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Sadiqullah Khan

Aristotle and Sappho IV

The Plot

Act IV

Scene: At lyceum in the museum


The implied function of Tragedy
Nothing but a statement arousing
Fear and Pity. It purges the audience
Pleasurable. We call it Catharsis.
An emotional release.


Thy master sage, such a distaste
A suppression of human, an emotion
That surge, an effect for a cause
Imitate the cruel life, a happy nature
Be art ignoble to arouse love
Fear and pity: What as humans we can
Otherwise express. A moral’s high esteem
Such a deception of the self he espoused
Such a lie unto himself, a harm more ignoble.


Of the constituents six,
Three are concerned with objects
Of imitation.They by number are
Plot or piece of life (human actions
And experience) : the characters of the agents
Or (dramatis personae) : the Thoughts
Expressed by the agents.
Two elements are the medium of imitation
Namely Diction and Melody.
The sixth and the last is Spectacle;
By which a story is presented
On the stage and before the audience.


What is the essence amongst the six.

The life and the soul
Characters drawn with great psychological skill
There may be great poetic and rhetoric brilliance
But that does not constitute a Tragedy
Tragedy in its essence is a story
There cannot be a picture without a shape or design.


What is Peripety and Discovery?


The most powerful elements of emotional interest
The Peripeties and Discoveries.


What does it mean master
Though we do, we see and imitate
An acute brilliance, like a star shining
O sage, go on, like a muse
Like a story do tell
All that is done, all that is beautiful.


Peripety is reversal of intention
Brought about by a blindness to the truth.
So that the purpose with which certain set of circumstances
Is defeated. The realization of truth is Anagnorisis or Discovery.
The Plot is essential design to a play
In which the choice of alternatives is not easy to choose
Or is not obvious.


Which comes first, Plot or Character?


The first essential, life and soul of a Tragedy
Is Plot. The Characters come second.
Compare the Parallel in painting
The most beautiful colors laid without order
Will not give the same pleasure
Than a simple black and white sketch of a portrait.
The Thought comes third.
The power of saying whatever can be said
Or what is appropriate to the occasion;
This is what in the speeches in Tragedy
Comes under Politics and Rhetoric.
One must not confuse Thought and Character
Character in a play is that which reveals the moral purpose
Of the agents. The sort of things they see or avoid.
Speeches which do not make it obvious
Are not expressive of Character.
Hence there is no room for Character
In a speech on a purely indifferent subject.
Thought, therefore is some universal proposition
Proving or disproving some particular point.
The fourth is Diction: the expression of Thought in words.
Of the remaining two Melody, a source of greatest pleasure
Of all the elements. The Spectacle though an attraction
Is of least importance, and has least to do with the art of poetry.
The tragic effect is quite possible without a public performance
And actors, and besides, presentation up of the Spectacle
Is more a matter of dressmaker and stage designer than the poet.

End of Act IV

Sadiqullah Khan
September 20,2013.

Submitted: Saturday, October 05, 2013
Edited: Sunday, May 25, 2014

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