Why does Aristotle prefer complex plot to simple plot for tragedy?

IntroductionAristotle (384-322) BC has conferred the guidelines for producing literary works especially for tragedy in his “Poetics”. He is so perfect for selecting or preferring plot of tragedy since plot is the soul for tragedy. He stands a number of logics for complex plot to produce a better tragedy.

Definition of plot : Plot refers to the sequence of events or proper arrangement of incidents. According to Aristotle, a simple definition of plot is:

“Plot means a length which allows of a change from misery to happiness

or from happiness to misery is the proper limit of length to be observed.

Genre of plot:  Plot is two types in accordance with Aristotle such as:

Simple plot: It means a plain change of fortune without any twist. The plot of the one act play “Riders to the Sea” by J.M. Synge is an emblem of simple plot.

Complex plot: It indicates a superb twist for the incidents. Aristotle mentions about a complex plot in the 10th chapter of his “Poetics”.

A complex plot is one in which a change is accompanied by a discovery or a reversal or both.

The plot of the Greek tragedy “Oedipus Rex” is a token of complex plot.

Aristotle’s preference: As we know that plot is first and foremost principle of tragedy among the six constituents, it has achieved utmost significance for tragedy. Aristotle prefers complex plot as the plot of tragedy for the following reasons.

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Probability or necessity:

Probability or necessity is the most momentous aspect of the plot of the tragedy. According to Aristotle, the matter of probability or necessity of the plot helps to arrange the incidents in a proper order and certainly it enhances the havoc tragic effect. A simple plot does not well-match for the probability or necessity of the plot. On the other hand, complex plot is very perfect as for example: Oedipus’ doubt about the murderer of Lias is the necessity of the plot that is impossible to set up without complex plot.

Maintenance of completeness: Aristotle’s next bias for the complex plot goes to the maintenance of completeness of tragedy. Aristotle in the first part of the definition of tragedy has mentioned that the plot of tragedy must be completed. Completeness means beginning, middle and end. If the plot of the tragedy is organized in simple plot, the completeness cannot be maintained. “Dr. Faustus” is a tragedy by Cristopher Marlowe written in simple plot having no middle that is why Aristotle chooses complex plot.

Proper amplitude: Aristotle emphasizes that a proper length of any literary work is too pertinent. If the length is the biggest long, it will miss out serious attention. On the contrary, in case of thumping shortness, attention must be vanquished. So, for proper length or magnitude, complex plot is ideal suggested and recommended by Aristotle.

Creating artistic devices: A plain change of fortune cannot bring about complete artistic devices to hold the serious attention of the audience from the beginning to the end since no twist can be created at all. But reversal and discovery-based plot is eligible enough to produce prodigious twist in the story. Thus, complex plot is superior to simple plot.

Purgation of pity and fear: Purgation of pity and fear is not possible without reversal and discovery. No audience will be satisfied about the story of Oedipus and Jocasta because biologically they are mother son. When complex plot discovers that they are victim of fate, the audience become sympathetic to them and also decide that they are very pure.

Avoidance of loose plot construction: Besides, Aristotle suggests that loose plot construction can be confidently avoided by dint of complex plot. Loose plot construction cannot bring any tragic effect even though the character and dialogues are fantastic.

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Conclusion: In fine, it can be asserted that Aristotle’s recommendation about the plot of tragedy is the landmark of his “Poetics”. Though the modern plot construction of drama has been changed, Aristotle is still existed and will be existed forever.

Mottaleb Hossain
Mottaleb Hossain

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

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