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Aristotle: Poetics The Poetics of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) is a much-disdained book !

o un"oetic a soul as Aristotle#s has no business s"eakin$ about such a to"ic% much less tellin$ "oets ho& to $o about their business 'e reduces the drama to its lan$ua$e% "eo"le sa(% and the lan$ua$e itself to its least "oetic element% the stor(% and then he encoura$es insensiti)e readers like himself to sub*ect stories to crudel( moralistic readin$s% that reduce tra$edies to the childish "ro"ortions of Aeso"-fables !tran$el(% thou$h% the Poetics itself is rarel( read &ith the kind of sensiti)it( its critics claim to "ossess% and the thin$ critici+ed is not the book Aristotle &rote but a caricature of it Aristotle himself res"ected 'omer so much that he "ersonall( corrected a co"( of the ,liad for his student Ale-ander% &ho carried it all o)er the &orld ,n his .hetoric (,,,% -)i% /)% Aristotle critici+es orators &ho &rite e-clusi)el( from the intellect% rather than from the heart% in the &a( !o"hocles makes Anti$one s"eak Aristotle is often thou$ht of as a lo$ician% but he re$ularl( uses the ad)erb lo$ik0s% lo$icall(% as a term of re"roach contrasted &ith "husik0s% naturall( or a""ro"riatel(% to describe ar$uments made b( others% or "reliminar( and inade1uate ar$uments of his o&n Those &ho take the trouble to look at the Poetics closel( &ill find% , think% a book that treats its to"ic a""ro"riatel( and naturall(% and contains the reflections of a $ood reader and characteristicall( "o&erful thinker 1. Poetry as Imitation The first scandal in the Poetics is the initial markin$ out of dramatic "oetr( as a form of imitation 2e call the "oet a creator% and are offended at the su$$estion that he mi$ht be merel( some sort of recordin$ de)ice As the "ainter#s e(e teaches us ho& to look and sho&s us &hat &e ne)er sa&% the dramatist "resents thin$s that ne)er e-isted until he ima$ined them% and makes us e-"erience &orlds &e could ne)er ha)e found the &a( to on our o&n But Aristotle has no intention to diminish the "oet% and in fact sa(s the same thin$ , *ust said% in makin$ the "oint that "oetr( is more "hiloso"hic than histor( B( imitation% Aristotle does not mean the sort of mimicr( b( &hich Aristo"hanes% sa(% finds s(llables that a""ro-imate the sound of fro$s 'e is s"eakin$ of the imitation of action% and b( action he does not mean mere ha""enin$s Aristotle s"eaks e-tensi)el( of "ra-is in the 3icomachean Ethics ,t is not a &ord he uses loosel(% and in fact his use of it in the definition of tra$ed( recalls the discussion in the Ethics Action% as Aristotle uses the &ord% refers onl( to &hat is deliberatel( chosen% and ca"able of findin$ com"letion in the achie)ement of some "ur"ose Animals and (oun$ children do not act in this sense% and action is not the &hole of the life of an( of us The "oet must ha)e an e(e for the emer$ence of action in human life% and a sense for the actions that are &orth "a(in$ attention to The( are not "resent in the &orld in such a &a( that a )ideo camera could detect them An intelli$ent% feelin$% sha"in$ human soul must find them B( the same token% the action of the drama itself is not on the sta$e ,t takes form and has its bein$ in the ima$ination of the s"ectator The actors s"eak and mo)e and $esture% but it is the "oet &ho s"eaks throu$h them% from ima$ination to ima$ination% to "resent to us the thin$ that he has made Because that thin$ he makes has the form of an action% it has to be seen and held to$ether *ust as acti)el( and attenti)el( b( us as b( him The imitation is the thin$ that is re-"roduced% in us and for us% b( his art This is a "o&erful kind of human communication% and the thin$ imitated is &hat defines the human realm ,f no one had the "o&er to imitate action% life mi$ht *ust &ash o)er us &ithout lea)in$ an( trace 'o& do , kno& that Aristotle intends the imitation of action to be understood in this &a(4 ,n De Anima% he distin$uishes three kinds of "erce"tion (,,% 56 ,,,% 3) There is the "erce"tion of "ro"er sensibles-colors% sounds% tastes and so on6 these lie on the surfaces of thin$s and can be mimicked directl( for sense "erce"tion But there is also "erce"tion of common sensibles% a)ailable to more than one of our senses% as sha"e is $ras"ed b( both si$ht and touch% or number b( all fi)e senses6 these are distin$uished b( ima$ination% the "o&er in us that is shared b( the fi)e senses% and in &hich the circular sha"e% for instance% is not de"endent on si$ht or touch alone These common sensibles can be mimicked in )arious &a(s% as &hen , dra& a mess(% meanderin$ rid$e of chalk on a blackboard% and (our ima$ination $ras"s a circle 7inall(% there is the "erce"tion of that of &hich the sensible 1ualities are attributes% the thin$8the son of 9iares% for e-am"le6 it is this that &e ordinaril( mean b( "erce"tion% and &hile its ob*ect al&a(s has an ima$e in the ima$ination% it can onl( be distin$uished b( intellect% no:s (,,,%4) !killed mimics can imitate "eo"le &e kno&% b( )oice% $esture% and so on% and here alread( &e must en$a$e intelli$ence and ima$ination to$ether The dramatist imitates thin$s more remote from the e(e and ear than familiar "eo"le !o"hocles and !hakes"eare% for e-am"le% imitate re"entance and for$i)eness% true instances of action in Aristotle#s sense of the &ord% and &e need all the human "o&ers to reco$ni+e &hat these "oets "ut before us !o the mere "hrase imitation of an action is "acked &ith meanin$% a)ailable to us as soon as &e ask &hat an action is% and ho& the ima$e of such a thin$ mi$ht be "ercei)ed Aristotle does understand tra$ed( as a de)elo"ment out of the child#s mimicr( of animal noises% but that is in the same &a( that he understands "hiloso"h( as a de)elo"ment out of our en*o(ment of si$ht-seein$ (;eta"h(sics ,% <) ,n each of these de)elo"ments there is a )ast arra( of "ossible intermediate sta$es% but *ust as "hiloso"h( is the ultimate form of the innate desire to kno&% tra$ed( is considered b( Aristotle the ultimate form of our innate deli$ht in imitation 'is belo)ed 'omer sa& and achie)ed the most im"ortant "ossibilities of the imitation of human action% but it &as the tra$edians &ho% refined and intensified the form of that imitation% and disco)ered its "erfection 2. The Character of Tragedy A &ork is a tra$ed(% Aristotle tells us% onl( if it arouses "it( and fear 2h( does he sin$le out these t&o "assions4 !ome inter"reters think he means them onl( as e-am"les8"it( and fear and other "assions like that8but , am not amon$ those loose constructionists Aristotle does use a &ord that means "assions of that sort (toiouta)% but ,

think he does so onl( to indicate that "it( and fear are not themsel)es thin$s sub*ect to identification &ith "in-"oint "recision% but that each refers to a ran$e of feelin$ ,t is *ust the feelin$s in those t&o ran$es% ho&e)er% that belon$ to tra$ed( 2h(4 2h( shouldn#t some tra$ed( arouse "it( and *o(% sa(% and another fear and cruelt(4 ,n )arious "laces% Aristotle sa(s that it is the mark of an educated "erson to kno& &hat needs e-"lanation and &hat doesn#t 'e does not tr( to "ro)e that there is such a thin$ as nature% or such a thin$ as motion% thou$h some "eo"le den( both =ike&ise% he understands the reco$nition of a s"ecial and "o&erful form of drama built around "it( and fear as the be$innin$ of an in1uir(% and s"ends not one &ord *ustif(in$ that restriction 2e% ho&e)er% can see better &h( he starts there b( tr(in$ out a fe& sim"le alternati)es !u""ose a drama aroused "it( in a "o&erful &a(% but aroused no fear at all This is an easil( reco$ni+able dramatic form% called a tear-*erker The name is meant to dis"ara$e this sort of drama% but &h(4 ,ma$ine a &ell &ritten% &ell made "la( or mo)ie that de"icts the losin$ stru$$le of a likable central character 2e are mo)ed to ha)e a $ood cr(% and are afforded either the relief of a ha""( endin$% or the realistic desolation of a sad one ,n the one case the tension built u" alon$ the &a( is released &ithin the e-"erience of the &ork itself6 in the other it "asses off as &e lea)e the theater% and read*ust our feelin$s to the fact that it &as% after all% onl( make-belie)e 2hat is &ron$ &ith that4 There is al&a(s "leasure in stron$ emotion% and the theater is a harmless "lace to indul$e it 2e ma( e)en come out feelin$ $ood about bein$ so com"assionate But 9osto(e)ski de"icts a character &ho lo)es to cr( in the theater% not noticin$ that &hile she &allo&s in her &arm feelin$s her coach-dri)er is shi)erin$ outside !he has da(dreams about relie)in$ sufferin$ humanit(% but does nothin$ to "ut that )a$ue desire to &ork ,f she is t("ical% then the tear-*erker is a dishonest form of drama% not e)en a harmless di)ersion but an encoura$ement to lie to oneself 2ell then% let#s consider the o""osite e-"eriment% in &hich a drama arouses fear in a "o&erful &a(% but arouses little or no "it( This is a$ain a readil( reco$ni+able dramatic form% called the horror stor(% or in a recent fashion% the mad-slasher mo)ie The thrill of fear is the "rimar( ob*ect of such amusements% and the stor( alternates bet&een the build-u" of a""rehension and the shock of )iolence A$ain% as &ith the tear-*erker% it doesn#t much matter &hether it ends ha""il( or &ith uneasiness% or e)en &ith one last shock% so indeterminate is its form And &hile the tear*erker $i)es us an illusion of com"assionate delicac(% the unrestrained shock-drama ob)iousl( has the effect of coarsenin$ feelin$ >enuine human "it( could not co-e-ist &ith the so-called $ra"hic effects these films use to kee" scarin$ us The attraction of this kind of amusement is a$ain the thrill of stron$ feelin$% and a$ain the "rice of indul$in$ the desire for that thrill ma( be hi$h =et us consider a milder form of the drama built on arousin$ fear There are stories in &hich fearsome thin$s are threatened or done b( characters &ho are in the end defeated b( means similar to% or in some &a( e1ui)alent to% &hat the( dealt out The fear is relie)ed in )en$eance% and &e feel a satisfaction that &e mi$ht be inclined to call *ustice To &ork on the le)el of feelin$% thou$h% *ustice must be understood as the e-act in)erse of the crime8doin$ to the offender the sort of thin$ he did or meant to do to others The ima$ination of e)il then becomes the measure of $ood% or at least of the restoration of order The satisfaction &e feel in the )icarious infliction of "ain or death is nothin$ but a thin )eil o)er the )er( feelin$s &e mean to be "unishin$ This is a successful dramatic formula% arousin$ in us destructi)e desires that are fun to feel% alon$ &ith the self-ri$hteous illusion that &e are reall( su"erior to the character &ho dis"la(s them The "la(&ri$ht &ho makes us feel that &a( &ill "robabl( be "o"ular% but he is a menace 2e ha)e looked at three kinds of non-tra$ed( that arouse "assions in a destructi)e &a(% and &e could add others There are "otentiall( as man( kinds as there are "assions and combinations of "assions That su$$ests that the theater is *ust an arena for the mani"ulation of "assions in &a(s that are "leasant in the short run and at least reckless to "ursue re"eatedl( At &orst% the drama could be seen as dealin$ in a kind of addiction% &hich it both "roduces and holds the onl( remed( for But &e ha)e not (et tried to talk about the combination of "assions characteristic of tra$ed( 2hen &e turn from the sort of e-am"les , ha)e $i)en% to the ackno&led$ed e-am"les of tra$ed(% &e find oursel)es in a different &orld The tra$edians , ha)e in mind are fi)e: Aesch(lus% !o"hocles% and Euri"ides6 !hakes"eare% &ho differs from them onl( in time6 and 'omer% &ho differs from them some&hat more% in the form in &hich he com"osed% but shares &ith them the thin$s that matter most , could add other authors% such as 9osto(e)ski% &ho &rote stories of the tra$ic kind in much looser literar( forms% but , &ant to kee" the focus on a small number of clear "aradi$ms 2hen &e look at a tra$ed( &e find the chorus in Anti$one tellin$ us &hat a stran$e thin$ a human bein$ is% that "asses be(ond all boundaries (lines 332 ff )% or ?in$ =ear askin$ if man is no more than this% a "oor% bare% forked animal (,,,% i)% /@ff )% or ;acbeth "rotestin$ to his &ife A, dare do all that ma( become a man6 &ho dares do more is noneB (,% )ii% 4@-8)% or Cedi"us tauntin$ Teiresias &ith the fact that di)ine art &as of no use a$ainst the !"hin-% but onl( Cedi"us# o&n human in$enuit( (Ced T(r 3/D/8)% or A$amemnon% resistin$ &alkin$ home on ta"estries% sa(in$ to his &ife A, tell (ou to re)ere me as a man% not a $odB (/2E)% or Cadmus in the Bacchae sa(in$ A, am a man% nothin$ moreB (<//)% &hile 9ion(sus tells Fentheus AGou do not kno& &hat (ou areB (ED5)% or Fatroclus tellin$ Achilles AFeleus &as not (our father nor Thetis (our mother% but the $ra( sea bore (ou% and the to&erin$ rocks% so hard is (our heartB (,liadHI,% 33E ) , could add more e-am"les of this kind b( the do+en% and (our memories &ill su""l( others Tra$ed( seems al&a(s to in)ol)e testin$ or findin$ the limits of &hat is human This is no mere or$( of stron$ feelin$% but a hi$hl( focussed &a( of brin$in$ our "o&ers to bear on the ima$e of &hat is human as such , su$$est that Aristotle is ri$ht in sa(in$ that the "o&ers &hich first of all brin$ this human ima$e to si$ht for us are "it( and fear

,t is ob)ious that the authors in our e-am"les are not *ust "uttin$ thin$s in front of us to make us cr( or shi)er or $as" The feelin$s the( arouse are subordinated to another effect Aristotle be$ins b( sa(in$ that tra$ed( arouses "it( and fear in such a &a( as to culminate in a cleansin$ of those "assions% the famous catharsis The &ord is used b( Aristotle onl( the once% in his "reliminar( definition of tra$ed( , think this is because its role is taken o)er later in the Poetics b( another% more "ositi)e% &ord% but the idea of catharsis is im"ortant in itself% and &e should consider &hat it mi$ht mean 3. Tragic Catharsis 7irst of all% the tra$ic catharsis mi$ht be a "ur$ation 7ear can ob)iousl( be an insidious thin$ that undermines life and "oisons it &ith an-iet( ,t &ould be $ood to flush this feelin$ from our s(stems% brin$ it into the o"en% and clear the air This ma( e-"lain the a""eal of horror mo)ies% that the( redirect our fears to&ard somethin$ e-ternal% $rotes1ue% and finall( ridiculous% in order to "uncture them Cn the other hand% fear mi$ht ha)e a secret allure% so that &hat &e need to "ur$e is the desire for the thrill that comes &ith fear The horror mo)ie also "ro)ides a safe &a( to indul$e and satisf( the lon$in$ to feel afraid% and $o home after&ard satisfied6 the desire is "ur$ed% tem"oraril(% b( bein$ fed Cur souls are so man(-headed that o""osite satisfactions ma( be felt at the same time% but , think these t&o reall( are o""osite ,n the first sense of "ur$ation% the horror mo)ie is a kind of medicine that does its &ork and lea)es the soul healthier% &hile in the second sense it is a "otentiall( addicti)e dru$ Either e-"lanation ma( account for the "o"ularit( of these mo)ies amon$ teena$ers% since fear is so much a fact of that time of life 7or those of us &ho are older% the tear-*erker ma( ha)e more a""eal% offerin$ a &a( to "ur$e the re$rets of our li)es in a sentimental out"ourin$ of "it( As &ith fear% this "ur$ation too ma( be either medicinal or dru$-like This idea of "ur$ation% in its )arious forms% is &hat &e usuall( mean &hen &e call somethin$ cathartic Feo"le s"eak of &atchin$ football% or bo-in$% as a catharsis of )iolent ur$es% or call a shoutin$ match &ith a friend a useful catharsis of buried resentment This is a "ractical "ur"ose that drama ma( also ser)e% but it has no "articular connection &ith beaut( or truth6 to be $ood in this "ur$ati)e &a(% a drama has no need to be $ood in an( other &a( 3o one &ould be tem"ted to confuse the feelin$ at the end of a horror mo)ie &ith &hat Aristotle calls Athe tra$ic "leasure%B nor to call such a mo)ie a tra$ed( But the En$lish &ord catharsis does not contain e)er(thin$ that is in the >reek &ord =et us look at other thin$s it mi$ht mean Catharsis in >reek can mean "urification 2hile "ur$in$ somethin$ means $ettin$ rid of it% "urif(in$ somethin$ means $ettin$ rid of the &orse or baser "arts of it ,t is "ossible that tra$ed( "urifies the feelin$s themsel)es of fear and "it( These arise in us in crude &a(s% attached to all sorts of ob*ects Ferha"s the "oet educates our sensibilities% our "o&ers to feel and be mo)ed% b( refinin$ them and attachin$ them to less easil( discernible ob*ects There is a line in The 2asteland% A, &ill sho& (ou fear in a handful of dust B Alfred 'itchcock once made us all feel a little shudder &hen &e took sho&ers The "oetic ima$ination is limited onl( b( its skill% and can turn an( ob*ect into a focus for an( feelin$ !ome "eo"le turn to "oetr( to find delicious and e-1uisite ne& &a(s to feel old feelin$s% and consider themsel)es to enter in that &a( into a "urified state ,t has been ar$ued that this sort of thin$ is &hat tra$ed( and the tra$ic "leasure are all about% but it doesn#t match u" &ith m( e-"erience !o"hocles does make me fear and "it( human kno&led$e &hen , &atch the Cedi"us T(rannus% but this is not a refinement of those feelin$s but a disco)er( that the( belon$ to a sur"risin$ ob*ect !o"hocles is not trainin$ m( feelin$s% but usin$ them to sho& me somethin$ &orth( of &onder The &ord catharsis dro"s out of the Poetics because the &ord &onder% to rhaumaston% re"laces it% first in cha"ter /% &here Aristotle ar$ues that "it( and fear arise most of all &here &onder does% and finall( in cha"ters 24 and 2E% &here he sin$les out &onder as the aim of the "oetic art itself% into &hich the aim of tra$ed( in "articular mer$es Ask (ourself ho& (ou feel at the end of a tra$ed( Gou ha)e &itnessed horrible thin$s and felt "ainful feelin$s% but the mark of tra$ed( is that it brin$s (ou out the other side Aristotle#s use of the &ord catharsis is not a technical reference to "ur$ation or "urification but a beautiful meta"hor for the "eculiar tra$ic "leasure% the feelin$ of bein$ &ashed or cleansed The tra$ic "leasure is a "arado- As Aristotle sa(s% in a tra$ed(% a ha""( endin$ doesn#t make us ha""( At the end of the "la( the sta$e is often littered &ith bodies% and &e feel cleansed b( it all Are &e like Cl(temnestra% &ho sa(s she re*oiced &hen s"attered b( her husband#s blood% like the earth in a !"rin$ rain (A$ <38/-/2)4 Are &e like ,a$o% &ho has to see a beautiful life destro(ed to feel better about himself (Cth I% i% <8-2D)4 2e all feel a certain $lee in the brin$in$ lo& of the mi$ht(% but this is in no &a( similar to the feelin$ of bein$ &ashed in &onderment The closest thin$ , kno& to the feelin$ at the end of a tra$ed( is the one that comes &ith the sudden% une-"ected a""earance of somethin$ beautiful ,n a famous essa( on beaut( (Ennead ,% tractate 5)% Flotinus sa(s t&o thin$s that seem true to me: AClearl( Jbeaut(K is somethin$ detected at a first $lance% somethin$ that the soulL reco$ni+es% $i)es &elcome to% and% in a &a(% fuses &ithB (be$innin$ sec 2) 2hat is the effect on us of this reco$nition4 Flotinus sa(s that in e)er( instance it is Aan astonishment% a delicious &ondermentB (end sec 4) Aristotle is insistent that a tra$ed( must be &hole and one% because onl( in that &a( can it be beautiful% &hile he also ascribes the su"eriorit( of tra$ed( o)er e"ic "oetr( to its $reater unit( and concentration (ch 25) Tra$ed( is not *ust a dramatic form in &hich some &orks are beautiful and others not6 tra$ed( is itself a s"ecies of beaut( All tra$edies are beautiful B( follo&in$ Aristotle#s lead% &e ha)e no& found fi)e marks of tra$ed(: (<) it imitates an action% (2) it arouses "it( and fear% (3) it dis"la(s the human ima$e as such% (4) it ends in &onder% and (E) it is inherentl( beautiful 2e noticed earlier that it is action that characteri+es the distincti)el( human realm% and it is reasonable that the

de"iction of an action mi$ht sho& us a human bein$ in some definiti)e &a(% but &hat do "it( and fear ha)e to do &ith that sho&in$4 The ans&er is e)er(thin$ 4. Tragic Pity 7irst% let us consider &hat tra$ic "it( consists in The &ord "it( tends to ha)e a bad name these da(s% and to im"l( an attitude of condescension that diminishes its ob*ect This is not a matter of the meanin$s of &ords% or e)en of chan$in$ attitudes ,t belon$s to "it( itself to be t&o-sided% since an( feelin$ of em"ath( can be $i)en a "er)erse t&ist b( the reco$nition that it is not oneself but another &ith &hom one is feelin$ a shared "ain Cne of the most em"athetic characters in all literature is Ed$ar in ?in$ =ear 'e describes himself trul( as Aa most "oor man% made tame to fortune#s blo&s% 2ho% b( the art of kno&n and feelin$ sorro&s% Am "re$nant to $ood "it(B (,I% )i% 2<@-</) T&o of his lines s"oken to his father are "o&erful e)idence of the insi$ht that comes from sufferin$ oneself and takin$ on the sufferin$ of others: ATh( life#s a miracleB (,I% )i% E E )% he sa(s% and A.i"eness is allB (I% ii% <<)% tr(in$ to hel" his father see that life is still $ood and death is not somethin$ to be sou$ht Get in the last scene of the "la( this same Ed$ar )oices the stu"idest &ords e)er s"oken in an( tra$ed(% &hen he concludes that his father *ust $ot &hat he deser)ed &hen he lost his e(es% since he had once committed adulter( (I% iii% <@<-4) 'a)in$ &itnessed the "la(% &e kno& that >loucester lost his e(es because he chose to hel" =ear% &hen the kin$dom had become so corru"t that his act of kindness a""eared as a &alkin$ fire in a dark &orld (,<,% i)% <D@) There is a chain of effects from >loucester#s adulter( to his mutilation% but it is not a se1uence that re)eals the true cause of that horror The &holeness of action that !hakes"eare sha"es for us sho&s that >loucester#s $oodness% dis"la(ed in a coura$eous% deliberate choice% and not his &eakness man( (ears earlier% cost him his e(es Ed$ar ends b( $i)in$ in to the tem"tation to morali+e% to chase after the Afatal fla&B &hich is no "art of tra$ed(% and loses his ca"acit( to see strai$ht This su$$ests that holdin$ on to "ro"er "it( leads to seein$ strai$ht% and that seems e-actl( ri$ht But &hat is "ro"er "it(4 There is a &a( of missin$ the mark that is o""osite to condescension% and that is the e-cess of "it( called sentimentalit( There are "eo"le &ho use the &ord sentimental for an( dis"la( of feelin$% or an( takin$ seriousl( of feelin$% but their attitude is as blind as Ed$ar#s !entimentalit( is inordinate feelin$% feelin$ that $oes be(ond the source that $i)es rise to it The &oman in 9osto(e)ski#s no)el &ho lo)es "it(in$ for its o&n sake is an e-am"le of this )ice But bet&een Ed$ar#s morali+in$ and her $ushin$ there is a ran$e of a""ro"riate "it( Fit( is one of the instruments b( &hich a "oet can sho& us &hat &e are 2e "it( the loss of >loucester#s e(es because &e kno& the )alue of e(es% but more dee"l(% &e "it( the )iolation of >loucester#s decenc(% and in so doin$ &e feel the truth that &ithout such decenc(% and &ithout res"ect for it% there is no human life !hakes"eare is in control here% and the feelin$ he "roduces does not $i)e &a( in embarrassment to moral *ud$ment% nor does it make us &allo& mindlessl( in "it( because it feels so $ood6 the "it( he arouses in us sho&s us &hat is "recious in us% in the act of its bein$ )iolated in another 5. Tragic Fear and the Image of Humanity !ince e)er( boundar( has t&o sides% the human ima$e is delineated also from the outside% the side of the thin$s that threaten it This is sho&n to us throu$h the feelin$ of fear As Aristotle sa(s t&ice in the.hetoric% &hat &e "it( in others% &e fear for oursel)es (<382b 25% <385a 2@) ,n our mountin$ fear that Cedi"us &ill come to kno& the truth about himself% &e feel that somethin$ of our o&n is threatened Tra$ic fear% e-actl( like tra$ic "it(% and either "recedin$ it or simultaneous &ith it% sho&s us &hat &e are and are un&illin$ to lose ,t makes no sense to sa( that Cedi"us# "assion for truth is a fla&% since that is the )er( 1ualit( that makes us afraid on his behalf Tra$ed( is ne)er about fla&s% and it is onl( the silliest of mistranslations that "uts that claim in Aristotle#s mouth Tra$ed( is about central and indis"ensable human attributes% disclosed to us b( the "it( that dra&s us to&ard them and the fear that makes us recoil from &hat threatens them Because the sufferin$ of the tra$ic fi$ure dis"la(s the boundaries of &hat is human% e)er( tra$ed( carries the sense of uni)ersalit( Cedi"us or Anti$one or =ear or Cthello is someho& e)er( one of us% onl( more so But the mere mention of these names makes it ob)ious that the( are not $enerali+ed characters% but alto$ether "articular And if &e did not feel that the( &ere $enuine indi)iduals% the( &ould ha)e no "o&er to en$a$e our emotions ,t is b( their "articularit( that the( make their marks on us% as thou$h &e had encountered them in the flesh ,t is onl( throu$h the "articularit( of our feelin$s that our bonds &ith them emer$e 2hat &e care for and cherish makes us "it( them and fear for them% and thereb( the re)erse also ha""ens: our feelin$s of "it( and fear make us reco$ni+e &hat &e care for and cherish 2hen the tra$ic fi$ure is destro(ed it is a "iece of oursel)es that is lost Get &e ne)er feel desolation at the end of a tra$ed(% because &hat is lost is also% b( the )er( same means% found , am not tr(in$ to make a "arado-% but to describe a mar)el ,t is not so stran$e that &e learn the &orth of somethin$ b( losin$ it6 &hat is astonishin$ is &hat the tra$edians are able to achie)e b( makin$ use of that common e-"erience The( lift it u" into a state of &onder 2ithin our small $rou" of e-em"lar( "oetic &orks% there are t&o that do not ha)e the tra$ic form% and hence do not concentrate all their "o&er into "uttin$ us in a state of &onder% but also de"ict the state of &onder amon$ their characters and contain s"eeches that reflect on it The( are 'omer#s ,liad and !hakes"eare#s Tem"est (,ncidentall(% there is an e-cellent small book called 2oe or 2onder% the Emotional Effect of !hakes"earean Tra$ed(% b( M I Cunnin$ham% that demonstrates the continuit( of the traditional understandin$ of tra$ed( from Aristotle to !hakes"eare ) The first "oem in our literar( herita$e% and !hakes"eare#s last "la(% both belon$ to a con)ersation of &hich Aristotle#s Poetics is the most "rominent "art

6. The Iliad the Tem!est and Tragic "onder ,n both the ,liad and the Tem"est there are characters &ith arts that in some &a(s resemble that of the "oet ,t is much noticed that Fros"ero#s fare&ell to his art coincides &ith !hakes"eare#s o&n% but it ma( be less ob)ious that 'omer has "ut into the ,liad a "artial re"resentation of himself But the last <ED lines of Book HI,,, of the ,liad describe the makin$ of a &ork of art b( 'e"haestus , &ill not consider here &hat is de"icted on the shield of Achilles% but onl( the meanin$ in the "oem of the shield itself ,n Book HI,,,% Achilles has reali+ed &hat mattered most to him &hen it is too late The >reeks are dri)en back to their shi"s% as Achilles had "ra(ed the( &ould be% and kno& that the( are lost &ithout him ABut &hat "leasure is this to me no&%B he sa(s to his mother% A&hen m( belo)ed friend is dead% Fatroclus% &hom , cherished be(ond all friends% as the e1ual of m( o&n soul6 , am bereft of himB (8D82) Those last &ords also mean A, ha)e killed him B ,n his desolation% Achilles has at last chosen to act A, &ill acce"t m( doom%B he sa(s (<<E ) Thetis $oes to 'e"haestus because% in s"ite of his resol)e% Achilles has no armor in &hich to meet his fate !he tells her son#s stor(% concludin$ Ahe is l(in$ on the $round% an$uishin$ at heartB (45<) 'er last &ord% an$uishin$% acheu0n% is built on Achilles# name 3o& listen to &hat 'e"haestus sa(s in re"l(: ATake coura$e% and do not let these thin$s distress (ou in (our heart 2ould that , had the "o&er to hide him far a&a( from death and the sounds of $rief &hen $rim fate comes to him% but , can see that beautiful armor surrounds him% of such a kind that man( "eo"le% one after another% &ho look on it% &ill &onderB (453-5@) ,s it not e)ident that this source of &onder that surrounds Achilles% that takes the stin$ from his death e)en in a mother#s heart% is the ,liaditself4 But ho& does the ,liad accom"lish this4 =et us shift our attention for a moment to the Tem"est The character Alonso% in the "o&er of the ma$ician Fros"ero% s"ends the len$th of the "la( in the illusion that his son has dro&ned To ha)e him ali)e a$ain% Alonso sa(s% A, &ish ;(self &ere mudded in that oo+( bed 2here m( son liesB (I% i% <ED-2) But he has alread( been there for three hours in his ima$ination6 he sa(s earlier Am( son i# th# oo+e is bedded6 and ,#ll seek him dee"er than e#er "lummet sounded And &ith him there lie muddedB (,,,% iii% <DD-2) 2hat is this mudd( oo+e4 ,t is Alonso#s $rief% and his re$ret for e-"osin$ his son to dan$er% and his self-re"roach for his o&n "ast crime a$ainst Fros"ero and Fros"ero#s bab( dau$hter% &hich made his son a *ust tar$et for di)ine retribution6 the oo+e is Alonso#s re"entance% &hich feels futile to him since it onl( comes after he has lost the thin$ he cares most about But the s"irit Ariel sin$s a son$ to Alonso#s son: A7ull fathom fi)e th( father lies6 Cf his bones are coral made6 Those are "earls that &ere his e(es6 3othin$ of him that doth fade But doth suffer a sea chan$e ,nto somethin$ rich and stran$eB (,% ii% 3/@-4D2) Alonso#s $rief is aroused b( an illusion% an imitation of an action% but his re"entance is real% and is slo&l( transformin$ him into a different man 2ho is this ne& man4 =et us take counsel from the Ahonest old councilorB >on+alo% &ho al&a(s has the clearest si$ht in the "la( 'e tells us that on this )o(a$e% &hen so much seemed lost% e)er( tra)eller found himself A2hen no man &as his o&nB (I% i% 2D5-<3) The somethin$ rich and stran$e into &hich Alonso chan$es is himself% as he &as before his life took a &ron$ turn Fros"ero#s ma$ic does no more than arrest "eo"le in a "otent illusion6 in his "o&er the( are Aknit u" ,n their distractionsB (,,,% iii% 8/-/D) 2hen released% he sa(s% Athe( shall be themsel)esB (I% i% 32) Cn )irtuall( e)er( "a$e of the Tem"est% the &ord &onder a""ears% or else some s(non(m for it ;iranda#s name is =atin for &onder% her fa)orite ad*ecti)e bra)e seems to mean both $ood and out-of-the-ordinar(% and the combination rich and stran$e means the same 2hat is &onder4 M I Cunnin$ham describes it in the book , mentioned as the shocked limit of all feelin$% in &hich fear% sorro&% and *o( can all mer$e There is some truth in that% but it misses &hat is &onderful or &ondrous about &onder ,t su$$ests that in &onder our feelin$s are numbed and &e are left lim"% &run$ dr( of all emotion But &onder is itself a feelin$% the one to &hich ;iranda is al&a(s $i)in$ )oice% the "o&erful sense that &hat is before one is both stran$e and $ood 2onder does not numb the other feelin$s6 &hat it does is dislod$e them from their habitual moorin$s The e-"erience of &onder is the disclosure of a si$ht or thou$ht or ima$e that fits no habitual conte-t of feelin$ or understandin$% but $rabs and holds us b( a "o&er borro&ed from nothin$ a"art from itself The t&o thin$s that Flotinus sa(s characteri+e beaut(% that the soul reco$ni+es it at first $lance and s"ontaneousl( $i)es &elcome to it% e1uall( describe the e-"erience of &onder The beautiful al&a(s "roduces &onder% if it is seen as beautiful% and the sense of &onder al&a(s sees beaut( But are there reall( no &onders that are u$l(4 The monstrosities that used to be e-hibited in circus sidesho&s are &onders too% are the( not4 ,n the Tem"est% three characters think first of all of such s"ectacles &hen the( la( e(es on Caliban (,,% ii% 28-3<6 I% i% 253-5)% but the( are inca"able of &onder% since the( think the( kno& e)er(thin$ that matters alread( A fourth character in the same batch% &ho is drunk but not insensible% $i)es &a( at the end of Act ,, to the sense that this is not *ust someone stran$e and deformed% nor *ust a useful ser)ant% but a bra)e monster But !te"hano is not like the holida( fools &ho "a( to see monstrosities like t&o-headed cal)es or e-otic si$hts like &ild men of Borneo , recall an a1uarium some&here in Euro"e that had on dis"la( an astoundin$l( u$l( catfish Feo"le came casuall( u" to its tank% &ere startled% made noises of dis$ust% and turned a&a( E)en to be arrested before such a si$ht feels in some &a( "er)erse and has some conflict in the feelin$ it arouses% as &hen &e stare at the )ictims of a car &reck The si$ht of the u$l( or dis$ustin$% &hen it is felt as such% does not ha)e the settled re"ose or &illin$ surrender that are characteristic of &onder A2onder is s&eet%B as Aristotle sa(s This s&eet contem"lation of somethin$ outside us is e-actl( o""osite to Alonso#s "ainful immersion in his o&n remorse% but in e)er( other res"ect he is a model of the s"ectator of a tra$ed( 2e are in the "o&er of another for a&hile% the si$ht of an illusion &orks real and durable chan$es in us% &e mer$e into somethin$ rich and stran$e% and &hat &e find b( bein$ absorbed in the ima$e of another is oursel)es As Alonso is sho&n a mirror of his soul b( Fros"ero% &e are sho&n a mirror of oursel)es in Alonso% but in that mirror &e see oursel)es as &e are not in

&itnessin$ the Tem"est% but in &itnessin$ a tra$ed( TheTem"est is a beautiful "la(% suffused &ith &onder as &ell as &ith reflections on &onder% but it holds the intensit( of the tra$ic e-"erience at a distance 'omer% on the other hand% has "ulled off a feat e)en more astoundin$ than !hakes"eare#s% b( imitatin$ the e-"erience of a s"ectator of tra$ed( &ithin a stor( that itself &orks on us as a tra$ed( ,n Book HH,I of the ,liad% forms of the &ord tham bos% ama+ement% occur three times in three lines (4824)% &hen Friam suddenl( a""ears in the hut of Achilles and Akisses the terrible man-slau$hterin$ hands that killed his man( sonsB (4@8-/)% but this is onl( the "relude to the true &onder Achilles and Friam cr( to$ether% each for his o&n $rief% as each has cried so often before% but this time a miracle ha""ens Achilles# $rief is transformed into satisfaction% and cleansed from his chest and his hands (E<3-<4) This is all the more remarkable% since Achilles has for da(s been re"eatedl( tr(in$ to take out his ra$in$ $rief on 'ector#s dead bod( The famous first &ord of the ,liad% mNnis% &rath% has come back at the be$innin$ of Book HH,I in the "artici"le meneain0n (22)% a constant condition that =attimore translates &ell as Astandin$ fur( B But all this hardened ra$e e)a"orates in one lamentation% *ust because Achilles shares it &ith his enem(#s father 'ermes had told Friam to a""eal to Achilles in the names of his father% his mother% and his child% Ain order to stir his heartB (455-@)% but Friam#s focussed miser( $oes strai$ht to Achilles# heart &ithout dilutin$ the effect The first &ords out of Friam#s mouth are Aremember (our fatherB (485) Gour father deser)es "it(% Friam sa(s% so A"it( me &ith him in mind% since , am more "itiful e)en than he6 , ha)e dared &hat no other mortal on earth e)er dared% to stretch out m( li"s to the hand of the man &ho murdered m( childrenB (ED3-4) Achilles had been "it(in$ Fatroclus% but mainl( himself% but the feelin$ to &hich Friam has directed him no& is e-actl( the same as tra$ic "it( Achilles is lookin$ at a human bein$ &ho has chosen to $o to the limits of &hat is humanl( "ossible to search for somethin$ that matters to him The &onder of this si$ht takes Achilles out of his self-"it(% but back into himself as a son and as a sharer of human miser( itself All his old lon$in$s for $lor( and re)en$e fall a&a(% since the( ha)e no "lace in the si$ht in &hich he is no& absorbed 7or the moment% the beaut( of Friam#s terrible action re-makes the &orld% and determines &hat matters and &hat doesn#t The feelin$ in this moment out of time is fra$ile% and Achilles feels it threatened b( tra$ic fear ,n the stran$e fusion of this scene% &hat Achilles fears is himself6 Adon#t irritate me an( lon$er no&% old man%B he sa(s &hen Friam tries to hurr( alon$ the return of 'ector#s bod(% Adon#t stir u" m( heart in its $riefs an( more no&% lest , not s"are e)en (ou (ourself# (E5D% E58-/) 7inall(% after the( share a meal% the( *ust look at each other AFriam &ondered at Achilles% at ho& bi$ he &as and &hat he &as like% for he seemed e1ual to the $ods% but Achilles &ondered at Tro*an Friam% lookin$ on the &orth( si$ht of him and hearin$ his stor(B (52/-32) ,n the $ri" of &onder the( do not see enemies The( see trul( The( see the beaut( in t&o men &ho ha)e lost almost e)er(thin$ The( see a son a father should be "roud of and a father a son should re)ere The action of the ,liad stretches from Achilles# deliberate choice to remo)e himself from the &ar to his deliberate choice to return 'ector#s bod( to Friam The "assion of the ,liad mo)es from an$er throu$h "it( and fear to &onder Friam#s &onder lifts him for a moment out of the miser( he is endurin$% and "ermits him to see the cause of that miser( as still somethin$ $ood Achilles# &onder is similar to that of Friam% since Achilles too sees the cause of his an$uish in a ne& li$ht% but in his case this takes se)eral ste"s 2hen Friam first a""ears in his hut% 'omer com"ares the ama+ement this "roduces to that &ith &hich "eo"le look at a murderer &ho has fled from his homeland (48D-84) This is a stran$e com"arison% and it recalls the e)en stran$er fact disclosed one book earlier that Fatroclus% &hom e)er(one s"eaks of as $entle and kind-hearted (es" HI,,% 5@D-@<)% &ho $i)es his life because he cannot bear to see his friends destro(ed to satisf( Achilles# an$er% this same Fatroclus be$an his life as a murderer in his o&n countr(% and came to Achilles# father Feleus for a second chance at life 2hen Achilles remembers his father% he is rememberin$ the man &hose kindness brou$ht Fatroclus into his life% so that his tears% no& for his father% no& a$ain for Fatroclus (HH,I% E<<-<2)% mer$e into a sin$le $rief But the old man cr(in$ &ith him is a father too% and Achilles# tears encom"ass Friam alon$ &ith Achilles# o&n lo)ed ones 7inall(% since Friam is cr(in$ for 'ector% Achilles# $rief includes 'ector himself% and so it turns his earlier an$uish inside out ,f Friam is like Achilles# father% then 'ector must come to seem to Achilles to be like a brother% or to be like himself Achilles cannot be brou$ht to such a reflection b( reasonin$% nor do the feelin$s in &hich he has been embroiled take him in that direction Cnl( Friam succeeds in unlockin$ Achilles# heart% and he does so b( an action% b( kissin$ his hand 7rom the be$innin$ of Book HI,,, (23% 2@% 33)% Achilles# hands are referred to o)er and o)er and o)er% as he uses them to "our dirt on his head% to tear his hair% and to kill e)er( Tro*an he can $et his hands on 'ector% &ho must $o u" a$ainst those hands% is mesmeri+ed b( them6 the( are like a fire% he sa(s% and re"eats it A'is hands seem like a fireB (HH% 3@<-2) After Friam kisses Achilles# hand% and after the( cr( to$ether% 'omer tells us that the desire for lamentation &ent out of Achilles# chest and out of his hands (HH,I% E<4) 'is murderous% manslau$hterin$ hands are stilled b( a $rief that finall( has no enem( to take itself out on 2hen% in Book HI,,,% Achilles had acce"ted his doom (<<E)% it &as "art of a bar$ain6 A, &ill lie still &hen , am dead%B he had said% Abut no& , must &in s"lendid $lor(B (<2<) But at the end of the "oem% Achilles has lost interest in $lor( 'e is no lon$er eaten u" b( the desire to be lifted abo)e 'ector and Friam% but comes to rest in *ust lookin$ at them for &hat the( are 'omer does surround Achilles in armor that takes the stin$ from his miser( and from his a""roachin$ death% b( &orkin$ that miser( and death into the &holeness of the ,liad But the ,liad is% as Aristotle sa(s% the "rotot("e of tra$ed(6 it is not a "oem that aims at conferrin$ $lor( but a "oem that besto&s the $ift of &onder =ike Alonso in the Tem"est% Achilles ultimatel( finds himself Cf the t&o% Achilles is the closer model of the s"ectator of a tra$ed(% because Alonso "lun$es dee" into remorse before he is brou$ht back into the shared

&orld Achilles is lifted directl( out of himself% into the shared &orld% in the act of &onder% and sees his o&n ima$e in the sorro&in$ father in front of him This is e-actl( &hat a tra$ed( does to us% and e-actl( &hat &e e-"erience in lookin$ at Achilles ,n his loss% &e "it( him ,n his fear of himself% on Friam#s behalf% &e fear for him% that he mi$ht lose his ne&-&on humanit( ,n his ca"acit( to be mo)ed b( the &onder of a sufferin$ fello& human% &e &onder at him At the end of the ,liad% as at the end of e)er( tra$ed(% &e are &ashed in the beaut( of the human ima$e% &hich our "it( and our fear ha)e brou$ht to si$ht The fi)e marks of tra$ed( that &e learned of from Aristotle#s Poetics8 that it imitates an action% arouses "it( and fear% dis"la(s the human ima$e as such% ends in &onder% and is inherentl( beautiful8$i)e a true and "o&erful account of the tra$ic "leasure #. $%cer!ts from &ristotle's Poetics Ch 5 A tra$ed( is an imitation of an action that is serious and has a &holeness in its e-tent% in lan$ua$e that is "leasin$ (thou$h in distinct &a(s in its different "arts)% enacted rather than narrated% culminatin$% b( means of "it( and fear% in the cleansin$ of these "assions L!o tra$ed( is an imitation not of "eo"le% but of action% life% and ha""iness or unha""iness% &hile ha""iness and unha""iness ha)e their bein$ in acti)it(% and come to com"letion not in a 1ualit( but in some sort of action LTherefore it is deeds and the stor( that are the end at &hich tra$ed( aims% and in all thin$s the end is &hat matters most L!o the source that $o)erns tra$ed( in the &a( that the soul $o)erns life is the stor( Ch @ An e-tended &hole is that &hich has a be$innin$% middle and end But a be$innin$ is somethin$ &hich% in itself% does not need to be after an(thin$ else% &hile somethin$ else naturall( is the case or comes about after it6 and an end is its contrar(% somethin$ &hich in itself is of such a nature as to be after somethin$ else% either necessaril( or for the most "art% but to ha)e nothin$ else after it-,t is therefore needful that &ell"ut-to$ether stories not be$in from *ust an(&here at random% nor end *ust an(&here at random LAnd beaut( resides in si+e and order L the oneness and &holeness of the beautiful thin$ bein$ "resent all at once in contem"lation Lin stories% *ust as in human or$ani+ations and in li)in$ thin$s Ch 8 A stor( is not one% as some "eo"le think% *ust because it is about one "erson LAnd 'omer% *ust as he is distin$uished in all other &a(s% seems to ha)e seen this "oint beautifull(% &hether b( art or b( nature Ch / 3o& tra$ed( is an imitation not onl( of a com"lete action% but also of ob*ects of fear and "it(% and these arise most of all &hen e)ents ha""en contrar( to e-"ectation but in conse1uence of one another6 for in this &a( the( &ill ha)e more &onder in them than if the( ha""ened b( chance or b( fortune% since e)en amon$ thin$s that ha""en b( chance% the $reatest sense of &onder is from those that seem to ha)e ha""ened b( desi$n Chs <3-<4 !ince it is "eculiar to tra$ed( to be an imitation of actions arousin$ "it( and fear Land since the former concerns someone &ho is undeser)in$ of sufferin$ and the latter concerns someone like us Lthe stor( that &orks &ell must Lde"ict a chan$e from $ood to bad fortune% resultin$ not from badness one that arises from the actions themsel)es% the astonishment comin$ about throu$h thin$s that are likel(% as in the Cedi"us of !o"hocles A re)elation% as the &ord indicates% is a chan$e from i$norance to kno&led$e% that "roduces either friendshi" or hatred in "eo"le marked out for $ood or bad fortune The most beautiful of re)elations occurs &hen re)ersals of condition come about at the same time% as is the case in the Cedi"us 8Ch << Chs 24-E 2onder needs to be "roduced in tra$edies% but in the e"ic there is more room for that &hich confounds reason% b( means of &hich &onder comes about most of all% since in the e"ic one does not see the "erson &ho "erforms the action6 the e)ents surroundin$ the "ursuit of 'ector &ould seem ridiculous if the( &ere on sta$e LBut &onder is s&eet LAnd 'omer most of all has tau$ht the rest of us ho& one ou$ht to s"eak of &hat is untrue LCne ou$ht to choose likel( im"ossibilities in "reference to uncon)incin$ "ossibilities LAnd if a "oet has% re"resented im"ossible thin$s% then he has missed the mark% but that is the ri$ht thin$ to do if he thereb( hits the mark that is the end of the "oetic art itself% that is% if in that &a( he makes that or some other "art more &ondrous Tragedy ATra$ed(% then% is an imitation of an action that is serious% com"lete% and of a certain ma$nitude6 in lan$ua$e embellished &ith each kind of artistic ornament% the se)eral kinds bein$ found in se"arate "arts of the "la(6 in the form of action% not of narrati)e6 &ith incidents arousin$ "it( and fear% &here&ith to accom"lish its katharsis of such emotions E)er( Tra$ed(% therefore% must ha)e si- "arts% &hich "arts determine its 1ualit(Onamel(% Flot% Characters% 9iction% Thou$ht% !"ectacle% ;elod( B (translation b( ! ' Butcher6 click on the conte-t links to consult the full online te-t) The treatise &e call the Poetics &as com"osed at least ED (ears after the death of !o"hocles Aristotle &as a $reat admirer of !o"hocles# Cedi"us the ?in$% considerin$ it the "erfect tra$ed(% and not sur"risin$l(% his anal(sis fits that "la( most "erfectl( , shall therefore use this "la( to illustrate the follo&in$ ma*or "arts of AristotlePs anal(sis of tra$ed( as a literar( $enre Tra$ed( is the Aimitation of an actionB (mimesis) accordin$ to Athe la& of "robabilit( or necessit( B Aristotle indicates that the medium of tra$ed( is drama% not narrati)e6 tra$ed( Asho&sB rather than Atells B Accordin$ to Aristotle% tra$ed( is hi$her and more "hiloso"hical than histor( because histor( sim"l( relates &hat has ha""ened &hile tra$ed( dramati+es &hat ma(ha""en% A&hat is "ossibile accordin$ to the la& of "robabilit( or necessit( B 'istor( thus deals &ith the "articular% and tra$ed( &ith the uni)ersal E)ents that ha)e ha""ened ma( be due to

accident or coincidence6 the( ma( be "articular to a s"ecific situation and not be "art of a clear cause-and-effect chain Therefore the( ha)e little rele)ance for others Tra$ed(% ho&e)er% is rooted in the fundamental order of the uni)erse6 it creates a cause-and-effect chain that clearl( re)eals &hat ma( ha""en at an( time or "lace because that is the &a( the &orld o"erates Tra$ed( therefore arouses not onl( "it( but also fear% because the audience can en)ision themsel)es &ithin this cause-and-effect chain (conte-t) Plot is the Afirst "rinci"le%B the most im"ortant feature of tra$ed( Aristotle defines "lot as Athe arran$ement of the incidentsB: i e % not the stor( itself but the &a( the incidents are "resented to the audience% the structure of the "la( Accordin$ to Aristotle% tra$edies &here the outcome de"ends on a ti$htl( constructed causeand-effect chain of actions are su"erior to those that de"end "rimaril( on the character and "ersonalit( of the "rota$onist Flots that meet this criterion &ill ha)e the follo&in$ 1ualities (conte-t) !ee 7re(ta$Ps Trian$le for a dia$ram that illustrates AristotlePs ideal "lot structure% and Flot of Cedi"us the ?in$ for an a""lication of this dia$ram to !o"hocles# "la( < The "lot must be Aa &hole%B &ith a be$innin$% middle% and end The be$innin$% called b( modern critics the incenti)e moment% must start the cause-and-effect chain but not be de"endent on an(thin$ outside the com"ass of the "la( (i e % its causes are do&n"la(ed but its effects are stressed) The middle% or clima-% must be caused b( earlier incidents and itself cause the incidents that follo& it (i e % its causes and effects are stressed) The end% or resolution% must be caused b( the "recedin$ e)ents but not lead to other incidents outside the com"ass of the "la( (i e % its causes are stressed but its effects do&n"la(ed)6 the end should therefore sol)e or resol)e the "roblem created durin$ the incenti)e moment (conte-t) Aristotle calls the cause-and-effect chain leadin$ from the incenti)e moment to the clima- the At(in$ u"B (desis)% in modern terminolo$( the com"lication 'e therefore terms the more ra"id cause-and-effect chain from the clima- to the resolution the Aunra)ellin$B (lusis)% in modern terminolo$( the dQnouement (conte-t) 2 The "lot must be Acom"lete%B ha)in$ Aunit( of action B B( this Aristotle means that the "lot must be structurall( self-contained% &ith the incidents bound to$ether b( internal necessit(% each action leadin$ ine)itabl( to the ne-t &ith no outside inter)ention% no deus e- machina (conte-t) Accordin$ to Aristotle% the &orst kinds of "lots are ARe"isodic%# in &hich the e"isodes or acts succeed one another &ithout "robable or necessar( se1uenceB6 the onl( thin$ that ties to$ether the e)ents in such a "lot is the fact that the( ha""en to the same "erson Fla(&ri$hts should e-clude coincidences from their "lots6 if some coincidence is re1uired% it should Aha)e an air of desi$n%B i e % seem to ha)e a fated connection to the e)ents of the "la( (conte-t) !imilarl(% the "oet should e-clude the irrational or at least kee" it Aoutside the sco"e of the tra$ed(%B i e % re"orted rather than dramati+ed (conte-t) 2hile the "oet cannot chan$e the m(ths that are the basis of his "lots% he Aou$ht to sho& in)ention of his o&n and skillfull( handle the traditional materialsB to create unit( of action in his "lot (conte-t) A""lication to Cedi"us the ?in$ 3 The "lot must be Aof a certain ma$nitude%B both 1uantitati)el( (len$th% com"le-it() and 1ualitati)el( (AseriousnessB and uni)ersal si$nificance) Aristotle ar$ues that "lots should not be too brief6 the more incidents and themes that the "la(&ri$ht can brin$ to$ether in an or$anic unit(% the $reater the artistic )alue and richness of the "la( Also% the more uni)ersal and si$nificant the meanin$ of the "la(% the more the "la(&ri$ht can catch and hold the emotions of the audience% the better the "la( &ill be (conte-t) 4 The "lot ma( be either sim"le or com"le-% althou$h com"le- is better !im"le "lots ha)e onl( a Achan$e of fortuneB (catastro"he) Com"le- "lots ha)e both Are)ersal of intentionB ("eri"eteia) and Areco$nitionB (ana$norisis) connected &ith the catastro"he Both "eri"eteia and ana$norisis turn u"on sur"rise Aristotle e-"lains that a "eri"eteia occurs &hen a character "roduces an effect o""osite to that &hich he intended to "roduce% &hile an ana$norisis Ais a chan$e from i$norance to kno&led$e% "roducin$ lo)e or hate bet&een the "ersons destined for $ood or bad fortune B 'e ar$ues that the best "lots combine these t&o as "art of their cause-and-effect chain (i e % the "eri"eteia leads directl( to theana$norisis)6 this in turns creates the catastro"he% leadin$ to the final Ascene of sufferin$B (conte-t) A""lication toCedi"us the ?in$ Character has the second "lace in im"ortance ,n a "erfect tra$ed(% character &ill su""ort "lot% i e % "ersonal moti)ations &ill be intricatel( connected "arts of the cause-and-effect chain of actions "roducin$ "it( and fear in the audience The "rota$onist should be reno&ned and "ros"erous% so his chan$e of fortune can be from $ood to bad This chan$e Ashould come about as the result% not of )ice% but of some $reat error or frailt( in a character B !uch a "lot is most likel( to $enerate "it( and fear in the audience% for A"it( is aroused b( unmerited misfortune% fear b( the misfortune of a man like oursel)es B The term Aristotle uses here% hamartia% often translated Atra$ic fla&%B has been the sub*ect of much debate The meanin$ of the >reek &ord is closer to AmistakeB than to Afla&%B and , belie)e it is best inter"reted in the conte-t of &hat Aristotle has to sa( about "lot and Athe la& or "robabilit( or necessit( B ,n the ideal tra$ed(% claims Aristotle% the "rota$onist &ill mistakenl( brin$ about his o&n do&nfallOnot because he is sinful or morall( &eak% but because he does not kno& enou$h The role of the hamartiain tra$ed( comes not from its moral status but from the ine)itabilit( of its conse1uences 'ence the "eri"eteia is reall( one or more self-destructi)e actions taken in blindness% leadin$ to results diametricall( o""osed to those that &ere intended (often termed tra$ic iron()% and the ana$norisis is the $ainin$ of the essential kno&led$e that &as "re)iousl( lackin$ (conte-t) A""lication to Cedi"us the ?in$ Characters in tra$ed( should ha)e the follo&in$ 1ualities (conte-t):

< A$ood or fine B Aristotle relates this 1ualit( to moral "ur"ose and sa(s it is relati)e to class: AE)en a &oman ma( be $ood% and also a sla)e% thou$h the &oman ma( be said to be an inferior bein$% and the sla)e 1uite &orthless B 2 Afitness of characterB (true to t("e)6 e $ )alor is a""ro"riate for a &arrior but not for a &oman 3 Atrue to lifeB (realistic) 4 Aconsistenc(B (true to themsel)es) Cnce a characterPs "ersonalit( and moti)ations are established% these should continue throu$hout the "la( E Anecessar( or "robable B Characters must be lo$icall( constructed accordin$ to Athe la& of "robabilit( or necessit(B that $o)erns the actions of the "la( 5 Atrue to life and (et more beautifulB (ideali+ed% ennobled) Thou$ht is third in im"ortance% and is found A&here somethin$ is "ro)ed to be or not to be% or a $eneral ma-im is enunciated B Aristotle sa(s little about thou$ht% and most of &hat he has to sa( is associated &ith ho& s"eeches should re)eal character (conte-t <6 conte-t 2) 'o&e)er% &e ma( assume that this cate$or( &ould also include &hat &e call the themes of a "la( (iction is fourth% and is Athe e-"ression of the meanin$ in &ordsB &hich are "ro"er and a""ro"riate to the "lot% characters% and end of the tra$ed( ,n this cate$or(% Aristotle discusses the st(listic elements of tra$ed(6 he is "articularl( interested in meta"hors: ABut the $reatest thin$ b( far is to ha)e a command of meta"hor6 it is the mark of $enius% for to make $ood meta"hors im"lies an e(e for resemblancesB (conte-t) A""lication to Cedi"us the ?in$ !on$% or melod(% is fifth% and is the musical element of the chorus Aristotle ar$ues that the Chorus should be full( inte$rated into the "la( like an actor6 choral odes should not be Amere interludes%B but should contribute to the unit( of the "lot (conte-t) !"ectacle is last% for it is least connected &ith literature6 Athe "roduction of s"ectacular effects de"ends more on the art of the sta$e machinist than on that of the "oet B Althou$h Aristotle reco$ni+es the emotional attraction of s"ectacle% he ar$ues that su"erior "oets rel( on the inner structure of the "la( rather than s"ectacle to arouse "it( and fear6 those &ho rel( hea)il( on s"ectacle Acreate a sense% not of the terrible% but onl( of the monstrousB (conte-t <6 conte-t 2) The end of the tra$ed( is a katharsis ("ur$ation% cleansin$) of the tra$ic emotions of "it( and fear ?atharsis is another Aristotelian term that has $enerated considerable debate The &ord means A"ur$in$%B and Aristotle seems to be em"lo(in$ a medical meta"horOtra$ed( arouses the emotions of "it( and fear in order to "ur$e a&a( their e-cess% to reduce these "assions to a health(% balanced "ro"ortion Aristotle also talks of the A"leasureB that is "ro"er to tra$ed(% a""arentl( meanin$ the aesthetic "leasure one $ets from contem"latin$ the "it( and fear that are aroused throu$h an intricatel( constructed &ork of art (conte-t) 2e mi$ht "rofitabl( com"are this )ie& of Aristotle &ith that e-"ressed b( !usanne =an$er in our first readin$ (AE-"ressi)eness in Art%B e-cer"t from Froblems of Art: Ten Fhiloso"hical =ectures% 3e& Gork% !cribner% </E@): A &ork of art "resents feelin$ (in the broad sense , mentioned before% as e)er(thin$ that can be felt) for our contem"lation% makin$ it )isible or audible or in some &a( "ercei)able throu$h a s(mbol% not inferable from a s(m"tom Artistic form is con$ruent &ith the d(namic forms of our direct sensuous% mental% and emotional life6 &orks of art are ima$es of feelin$% that formulate it for our co$nition 2hat is artisticall( $ood is &hate)er articulates and "resents feelin$ for our understandin$ (55<-52)

Minat Terkait