Write a note on Aristotle’s concept of unity of action, with reference to his theory.

Did Aristotle insist on three unities of drama?

Introduction: Aristotle‘s three unities are the principles of grammatical structure relating to action, time and place. The unity of action demands that the action of a tragedy must be a complete whole. In an action, there may be several incidents and events but together, they must constitute one action. The unity of time means that the action of the play should take place in a short internal chronology, ideally no more than 24 hours and the unity of play stands that the action should take place in a minimal number of locations. These three unities have since the Renaissance been considered necessary to create credibility in a play. Further elaboration is discussed below-

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The unity of action: The unity of action is an organic unity, which gives form and meaning of a tragedy. Aristotle lays more emphasis on unity of action. He says,

Tragedy then is a representation of an action that is worthy of serious attention, complete in itself and of some amplitude.

It indicates that the action must be complicated.

Now a whole is that which has a beginning middle and an end.

The beginning must not necessarily follow out of some previous situation, there must be an earlier part of the story. The beginning must be clear and intelligible. It is neither be too long nor too short in size. Then the middle which is consequent upon a situation that is connected with beginning. And finally, the ending which is followed by nothing.

The unity of time: The unity of time is the second of three unities. Unity of time refers that the action of a play should occur within a single circuit of the sun. The action does not continue more than 24 hours. Aristotle says,

In an epic there is no fixed limitation of time, whereas tragedy endeavors to keep as far as possible within a single circuit of the sun or something near that.

According to Aristotle, the spectators will not believe in the reality of an action if a drama lasts more than a single day. If the spectators remain disbelieving the action of a tragedy, it will fail to arouse fear and it will be a futile one.

আরো পড়ুন: Discuss Aristotle’s theory of imitation.

The unity of place: The unity of place means that the action of a drama must take place in a single place. Aristotle puts his favor on unity of place by saying that,

In a play one cannot represent an action with a number of parts going on simultaneously; one is limited to the part on stage and connected with actors.

Conclusion: From the above discussion, it is clear to us that these three unities are an essential part of a successful tragedy. Aristotle mentioned their formative unities by considering at the time of his own. But he lays emphasis on the unity of action and says it is the controlling law of a drama.

Mottaleb Hossain
Mottaleb Hossain

This is Motaleb Hossain, working on studying, a researcher on English literature and Theology.

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