Aristotle, Poetics (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Arist. Poet.].
<<Arist. Poet. 1450a.1 Arist. Poet. 1450a.20 (Greek) >>Arist. Poet. 1450b.1

1450a.20it's their actions and experiences that make them happy or the opposite. They do not therefore act to represent character, but character-study is included for the sake of the action. It follows that the incidents and the plot are the end at which tragedy aims, and in everything the end aimed at is of prime importance. Moreover, you could not have a tragedy without action, but you can have one with out character-study. Indeed the tragedies of most modern poets are without this, and, speaking generally, there are many such writers, whose case is like that of Zeuxis compared with Polygnotus. [Note] The latter was good at depicting character, but there is nothing of this in Zeuxis's painting. A further argument is that if a man writes a series of speeches full of character and excellent in point of diction and thought, he will not achieve the proper function of tragedy nearly so well as a tragedy which, while inferior in these qualities, has a plot or arrangement of incidents. And furthermore, two of the most important elements in the emotional effect of tragedy, "reversals" and "discoveries," [Note] are parts of the plot. And here is further proof: those who try to write tragedy are much sooner successful in language and character-study than in arranging the incidents. It is the same with almost all the earliest poets.

The plot then is the first principle and as it were the soul of tragedy: character comes second. It is much the same also in painting;



Aristotle, Poetics (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Arist. Poet.].
<<Arist. Poet. 1450a.1 Arist. Poet. 1450a.20 (Greek) >>Arist. Poet. 1450b.1

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