An Analysis of Hamlet Under Aristotle’s Theory on Tragedy Essay

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An Analysis of Hamlet under Aristotle’s Theory on Tragedy
Aristotle, as a world famous philosopher, gives a clear definition of tragedy in his influential masterpiece Poetics, a well-known Greek technical handbook of literary criticism. In Aristotle’s words, a tragedy is “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude, language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play, the form of action, not of narrative, through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions”(Aristotle 12). He believes that a tragedy should be serious and complete in appropriate and pleasurable language; the plot of tragedy should be dramatic, whose
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Any event in a play must indispensable to the main issue. In Hamlet, seeing old Hamlet’s ghost by two sentries and their friend is the reason why Hamlet is able to learn about the truth of his father’s death. It is the staging of a play re-enacting his father's murder that assures Hamlet that Claudius is the guilty murderer to his father by studying his reaction. The killing of Polonius by Hamlet is the cause of Laertes’ challenge to Hamlet. Any part of scenes is responsible for the wholeness of Hamlet’s plot. This completeness of plot is also in line with Aristotle’s idea of a tragic play because it must be in dramatic form instead of narrative form
In the view of Aristotle, The tragic hero should experience change which “should come about as the result, not of vice, but of some great error or frailty in a character” (23). That is to say, a good plot should have periphery or discovery. Such a plot is most likely to generate pity and fear in the audience, for “pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves.” Shakespeare perfectly bases his creation of Hamlet on this principle. In Hamlet, Prince Hamlet once had a happy family and in the early period of time, he has an enthusiastic spirit and positive attitude towards life. Ophelia, the character in Hamlet once said: “The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s eye, tongue sword; the expectancy and rose of the state; the glass of fashion and the mould of form; the observed of all

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