ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Poetics of Aristotle

Updated on January 21, 2010

The Poetics of Aristotle is a treatise by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) on the nature of poetic art and the relation of poetry to reality. The 26 chapters which survive from what originally was a more extensive work address themselves to an analysis of tragedy and narrative poetry. There are indications in the surviving part that the lost portion of the Poetics dealt in a similar manner with comedy.

In exploring the structure, ingredients, and impact of tragedy and narrative poetry, Aristotle is particularly concerned with the ability of poetry to reproduce or to imitate human situations and events. Throughout the Poetics his basic assumption is that poetry is more philosophical and serious than history. Tragedy evokes in the human being a psychological as well as an intellectual response; human experience in times of crisis is regarded as the proper content for drama, while narrative poetry provides the reader with a series of interpretations of life itself.

In the sixth chapter of the Poetics Aristotle presents the core of his poetic doctrine and aesthetic theory. Before qualifying the six component parts of a tragedy (plot, characters, diction, thought, spectacle, and choral music) and before emphasizing the unity which these component parts must preserve to ensure the unity of the organic whole, he defines the purpose and essence of tragedy: "tragedy is the imitation of an action which is serious, complete in itself and of a certain magnitude; in language which is embellished with artistic ornaments; in a dramatic not a narrative form; with incidents which arouse pity and fear and accomplishing the catharsis of these emotions." That every work of art is a likeness or reproduction of an original is consistently maintained throughout the Aristotelian system of philosophy, and in the Poetics poetry is shown to be the highest form of reproductive art. The emotional catharsis which Aristotle attributes to the impact of tragedy is contrived by the spectacle, the structure, and the incidents of the play; of similar significance, however, is the intellectual and emotional response of the audience as it witnesses the play. While narrative poetry may reproduce human actions, it is not within its faculty to effect and to purge these emotions.

The Poetics contributes the concept of the "tragic hero" to dramatic criticism. Aristotle defines the hero as "a man not outstandingly good and just whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity but by some error of judgment..." In this definition the Aristotelian ethical principle of character and choice becomes evident - the character of a man may be adjudged by the choices he makes.

To illustrate his poetic doctrine Aristotle cites a number of Greek tragedies as well as the Iliad and the Odyssey. In Sophocles' Oedipus the King, he finds the greatest number of illustrative virtues and the highest degree of dramatic competence. In summary, near the end of the Poetics, he pronounces tragedy a superior and higher form of imitative art than the epic.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)