Greek Theatre

Greek, being the first people to produce artistic work in theatres, formed a basis of modern theatre. Most modern theatres base they work on principles that were used in ancient Greek theatres. Most poems that were produced for ancient Greek theatres were applied in the Aristotle principles of speeches. The poetic to Oedipus the King by Sophocles, one of the ancient Greek theatre works, in immense accounts applies to Aristotle principles. This essay seeks to analyse how the writer of this poem has applied six elements, which Aristotle talks about, to a good speech. The analysis will first give a clear definition of tragedy as given by Aristotle.

According to Aristotle, tragedy can be defined as the act of imitating an action in which it is complete, serious, as well as of a given magnitude. He argues that tragedy is found in languages that are overstated with each type of artistic enrichment; a number of this enhancement tends to be found in different sections of the play in question; in the outline of an action rather than that of narrative. These enhancements incidences tend to arouse some sort of fear, as well as pity. In order to accomplish it, intended purpose tragedy should have six sections/parts; these sections do determine the quality of the play in terms of characters, plot, thought, diction, melody and spectacle.

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The discourse known as the Poetic had been written for more than 50 years following the passing away of Sophocles. One of the greatest admirers of Sophocles’ work on ‘’Oedipus the King ‘’was Aristotle, whereby he considered this work as a perfect example of tragedy. It is, therefore, not a surprise, that the analysis truly fits the play perfectly. This paper will, therefore, use this play to demonstrate six elements of Aristotle in relation to analysis of what tragedy entails as a part of literary genre.

The first element of tragedy, according to Aristotle, is a plot. It is one of the most vital elements of the tragedy. According to Aristotle, plot is that arrangement of various incidences in a play that is, not the flow of the story itself, but rather ways in which incidents are offered to the intended audience, the overall structure of the artistic work. Aristotle is of the view that tragedies, in cases where the result largely depends on a firmly constructed effect and cause series of actions, tend to be superior in comparison to those events that in a way depend on the personality, as well as the central character. The plot of Oedipus the King fully meets qualities of a good plot, according to Aristotle’s plot principle.

Almost all incidents found in this play are parts of a firmly constructed effect and cause series. The epidemic that takes place in Thebes forces Oedipus to sent out Creon for consultations with the prophesy of Delphi. The oracle, in turn, replies that those involved in the murder of Laius should be exiled from Thebes. This revelation forces Oedipus to enunciate a curse on those who murdered Laius, and he sends for Teriesias. When Teriesias arrives, she accuses Oedipus of being the murderer, though the king thinks that he knows the accused as innocent, he raises an accusation finger on Creon of making a plot with Teiresias, not in favour of him. These events lead to a quarrel between the two, which brings Jocasta to the scene from the house with an intention calming down her companion, as well as proving to him that oracles at times are not to be dependable, she recounts again of how the death of Laius occurred. These events within the play are a clear indication of the Aristotle principle on tragedy in relation to plot. One event leads to the occurrence of another event.

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According to Aristotle the second most essential element in a tragedy is the character. In a decent tragedy, the character will tend to support the development of the plot, for example, in case of individual motivations, they will be directly connected to the section of the effect and cause series of actions that produce fear and pity to the group of audience in question. The character should be well-known, as well as prosperous; this is intended to change his state of affairs from the decent state to a wrong state.  This change in the state should result from some immense frailty or errors rather than vice committed by the character. This kind of a plot is probably going to generate some sort of fear and pity from the audience. This element of tragedy by Aristotle has best been used in the play, Oedipus the King. The author of this play has used this element of character to develop his plot. One used Oedipus, the oracle, Creon, the messenger, the wife of Oedipus among other characters to develop the plot of the play. Through these characters, outcomes of the play from one scene to the other are able to develop in a series. The behaviour of one character tends to influence the behaviour of the other character.

The third element that is Aristotle coming up with about tragedy is thought. The element is quite crucial in any artistic work. It is usually found in cases where something is can be proved or not be proved, or in other cases, a wide-ranging axiom is enunciated. Little was said by Aristotle in relation to this element of tragedy. He says that speeches used in a play should in one way reveal the character of a given protagonist within the play. This element can be said to be related to themes that the author of any given artistic work is trying to convey to his or her audience. The main theme of the play is brought out by various characters. The theme of conflict is clearly developed through two characters Oedipus and Creon.  One accuses the other of being a murderer, while the other one accuses the other of making a plot against him. The author is able to develop the theme of conflict through two characters.

The fourth element of tragedy as outlined by Aristotle is a diction. This is the expression of a certain meaning in some words. These words should be in such a way that they are appropriate and proper to the type of the plot that is used in the play. Aristotle in this case puts emphasis on the usage of metaphors in the theatre work, in order to bringing out a given message/meaning. This element is best used in Oedipus the King. The pattern of metaphors in the play tends to support the development of the plot. The main prototype of imagery used in this play is pollution and sickness, darkness and light, sight and blindness. These metaphors are used to illustrate various themes, actions, as well as the character, but in no way are they part of above meanings.

Another feature of tragedy outlined by Aristotle is melody or songs; here he refers to the musical feature of the refrain. Aristotle is of the argument that choruses should be fully incorporated into the art work, like any given actor. They should be incorporated in such a way that they contribute to the development of the plot. The play does offer a decent illustration of nature as an error or mistake. Sophocles uses songs in his play to bring out various themes in the play. For instance, he uses a song to describe the down fall of Oedipus from a powerful state to a quite devastating state of affairs.

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The last element of the tragedy, as outlined by Aristotle, is spectacle. This is the intended audience of the play. He is of the argument that the artistic work should in one way be emotionally attractive to the audience/spectacle. He is of the view that superior poets/artists tend to depend on the inner arrangement of the work at hand, instead of spectacle, in order to awake the fear and pity. The author of the play in question does apply spectacle to win a favour among the audience of the play. For instance, he uses the case of Oedipus downfall to win pity among the audience. In one way or another, one has pity with Oedipus who through circumstances beyond his control falls from the power. This is one of the best instances within the play that best illustrates the use of spectacle, in order to bring out pity and fear among the audience.

In conclusion, the work of Sophocles is an excellent illustration of Aristotle’s literate genre of tragedy.  The author uses the six features of tragedy though the play.

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