Aristotle
Tragedy and the Tragic Hero
Aristotle’s Life
• Student of the
philosopher Plato
• Teacher to
Alexander the
Great
• Divided
philosophical
thought into ethics,
physics, and logic
A General Definition of Tragedy
• Any serious and dignified drama that
describes a conflict between the
hero(protagonist) and a superior
force(antagonist), and reaches a sorrowful
conclusion that arouses pity or fear in the
audience(catharsis).
Aristotle’s Definition of Tragedy
• Tragedy 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;
through pity and fear effecting the proper
purgation of these emotions.
Aristotle’s Poetics: Basic
Concepts
• Complex plots are better than simple ones
• Suffering is to be included in a tragic plot
which should end unhappily.
• The pity and fear from which the tragedy
evokes, should come from the events, not
from the mere sight of something on stage.
Recognition and Reversal
• Recognition is a
change from ignorance
to knowledge.
• The new knowledge
often identifies an
unknown relative or
dear one whom the
hero should cherish
but was about to harm
or has just harmed.
• Reversal is a change
of a situation to its
opposite.
Characteristics of the Tragic Hero.
The Character…
• Is not all good or bad
• Is of the noble class or
highly renowned and
prosperous
• Has a tragic flaw
• Recognizes his error
and accepts the
consequences
• Arouses the audience’s
pity and fear
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Aristotle