How does the structure of Roger Mais' Brother Man borrow from, transform (and transcend) Aristotle's notion of a tragedy?

Essay by uwistrugglaUniversity, Bachelor's April 2005

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Roger Mais' Brother Man, to a large extent fits into Aristotle's theory of Tragedy as outlined in the Poetics. However, the first thing that may be questioned, when trying to fit Brother Man into Aristotle's description, is the fact that Aristotle suggests that the medium of tragedy is drama, not narrative; as, tragedy shows rather than tells. How then can one apply this description to the novel Brother Man?

Roger Mais cleverly structured his novel similar to a dramatic piece. Brother Man is divided into five chapters - reminiscent of the five acts of a play. Additionally, the short episodes within each chapter also suggest the scenes of a play. The novel may be further likened to a Classical Drama, as it utilizes a Chorus. Initially, the "chorus of people in the lane" may seem an interlude as opposed to a character itself (as Aristotle specifies) - fully integrated and contributing to the unity of the plot.

However, upon closer inspection, the chorus does more than merely introduce each chapter. The "chorus of people in the lane" interprets action, voices responses of the group (representing the people of the lane), establishes the required mood and prepares the audience/reader for what actually happens. In this aspect, Mais' "chorus of people in the lane" does borrow from Aristotle's theory of a Tragedy.

Yet, the issue still must be addressed that Brother Man possesses (even though it may describe action) narrative. Mais may thus be transforming Aristotle's notion of a tragedy by creating a stage in the minds of his readers, as opposed to the action taking place in an actual theatre. In doing this, Mais grants his reader the role of both director and audience. The reader's theatre, (or the mind of the reader) is now presented with a...