Describe Aristotle’s concept of catharsis

Describe Aristotle’s concept of catharsis

Describe Aristotle’s concept of catharsis: Or, discuss the function of tragedy. Or, describe critically Aristotle’s concept of tragic catharsis. Or, critically examine Aristotle’s concept of catharsis in tragedy.

Describe Aristotle’s concept of catharsis

‘Poetics’ is a well known work of Aristotle. In this book he has thrown light on the function of tragedy as well as catharsis. In the sixth chapter of this book Aristotle points out that the function of tragedy is to arouse the emotions of pity and fear and thus it affects the catharsis of such emotions. In fact, catharsis is a Greek word which can be interpreted, in ay of three ways Purgation, Purification and Clarification. Thus, there are three main theories of catharsis. All the critics of Aristotle agree that tragedy arouses the emotions of pity and fear but they disagree about the process by which these emotions are aroused which provide a pleasurable relief.

The first theory of catharsis is Purgation theory

The first theory of catharsis is Purgation theory. It makes catharsis a reflexive process. Tragedy arouses pity and fear and then somehow drives them out. Since Plato had specially castigated tragedy for arousing pity and making spectators timid this is an attractive solution. It make Aristotle’s theory direct answer to Plato. Tragedy does arouse pity and fear says Aristotle but only to drive them out. In the last chapter of Book VIII of Poetics Aristotle discusses the place of music in the Ideal state. Among the benefits, he mentions catharsis. When he first uses the term, he seems to refer explicitly to the Poetics. The fact that he has led to speculations that the last book of Poetics discusses not only comedy but catharsis as well. Thus catharsis is translated as ‘purgation in Poetics.”

The second theory of catharsis is purification theory

The second theory of catharsis is purification theory. The advocates of the purification theory think of catharsis as a general principle applying to emotions in general. They prefer to translate the catharsis clause as “catharsis of such emotions.” This translation transforms pity and fear into representative examples of the whole range of emotions that can be harmful if not properly purified. Thus the purification theory is attractive because it does not involve “driving out” emotion. After all pity is usually considered a good emotion and fear in its proper place is healthy. They should be controlled, but not “driven out.”

The third theory of catharsis is a clarification theory

The third theory of catharsis is a clarification theory, really, catharsis has something to do with an enhanced understanding of the events depicted in tragedy. The tragic poet presents them free of accidents that obscure their larger meaning, leaving spectator “Face to face with universal”. The tragic poet begins by selecting a series of incidents that are intrinsically pitiable or fearful. He may derive them from history or legend. But he can follow the lead of agathon and make them up, as do most modern writers. He, then presents them in such a way as to bring out the probable or necessary principles that unite them in a single action from its beginning to its end. When the spectator has witnessed a tragedy of this type, he will have learnt something. The terms of universal will have become manifest and the act of learning, says Aristotle, will be enjoyable

According to Aristotle, catharsis of the emotions of pity and fear which include anxictics, fear, morbid, grief, or self-pity, sadistic or masochistic desires. And the sense of guilt that these engender and are engendered by provides pleasurable relief. Aristotle believes that the aim of tragedy is to give pleasure. a peculiar kind of which accompanies the release of feeling effected facts. What happens today on the rare occasions when we see a great tragedy performed? The human interest holds us. We share the feelings of people like Othello or Macbeth.

These are all people like ourselves, yet, somehow, even in the modern dramas, raised to a higher power. They achieve a slightly more. Than human dignity. And yet we fully share their feelings and share them the more easily and exactly because the poet has excluded all those circumstances and considerations which in real life confuse our feelings and deny us pleasure. The author embodies his emotions in dramatic form. As we share it, it becomes our own if the tragedy has its way with us, our secret emotion and perhaps also the bodily secretion of tears is released. When the storm of excitement subsides we are left with a sense of pleasurable relief.

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