A narrative, according to Aristotle, must have pity, dread, and catharsis. These are the fundamental components of a fascinating tale. The essential takeaway here is to maintain your attention on the audience rather than your characters, storyline, or yourself as a writer. It's all about the story, people.
In addition to these three essentials, Aristotle also believed that a narrative poem should have unity, resolution, and variety. While we'll discuss each of these in more detail below, first let's take a look at how Aristotle defines each one.
Unification occurs when the various parts of the poem relate back to the main plot line or character. For example, in "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe, the various poems within the sequence all deal with death, but they all lead up to and resolve around the theme of loneliness. Thus, the poems themselves are unified by this common connection to sadness and loss.
Resolution involves explaining what has happened (or will happen) as a result of the main plot line or character reaching a decision. In "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, resolution comes at the end of the poem when the mariner decides not to tell anyone about his encounter with Death. This decision is what resolves the conflict between his desire to share his story and his fear of what might happen if he did.
Catharsis, pity, and fear Aristotle argues in Poetics that the fundamental goal of tragedy is to bring about "purification" of feeling. He defines this term as a change of attitude toward life or society, which changes are intended to be both good and effective.
Aristotle states that poetry has two aims: edification (ἐκπαίρομαι) and pleasure (χάρτης). Edification refers to the use of poetry to improve ourselves or others through understanding. This is what poets aim to achieve by telling stories that appeal to our emotions.
By describing what makes certain people or things worthy of love or hate, poets seek to influence their audience to have positive or negative feelings toward them. This is why poets must know their subjects well; they need to find what it is that people most want to see changed or saved. Only then can they write poems that will make their audiences feel something.
Poets also aim to give us pleasure. This does not mean making fun of people or being frivolous, but rather seeking out what makes things interesting or exciting and writing about these topics.
Aristotle refers to the moral feelings elicited by tragedy as "pleasure suitable to tragedy." In his Poetics, he believes that tragedy should evoke feelings of "pity and horror" in audiences. He also claims that this is why tragedies are more effective than other genres of poetry.
In addition to pity and horror, Aristotle says that tragedy also produces feelings of fear and excitement. This is because tragedies deal with violent or frightening subjects such as war, murder, and betrayal. Thus, they are not appropriate for everyone. Only people who have an interest in these topics can enjoy them.
People watch tragedies to be moved and to learn. The poet aims to engage and move his audience by choosing important subjects for which there is much discussion among philosophers and politicians. By discussing these issues together, he hopes to reach some consensus about what is right and wrong.
Tragedies also teach us important lessons about human nature. Aristotle argues that we are naturally drawn to tragedy because it shows us how weak and vulnerable we are. This makes us want to look after those who suffer and lose their lives bravely fighting for what they believe in. We also learn from tragedies that certain actions have disastrous consequences. This reminds us not to repeat the mistakes of others.
The goal of tragedy, according to Aristotle, is to cause "catharsis" in the audience—to generate feelings of sorrow and terror in them and purify them of these emotions so that they leave the theater feeling cleaned and uplifted, with a heightened understanding of the ways of gods and mankind. Aristotle also believed that tragedy could help educate and improve its audience by making them more aware of societal issues and problems.
Tragedy differs from other genres of poetry because it aims to produce an emotional response in its audience. This can be done through plot and character development, but also through the use of music, dance, and drama. Tragic poems often include scenes of violence and death, which may frighten us today, but would not have been as dangerous at the time they were written. Women and children would have been protected from such things, since ancient societies usually had harsher attitudes toward violence against others. Men might have been encouraged to fight one another in order to decide who was worthy of love or marriage, but such activities are not seen in classical tragedies.
People watch movies and TV shows today because they want to be entertained, but Aristotle said that we should watch movies and TV shows out of interest or usefulness. He thought that tragedy could offer us this same benefit by causing us to feel sorry for the people on stage and thus make us more compassionate toward others.