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THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH William Shakespeare. Aristotle’s Poetics  “Tragedy is an imitation of a serious and complete action of some magnitude…Plot is.

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Presentation on theme: "THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH William Shakespeare. Aristotle’s Poetics  “Tragedy is an imitation of a serious and complete action of some magnitude…Plot is."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH William Shakespeare

2 Aristotle’s Poetics  “Tragedy is an imitation of a serious and complete action of some magnitude…Plot is the imitation of action…Tragedy is an imitation, not of human beings but of action, life, happiness, and unhappiness.”  Mimesis- imitation of action  “…the principal means whereby tragedy makes its effects are the parts of the plot: reversals of fortune and recognition scenes.”  Anagnorisis- recognition  Peripeteia- a reversal

3 Poetics Continued  “Every tragedy, then, must have six parts on which its quality depends: plot, character, speech, mind, spectacle, and melody…Plot, then, is the starting point, the soul as it were, of tragedy; and character comes next.”

4 Poetics Continued  “The plot, too, should be one, just as in other arts of imitation there is a unified imitation of one thing. Since it is an imitation of action, it should be about one whole action; the parts should be combined in such a way as to make a difference to and disturb the whole if one part is moved from its position or taken away altogether. Anything the presence or absence of which goes unnoticed is no real part of the whole.”

5 In Layman’s Terms…  Hero has ONE SINGLE problem.  Hero tries to solve the problem, but the hero makes the problem worse.  Hero has to deal with the worsened problem.  Hero either solves the problem (COMEDY) OR hero is solved by the problem (TRAGEDY: ANAGNORISIS).

6 No “Deus ex Machina”  “Plainly, the unraveling of the plot should spring from the plot itself, and not from the deus ex machina, as in the Medea, or in the way in which the events concerning the sailing away in the Iliad do. The deus ex machina should be used to deal with events that lie outside the drama- either things that have happened beforehand, but of which humans cannot know; or things that are to happen and need to be announced…”  Deus ex machina= machine of the gods/ supernatural intervention

7 Catharsis  “By means of pity and fear, it contrives to purify the emotions of pity and fear.”  Catharsis- purging of pity and fear  “Fear and pity can be aroused by purely visual effects, or they can be aroused by the actual structure of the plot; the reaction is more fundamental in the second case, and he will be the better poet who brings it about. For quite independently of what one may see, the plot should be so composed that anyone who hears the vents related shudders and feels pity at what is happening; this certainly happens to anyone who hears the story of Oedipus.”

8 TRAGEDY A fictional work depicting the fall of a person of high degree Essential difference between tragedy and comedy: their depiction of human nature Comedy: dwells on human weakness Tragedy: emphasizes human greatness Comedy vs. Tragedy

9 The Tragic Hero The tragic hero is a person of noble stature, meaning that s/he is not a normal individual but one who is great in two respects:  Social importance (usually a prince or king)  The possession of an extraordinary quality (passion, aspiration, nobility of mind, etc.)

10 The hero’s misfortune is not wholly deserved. What most impresses us about the tragic hero is his/her greatness, not his/her weakness. The hero’s fall results in some increase in awareness, some gain in self-knowledge. There are two sides to this gain in knowledge: His/her responsibility for the fall A significant insight, not just an increase in knowledge but in wisdom.

11 The tragic hero is imperfect, his/her fall resulting from that imperfection, i.e., the tragic hero is responsible for his/her own fall. Aristotle: “an act of injustice” committed either 1) out of ignorance or 2) with the belief that some greater good will be served. His term for it: hamartia. Later critics: a defect of character, or “tragic flaw” Other critics: not a lack but an excess of virtue, a nobility of character that unfits him/her for life among mortals.

12 The Fall Tragic hero makes a mistake and compromises meaningful status in society Suffering As a result of a tragic mistake, loses his/her place in society Reconciliation Experiences insight Takes responsibility for his/her fall, which s/he realizes is his/her fault Essential Action

13 Terms  Aside- words spoken by a character intended to be heard by the audience while other characters are onstage; a character’s inner thoughts  Soliloquy- words spoken by a character alone onstage to the audience; reveals innermost thoughts  Blank Verse- unrhymed iambic pentameter  Comic Relief- a humorous episode in a tragedy intended to break the tension or heighten the emotional impact by means of contrast; also foreshadows trouble  Foil- two characters in the same situation/ status in society that contrast in order to highlight facets of the main character’s personality

14 Rhetorical Appeals  Ethos- appeals to codes of ethics  Pathos- appeals to emotions and passions/ “tugs on the heartstrings”  Logos- appeals to logic and reasoning

15 Macbeth  Shakespeare’s Source= Holinshed’s Chronicles  Shortest play- probably written in 1606  Written as a tribute to James I  Witches- demonology  Banquo- ancestors  Divine right of kings  Blank verse with prose (mad scene, drunken porter scene)  Setting: Anglo-Saxon period Scotland

16 Motifs  Blood/water  Supernatural  Light/dark  Appearance/ reality  Animals

17 Essential Themes  Appearances can be deceiving  Unchecked ambition leads to corruption.

18 Main Characters  Macbeth- noble soldier who learns that he is to be king from the witches/ acts on the witches’ prophecies  Banquo- Mac’s friend/ foil character/ does not act on the witches’ prophecies  Lady Macbeth- Mac.’s wife/ strong, resolute/ wants her hubby to be king more than he does  Duncan- King of Scotland, good king, poor judge of character  Macduff- noble soldier  Malcolm & Donalbain- Duncan’s two sons

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