Aristotle guide

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13 Dec 2010
Aristotle (Poetics)
To his coy mistress—seduction under threat of death
Aristotles view of the use of poetry was that poetry should be looked at more for its
rhetorical value than the actual meaning of the content itself. More the way in
which language is used and how it is used in order to effect the persuasion of the
poem itself
Poetry is fundamentally distinct, different from other art forms. It is made of words
(of speech).
His classifications: Epic, Tragedy, Comedy
Tragedy is the highest form of poetry for Aristotle and Comedy the lowest
These three genres differ in three ways: the medium under which they are
presented, the object that they are discussing, and the manner in which they are
Aristotlewe can differ between (recognize) poetry that portrays things as they are
or were AND poetry that portray things that are said or thought to be AND poetry
that portrays reality as it ought to be
Tragedy: the imitation/mimesis of action (plot), language, emotion (catharsis).
Tragic poetry is inflating and embellished (linguistic elevation)
In watching a person suffer a reversal of fortune, we are brought face-to-face with
our worst fears, or vulnerability and mortality
Effect-purging of emotions
Elements: Plot, Character, Thought, Diction (in order of importance)
Plot: the soul of tragedy
The perfect tragic plot must be driven by ethics (concerns of morality and propriety)
and the pathetic (passion).
We cannot know for certain that we have a relationship between what is in the
world, and what we imagine there to be
Character: discloses moral purpose
The demise of the tragic hero is brought upon them by their fatal flaw
Essential features of tragic characters: goodness, propriety, fidelity to life, and
Thought: the arousal of emotions and the ability to think clearlyrationalize and
organize thoughts in a coherent and meaningful way
The ability to say things that are pertinent and timely and imply a choice of action
Diction: ability to use words (or more precisely their phonemic, morphological, and
syntactic properties, as well as their potential for figurative expression) to convey
Sounds create a moodthe sounds of a word and the syllables used
Tragic style: clearness of diction that is remote from commonness and partial
conformity with usage
Words represent action, words do things. (*I now pronounce you husband and wife)
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