Aristotle S Rules For Tragedy Essay Research

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Aristotle S Rules For Tragedy Essay, Research Paper Aristotle s Rules For Tragedy Laid Down In Poetics As They Apply To Blood Relations By Sharon Pollock Aristotle could be considered the first popular literary critic. Unlike Plato, who all but condemned written verse, Aristotle breaks it down and analyses it so as to separate the good from the bad. He studies in great detail what components make a decent epic or tragedy. The main sections he comes up with are form, means and manner. For most drama and verse, Aristotle s rules are a fairly good measure of the quality of a piece of written work. In modern day however (modern meaning within the last century), certain changes in the nature of dramatic writing have started opening a gap between Aristotelian criticism and what is

actually being produced on the stage. Changes in values and techniques brought about by Stanislavsky and some leaders of the popular feminist movement have shifted the direction of theatre. In light of these changes some of Aristotle s rules are not applicable anymore. That is not to say that they are not sound. They simply do not apply. Sharon Pollock, one of Canada s great female playwrights and a strong leader of the popular feminist movement, is one example of a writer that breaks Aristotle s mold. Her play Blood Relations sits on the edge of what Aristotle would call tragedy. Aristotle states that the form of tragedy is an imitation of a noble and complete action, having the proper magnitude (Aristotle 6). Here we have Lizzie Borden murdering her own parents in a fit of

rage. The murders happen after years of abuse and negative attitudes from almost everyone she knows. The act of murdering one s parents is far from noble. It could however, be seen as noble seeing as the reason Lizzie kills them is to stand up for her freedom of thought and direction in life. According to the rules laid down in Poetics, pity and fear arise through misfortune and the recognition of the possibility of falling upon similar misfortune (13). In Blood Relations, pity arises out of the way that Lizzie is treated by her parents and by the way her life turns out after the murders. The reader recognizes that he or she could encounter the same circumstance. Lizzie was fairly stable and snapped into a murderous rage with no prior warning. The fact that she gains no reward

for her actions adds to the tragedy of the plot but strays from Aristotle s stipulation that a villainous character must not fall into bad luck from good (13). Lizzie s loss of her family ultimately drives her into a life of loneliness and misery. Furthermore, on the subject of pity and fear, Aristotle professes that truly pitiable occurrences take place between close relations. Parent-child relationships are about the closest relationships that there are. There is no choral section. Therefore, there is no episode. The entire play could be referred to as a complete exode, that is, one complete section of a tragedy after which there is no song of the chorus (12). This can be accounted to the changes in dramatic trends due to Stanislavsky among others. The constant switch between

the dream state and present reality can be compared to a chorus in that the characters in the dream sequences tell the stories of the events prior to the murders. These dream characters dominate a good portion of the play, whereas the chorus is an occasional part in classic tragedy. Blood Relations contains only seven characters, all of which are essential to the plot. None of the events in the plot are irrelevant. All characters and events have an evident effect on the outcome of the play; they are all part of the whole (8). In terms of length, this play is compact. There is no needless banter. It is easy, therefore to comprehend. The reading of such a play will not have the same effect as it will on the stage. It does display the same emotion but not the same intensity as the