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Reflective Essays

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The classic tragedy, as defined by Aristotle, has six major parts. These parts include a plot, characters, theme, melody, spectacle, and language. All stories, according to Aristotle must have a beginning, middle, and end, and must follow a logical sequence according to these six elements.

The plot is the series of events, or sequence in which the action of the play occurs. Plot must follow a cause and effect relationship, which follows a logical pattern. Characters are the people in the play, who have certain qualities that can be determined by what they say, do and what others say about them. The theme of the play is the general feeling or statement made by the author that presents an observation or thought to the audience. Melody is the musical quality of the play, which includes a change of pitch by the voice, musical instruments , and also includes the high and low points of the play giving it an overall melodic quality. Spectacle includes the visual elements of the play, anything that is observed by sight. Often in modern movies and plays spectacle can be overdone, especially if a reason for the spectacle cannot be found. Language is the dialog or speech that makes up the story, and is used by characters to present the play to the audience.

Aristotle lays out a very specific definition of what a tragedy should include, and how each element should be presented. He tells us that the tragedy must include these six elements and that they must be laid out in a logical manner. Aristotle sets up the framework for a tragedy that is used with or without the playwright's knowledge for innumerable classical and modern plays.

3. Along with giving us the six elements of a tragedy, Aristotle also gives us four parts that should be included in a tragic hero. Sophocles' character Oedipus is considered to be the classic example of a tragic hero. This is attributed to the fact that Oedipus clearly demonstrates all four of the characteristics that make up the tragic hero as defined by Aristotle.

According to Aristotle, the tragic hero must be a good, as well as great person. What this means is that he must hold high moral goals and ideals for himself as well as being of high or noble stature in society. The tragic hero must have a character flaw, this could be some excess or inadequacy that the hero possesses. This character flaw must lead to a downfall for the hero, causing him pain or suffering in some way, hence the term tragedy. An enlightenment for the hero must follow at the end of the story to give us an idea that some greater good was accomplished or that some important lesson was learned.

Oedipus demonstrates these four attributes of a tragic hero very clearly. He was a great person in that he was a prince in both Corinth and Thebes, as well as the king of Thebes. He demonstrated high moral standards through his selfless love of Thebes, and his relentless search for the truth, as well as his sense of responsibility for his actions. Oedipus' character flaw was said to be his hubris or excessive pride, his not knowing when to quit and his thinking he could circumvent his fate. We also discussed in class, that perhaps he should have been more careful about who he murdered, having a fate as he did. His downfall was obviously having to live with the knowledge of what he did, being banished and blinded by his own hand. In his own words, "I am misery!" Oedipus realizes at the end that he is not as great as he once thought he was and that he cannot circumvent the will of the gods. The theme of darkness and light is used throughout the play as a symbol or knowledge or enlightenment. When Oedipus is blinded at the end he is then able to "see" the truth.

6. The theory of incongruity is a comical theory that is based on the idea that a happening does not "size-up" or "fit" the situation, therefore it is considered to be humorous. This theory of comedy is often used in modern as well as classical stories. Several other aspects of comedy also work complementary with incongruity, such as ludicrous contrast, as well as "slap-stick" comedy.

Several examples of incongruity can be found throughout classical as well as modern comedy. Lysistrata involves this idea of incongruity through the play. The idea of women taking the akropolis was quite incongruent with the position of women at that time. This, along with the use of the elderly chorus of men, provides several comical scenes in Lysistrata, such as the one where the women empty the pitchers over the men's heads. Incongruity is used throughout modern comedies such as the Naked



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