Analysis of Aristotle's "Poetics"

Essay by MichaelZhaoHigh School, 10th gradeA+, April 2004

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Aristotle is one of the greatest historical figures of all time. During his life, he was an accomplished poet, mathematician, and leading government figure. He wrote The Poetics mainly in response to Plato's thoughts. He modeled The Poetics on what he thought the greatest tragedy of all, Sophocles Oedipus Rex. He believed that each tragedy must achieve a catharsis with the audience. To achieve this catharsis the figure must be larger than life. Many filmmakers today use this philosophy especially in dramas. For the audience to connect with the hero/heroine, the hero must bear more burdens mentally and physically than the average person. According to Aristotle, pity and fear are the most important elements in connecting with the audience. This is why many authors today write so that the reader feels these two elements. Aristotle uses three differences as a formula for a tragedy or comedy; these three differences are medium, the objects, and the manner.

By varying these in different amounts, the poet can achieve a different affect. By demonstrating various differences, poets can create the Tragedy, the Comedy, or both. Serving as a guideline, modern poets such as William Shakespeare have used these guidelines for their own creations.

The Poetics are quite different from other books. The fact that The Poetics is written as a guideline is enough to see that it is indeed different from the others. It is interesting to see that The Poetics is not written in book form. In fact, it is a students notes taken during one of Aristotle's lectures. This prompts us to think if this is indeed the whole lecture. If it is indeed the whole lecture, how is this manuscript to be analyzed? Scholars have long debated on the actual interpretation of the manuscript. Some suggest a literal...