Words of Wisdom:

"My first pet was...Delicous..." - Essay4free


  • Date Submitted: 10/07/2010 10:43 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 53.9 
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Aristotle, in the Poetics, laid out a standard pattern for TRAGEDY, which all later playwrights have either followed or reacted against, but no one is able to ignore it. 
  1. The PROTAGONIST is a highly placed man (or woman), one of high rank, power, or fortune.
  2. He suffers a CATASTROPHE [Greek peripeteia], reversal of fortune, or downfall. He suffers beyond what most people endure. As Aristotle said, his suffering is meant to arouse both pity (for the protagonist) and fear (for themselves being made to suffer) in the audience.
  3. His downfall is brought about by a choice or series of choices that are due to a TRAGIC FLAW in his character (HAMARTIA). In short, he brings about his own downfall. The most common example of hamartia is sinful, overweening PRIDE, or HUBRIS [sometimes rendered as hybris], but there are other possible tragic flaws, e.g., willful stubbornness, disobedience, fanaticism, spiritual or mental blindness.
  4. The protagonist recognises his own flaw in a scene of self-recognition.
  5. This spectacle provides an emotional release, or CATHARSIS, for the audience.
  6. The action of the classical drama is bound by the three UNITIES of time, place, and action. The drama takes place in one area, in one day, and all the action is sequential, involving only one protagonist. In short, there is only one PLOT. In later forms of drama, the unity of action was dissolved and one or more SUB-PLOTS might be found in the same play.

In classical TRAGEDY, the protagonist is always a man or woman of magnificence. This is also true in ELIZABETHAN TRAGEDY, which, however, depends on shock and violence for much of its effect. In later ages, the protagonist may be a person of any rank, from a shoe salesman to a king or a powerful businessman. In ROMANTIC  TRAGEDY, the downfall is almost always due to an excess of love or passion. Hence the "star-crossed lovers" theme that has continued in popularity down to the present day.


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