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Consider how 'Hamlet' conforms to Aristotle's definition of tragedy according to his Poetics, and how 'Hamletmachine' resists this conformity. Aristotle's Poetics is considered a guide to a well-written tragedy

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Introduction

Theatre Research 1 Assignment One Caroline Ranson Consider how 'Hamlet' conforms to Aristotle's definition of tragedy according to his Poetics, and how 'Hamletmachine' resists this conformity. Aristotle's Poetics is considered a guide to a well-written tragedy. In Aristotle's opinion, plot is the most important aspect of the tragedy, all other parts such as character, diction, and thought stem from the plot. Aristotle defines a tragedy as "an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions". Shakespeare's Hamlet follows this definition for the most part, and even though it is not always in agreement with Aristotle's guidelines, it is still an effective tragedy. Aristotle states that tragedy is "an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude". Hamlet is a good example of this. The play is mainly about Hamlet's mission to avenge his father's death, and this is a 'serious' action. It is also 'complete' in the sense that all the loose ends are tied together at the end. ...read more.

Middle

It should occur in one setting, and there should be one main plot or action. Hamlet breaks all of these rules, for example, the play spans over a significant period of time, although the actions do occur in chronological order, giving it a linear flow. However, it is questionable on whether or not the appearances of the Ghost and the short play that Hamlet wrote drag the time backwards as they both explain things that have happened previously. The setting in Hamlet also does not strictly conform to the unity of place because we know that the play occurs in various settings ranging from Elsinore to a plain in Denmark, although the fact that most of the play takes place in Elsinore suggests that it does loosely follow some of Aristotle's conventions. Finally, there are several plots taking place simultaneously, which break the unity of action. For example, while Hamlet is suffering with the death of his father, Ophelia is going mad because Hamlet is not returning her love. Other events also defer from the main revenge plot: the scene with Hamlet and the skull for example. Another (possible) unity that Aristotle may have intended is unity of character, and Hamlet's character is consistent, but not all of the time. ...read more.

Conclusion

Aristotle also stresses that diction is important to make the tragedy believable. Hamlet uses diction perfectly and everything that the characters say is appropriate for them to say: the king speaks like a king. There is an obvious difference between the ways the king speaks and the way the gravediggers speak because the gravediggers are common men and therefore, speak as though they are common men. Hamletmachine does not use diction: for instance, Ophelia does not speak like a 'lady' ought to speak and Hamlet certainly does not speak like a Prince should. This is a blatant rejection of Aristotle's ideas on what makes an effective tragedy. Aristotle's Poetics is considered the guide to a well written tragedy. In Aristotle's opinion, plot is the most important aspect of the tragedy, all other parts such as character, diction, and thought stem from the plot. Aristotle defines a tragedy as "an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions". Shakespeare's Hamlet follows this definition for the most part, and even though it is not always in agreement with Aristotle's guidelines, it is still an effective tragedy. Word Count: 1787 ...read more.

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