantities, and imagery assist the speaker’s thought regards between what is seen and what is real. Dover beach was written during Victorian era. Which brought civilization based on industry, value and money. This is the time which people start questioning the existence of God. The speaker observed the plight of Victorian era....   [tags: Matthew Arnold Dover Beach Essays]

Strong Essays
1173 words (3.4 pages)

Aristotle's Poetics: Complexity and Pleasure in Tragedy Essay

- Aristotle's Poetics: Complexity and Pleasure in Tragedy Aristotle 384-322 BC First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. We have evidence of this in the facts of experience. Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute fidelity Poetics Chapter 1V In his Poetics [1] Aristotle classifies plot into two types: simple [haplos], and complex [peplegmenos]....   [tags: Aristotle Poetics Essays]

Strong Essays
2113 words (6 pages)

Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach Essay

- Matthew Arnold's 'Dover Beach' Matthew Arnold's 'Dover Beach' employs the sounds of language in three ways, through onomatopoeia to aurally represent the actions occurring on the beach, a varying meter which mirrors the varying heights of the waves on the beach, and a rhyme scheme which searches for its identity. In each stanza of the poem when the sounds of language are chaotic, the visual descriptions in the poem are tranquil, but when the visual descriptions are chaotic, the sounds of language become tranquil....   [tags: Matthew Arnold Dover Beach Essays Poem]

Strong Essays
1585 words (4.5 pages)

The Relevance of Aristotle’s Poetics to the World Today Essay

- The Relevance of Aristotle’s Poetics to the World Today      The Canadian novelist Michael Ondaatje, in his last novel titled In the Skin of a Lion, wrote that "the first sentence of every novel should be: Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human" (Ondaatje 223).  Ondaatje noted that what makes a novel a novel is order or, as that order is sometimes referred to today, plot and structure.  It is that structure that we, as both the audience and the artist, rely on to understand and appreciate a work of art.  But, even though Ondaatje noticed the order necessary, he did not do what has been done before--offer an explanation, or rather, a definition of tha...   [tags: Aristotle Poetics Essays]

Strong Essays
1161 words (3.3 pages)

Aging in Matthew Arnold's Growning Old and Robert Browning's Rabbi Ben Ezra

- Aging in Matthew Arnold's Growning Old and Robert Browning's Rabbi Ben Ezra   Contemporaries of the Victorian Age, Matthew Arnold and Robert Browning wrote the poems, "Growning Old" and "Rabbi Ben Ezra," respectively, to express their views on aging. Arnold suffers tremendously, for he lives in melancholy solitude with his deteriorating body, helpless in his moral and physical pain. Browning, a happier man, finds much joy in his age and comfort in the moral and spiritual strength which God gives him....   [tags: Matthew Arnold Growning Old Essays]

Free Essays
1927 words (5.5 pages)

Essay about The Beautiful in Kant's Third Critique and Aristotle's Poetics

- The Beautiful in Kant's Third Critique and Aristotle's Poetics ABSTRACT: I argue that Kant's analysis of the experience of the beautiful in the third Critique entails an implicit or potential experience of the sublime, that is, the sublime as he himself describes it. Finding the sublime in the beautiful is what I call philosophical beauty. I then consider some aspects of Aristotle's analysis of tragedy in the Poetics, specifically his identification of the key elements of tragedy as those involving the experience of fear and pity, which leads to a catharsis of these emotions....   [tags: Kant Third Critique Aristotle Poetics Essays]

Strong Essays
3443 words (9.8 pages)