Poetics: Chapter 19 - Summary

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      In the sixth chapter, Aristotle had attributed six elements to Tragedy. Of these, he has discussed Plot ad Characters in detail. Plot and Characters are the internal elements of Tragedy. Another such internal element of Tragedy is Thought.


      Thought and Diction are quite closely related. Characters express thought through language, i.e., their speech. Thought is the content of Diction. Thought or the intellectual element expressed itself in the following ways:

      (i) Proof and refutation: Thought is expressed by the characters in the words they use to prove or disprove something. They might try to prove their own point or refute another's argument.

      (ii) To produce emotional effect A character may bring into his speech various emotions in order to persuade and convince. In the modern age, one tends to separate thought and emotion. But to Aristotle, emotion could be considered as a part of thought. Thought is present both in speeches that involve reasoning and in speeches that are intended to reveal the emotions of the speaker.

      (iii) To minimize or maximize: This means that thought is expressed in speeches through which a character seeks to indicate the significance of a certain thing, i.e. to maximize or minimize the importance of a thing. A character's speech could express the thought in such a way that something is made to look great and significant or noble. On the other hand, the speech makes the thing appear trivial and unimportant.

      Aristotle makes it clear the speeches expressing the thought of the characters should be appropriate to the particular situation. The effect of the Plot is added to by the expression of thought through the speeches of the characters. For a better understanding of thought and diction, Aristotle advises the consultation of books on the subject of Rhetoric.

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