According to Aristotle’s theory of Tragedy in the Poetics, there are six elements required, listed in order of importance: 1) Plot; 2) Character; 3) Thought or Theme; 4) Diction, sometimes now called voice; 5) Song or Melody and 6) Spectacle. The fifth element may seem not to…
Even though they have changed a little, all of Aristotle’s elements for tragedy are here.
Plot is the most important element discussed in Aristotle’s poetics. He insists that the play must be a construct built upon cause and effect, and that both of these must be within the context of the play, and the cause must precede the effect. The tragedy must be important, showing some universal theme.
But the most important of these is the putting-together (? structuring) of the events. For tragedy is a mimesis not of men [simply] but of an action, that is, of life. 20 Thats how it is that they certainly do not act in order to present their characters: they assume their characters for the sake of the actions [they are to do]. And so the [course of] events -- the plot -- is the end of tragedy, and the end is what matters most of all. (Aristotle 21)
If we look at Death of a Salesman, we find several plots within the play and all are complete and flow chronologically from cause to effect. However, the main story centers around the inability of Willy to change, which cost him everything. Willy is an old fashioned salesman in a new fast moving world, and he has been left behind. His dreams for his children are just as passé and unrealistic, as there is no way they can every be realized, and Willy cannot let go of them. He lives in a fantasy world he created, and can no longer separate it from reality. Each of the boys has his own tragedy, life ambitions never realized, because they were never allowed to create their own dreams and could never achieve those of their father. Biff could never get past catching his father with another woman and knowing that his father gave that woman his mother’s silk stockings. Finally, there is Linda Loman, possibly the most tragic of all, because she did nothing. Linda Loman deferred to her husband, even with the boys, so she is totally ineffectual, and because she entrusted her dreams to Willy, she loses by default. All she ...
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