Sample of Book Reviews: “Poetics”, Aristotle

“Poetics” by Aristotle has an exceptionally significant role in a literary and dramatic theory. What is more, it is the very first known treatise on these topics that survived till now (“Poetics” is dated by 335 BCE). The Aristotle’s work suggests the concept of poetic art as an imitation. Depending on the character and object of imitation Aristotle divides the poetry genres.


Aristotle is an ancient Greek philosopher, who was the student of famous philosopher Plato and later the teacher of Alexander III Magnus. Aristotle was elaborating different fields of knowledge from mathematics to poetics.

Organization of “Poetics”

There five main parts of Aristotle’s poetics and they can be listed in a following way:

  1. Preview on dramatic genres, such as comedy and tragedy, and epic poetry. Those are explained as the major expressions of the imitation poetry.
  2. Tragedy’s structure and definition of it. Here Aristotle provides a deep analysis of the tragedy’s components.
  3. Elements of tragedy: catharsis as pity and pleasure experiences by a spectator within watching a play; types of heroes and requirements to them.
  4. Critical questions to tragedy and epic, answers to them.
  5. Discourse on a tragedy as higher form of art than an epic poetry.

Main concepts

A philosopher approaches poetry from a scientific side, thus, he manages to examine it as a phenomenon and then make a hypothesis and provide his own recommendations.

Mimesis (imitation) is a basic principle that lets Aristotle divide poetry on genres and find out the basic laws of constructing tragedy and epic poetry. The matter of poetry is made up of language, melody and rhythm. Language has a significant meaning for epic poetry; however, playing music is not possible without knowing melody and rhythm. Dramatic art mixes all three components: we have the chorus singing, as well as the language of heroes as a part of play.

Aristotle provides his substantial explanation for the notions of tragedy and comedy. While tragedy is a form of dramatic art that tells about virtuous, significant and serious deeds and people, comedy appears as a play that is concentrated on people’s weak sides. Although the superior role is given to a tragedy by Aristotle he does not lessen the importance and greatness of comedy.

Catharsis is one more valuable term that Aristotle brings up to our attention. This effect of poetic art is considered as its chief aim. Aristotle uses this term in metaphorical meaning in order to define releasing of such emotions as pity and fear, which are at the same time a pleasure received from watching dramatic piece. Catharsis is determined to clean the souls of spectator as it lets them get read of fears and other negative feelings by the means of experiencing them on a stage in actor’s performance.

One more vital component is a plot which means the order of actions. Aristotle requires a good plot to have a complex structure – the one that includes changing of the character’s fortune. This process should comprise protagonist’s suffering, which is an earnest of catharsis for the spectator. The characters, according to Aristotle’s work, must be good (high moral values), appropriate (only old character can be wise, for example) and consistent.

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