Aristotle’s Concept Of Tragedy

“The Poetics” is primarily about the Tragedy that is considered the highest form of poetry. Abercrombie says:

“But the theory of Tragedy developed with such vision and understanding and becomes the kind of theory of literature.”

Aristotle shows that imitation is the common basis of all the fine arts, which differ in their imitation of the media, objects of imitation and how to imitate. Poetry differs from music in the middle of the imitation. Epic poetry and dramatic poetry differs based on imitation way. Dramatic poetry is itself divided into tragic or comic based on the objects of imitation. Tragedy imitates men better and comedy as worse than they are. Thus, Aristotle establishes the uniqueness of the tragedy.

Aristotle traces the origin and evolution of poetry. Previously, the poetry was of two kinds. There were “lambs” or “abusive”, on the one hand, that has evolved in satirical poems, and “hymns” in the gods or “praise” on the large, on the other side, which has evolved into epic poetry or heroic. Heroic poetry of tragedy developed, and out of the satirical comedy. Both epic and tragedy mimic serious subjects in a kind of poetry grandiose, but they differ in one kind of mimics to Epic, both suspects’ chorus and dialogue. The saga is long and varied, but the tragedy has a greater concentration and efficiency. Missing epic music, theater made the presentation and unity of action tragedy a.

“All the parts of an epic are included in Tragedy; but those of Tragedy are not all of them to be found in the Epic.”

Aristotle has an assessment of the nature and function of the tragedy. He defines tragedy as:

“the imitation of an action, serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude, in a language beautified in different parts with different kinds of embellishment, through actions and not narration, and through scenes of pity and fear bringing about the ‘Catharsis’ of these emotions.”

The definition separates tragedy from other poetic forms. First, the objects of imitation are serious to do otherwise Comedy imitates non-serious. ‘Serious’ means important, weighty. Tragedy on the basis of a second manner different from that epic tells and does not represent the actions. Thirdly, the medium is different from that opera. It employs a variety of decorations.

Aristotle regards the plot as the soul of a tragedy. Tragedy imitates “actions” and the plot consists of a sequence of events logical and inevitable. The action is as a whole. It has a beginning, middle and end.

The tragic plot must have a certain size or “length”. “Magnitude” means that the “size”. It should be long enough to allow the change from happiness to misery, but not too long to be forgotten before the end. Action too short cannot be considered good and beautiful parts are not clearly visible. The parts must be connected to each other and everything. It must be an ‘organic’ whole.

Aristotle divides the tragic plot “simple” and “complex.” The simple plot change in the fortunes of the hero is successful and the episode of Discovery, while the complex plot involves one or two. The episode is the change in the fortunes of the hero, and the discovery is a change from ignorance to knowledge. Aristotle rather complex plots their jumps, catches the eye and leads to the tragic function more efficiently. It is episodic plot, lack of probability and necessity, in the worst of all.

Aristotle places great emphasis on the need and the likelihood of the impact of a tragedy. This implies that there should be no external events and incidents. They inevitably succeed. No event or character must be redundant. They introduced the events should be expected in the circumstances.

By various embellishments in various parts, Aristotle means verse and song. Tragedy imitates the verse in the dialogue and singing in choric parties. Verse and song beautify and give pleasure. But Aristotle was not considered essential to the success of a tragedy.

Aristotle emphasizes that the function of tragedy is to present scenes of “fear and pity” and create a catharsis of these emotions. Suffice it to say that the catharsis of pity and fear, he believes their return to the right proportions as the desired “golden means.”


Aristotle lists six training or part of the tragedy, the plot, character, dictionary, I thought, spectacle and song. Two of these parts relate to the medium of imitation, one to the manner of imitation, and three to the object of imitation. Choral song found share of tragedy. Performance is more to do with stagecraft than writing poetry.

“Thought” is the power to say what for what is appropriate for the occasion. It is the language that gives us the thoughts and feelings of the characters. The language of tragedy is unusually expressive. Language tragedy “must be clear, and it should not be evil.” It must be grand and elevated with familiar and current words. ‘Rare’ and ‘unfamiliar’ words must be set in wisely to impart elevation.

Aristotle emphasizes four qualities essential to the characterization. First, the characters must be good but not perfect. Evil characters could be entering if required by the plot. Second, be suitable. Should have the characteristics of the profession or class to which they belong. Third, it must have seemed. For the likeness, this means that the characters must be living comparable. Fourth, there should be consistency in development. There should be no sudden and strange character.

Aristotle’s ideal tragic hero sets should not be all good or all bad. It is an ordinary man, the weakness and virtues, as, leaning over the side of good than harm, in a position of eminence, and the collapse of the hill, not because of willful sin, but due to some misjudgments, in turn, leads to a catharsis of the emotions of pity and fear.

Plots must arouse feelings of pity and fear, which is a function of tragedy. The tragic story is that they do not want to show () a perfectly good man moving from misery to happiness (b) the bad man will rise from misery to happiness (c) a very bad man has fallen from happiness into misery.

By comparing the size of the plot and characters, Aristotle is quite specific that the plot is more important than character. He even said that there could be a tragedy without character, but not without intrigue or plot.


Aristotle points out that one of the three units that unity of action; it is against the multiplicity of actions because it weakens the tragic effect. There may be many events, but must be related to each other, and they must all be conducive to an end. For a unit of time, Aristotle mentions it only once in relation to the dramatic action. Comparison of the epic and tragedy, he writes:

“Tragedy tries, as far as possible, to live within a single revolution of the sun, or only slightly to exceed it, whereas the epic observes no limits in its time of action.”

According to Aristotle, the end of poetry is pleasure, and right next to the pleasure of tragedy. Proper aesthetic pleasure can be possible only when the requirements of morality are satisfied. Verses and rhymes to enhance the pleasure of poetry. Peripeteia and Anagnorisis increase the operation seductive power. Pure pleasure to use the results of our feelings and thoughts about the tragic action.

These are the main features of the Aristotelian theory of tragedy. Aristotle knew only Greek tragedy. His conclusions based solely on the drama, which was familiar, and often his views are not universally applicable. In his opinion, could be questioned, but their history is the story of the tragedy.

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