Worksheet: Aristotelian Principles of Analysis
Aristotle’s Definition of Tragedy:
“A tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in appropriate and pleasurable language; in a dramatic rather than narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish a catharsis of these emotions.”
· A good tragedy deals with one very serious main action (plot). In one sentence briefly summarize the plot.
· Does the audience feel sorry for the main character in the end? Why?
· Where is the reversal (peripeteia), and what is it?
· Is there a discovery (anagnorisis)? What is the discovery, and who discovers it?
· In a great tragedy the characters support the plot. List the main characters below, and tell what their primary “want” (objective) is. Put a box around the protagonist (who the story is about).
· Aristotle believed that the protagonist should be renowned and prosperous. What is the protagonist’s “high place,” or job?
· Aristotle thought that the best tragedy was one of a basically good man who changes from happiness to misery because of some great error, sometimes known as his tragic flaw (hamartia). Does this main character have some kind of tragic flaw? What is it?
· What is the theme (major issue) in this play?
· How is the dialogue written? (Verse, metaphor, rhyme scheme) (NOTE: this may not be easily identifiable as we’re not reading the “logos,” or words, in Ancient Greek!)
· In Greek tragedy, the musical element was introduced by the Chorus. Give one example where the Chorus comments on the action.
· The Chorus was to be fully integrated into the unity of the plot and should further the action of the play like another actor. Give an example of when the Chorus functions like an actor.
· Aristotle thought that the visual elements were the least important in tragedy, and that they “belonged more to the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet.” When you read this play, did you “see” in your imagination any great special effects? If you were the director, which moments would be the most theatrical? How would you stage it?