Literary Criticism Page 2

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Aristotle's POETICS Page 2 ( link to previous page)
By Dr.Dilip Barad

  1. This page continues from Literary_Criticism. If you have directly come here, please go back to the main page by clicking the link Literary_Criticism. Read the Unit, attempt the Self Assessment Questions and then come here to check your Answers.
  2. This page has glossary of difficult terms with weblink of online dictionaries to see its meanings.
  3. On this page your will be able to read the list of reference and further readings also.

SLMfeedb.png Answers to SAQs

Answers to Self-Assessment Questions 1

1. Fill in the blanks

i. – (b) Hen and Egg is the right answer. If your answer is (a), you have done it wrong, as it could be ‘tree and seed’ and not ‘tree and fruit’.; If your answer is (b), you are absolutely right, the debate of who came first critic and artist is as difficult to answer as whether hen came first or egg ; (if your answer is (c), this is wrong as art is criticism of life and so art follows life.

ii. – (c) Art and literature. The critics of ‘architecture’ or ‘gardening’ are architect or gardener. But that of poetry or novel or drama, may or may not be poet, novelist or dramatist.

2. Choose the right option:

i. – (a) Judge of poets is only the faculty of poets… The other two statements are made by Dr. Samuel Johnson and Alexander Pope, respectively.

ii. – (b) art of judging the merits and demerits … The first option (a) is John Dryden’s view towards critics. It is not the definition of criticism. The function of criticism Is not to find faults, but to give just and unbiased observation. Criticism is meant to give better understanding and interpretation of the creative text. It is not an exercise in finding faults in poem or novel or play.

iii. – (a) He possesses the artist’s vision and has … The person who merely criticizes or praises art is not a true critic. True critic is a genius with artistic vision. He may not have ability to create poetry but has capability to judge it.

Answers to Self-Assessment Questions 2

• Choose the right option:

1. ‘(a) Dialogues’ is the right answer. Though the dialogues have high poetic quality, they were not written in the form of poetry. Neither were they written in paragraphs or story telling forms as Panchtantra stories.

2. ‘(a) Educational, philosophical and moral’ is the right answer. Though he objected poetry on the grounds of morality, he did not explicitly discussed the obscenity and sexuality of the poetry of his time.

• Fill in the blanks:

3. ‘(a) Falsehood and mother is the right answer. Plato believed that poetry is breeder of falsehood and thus mother of all lies because poetry dealt with illusion and not reality. Poet’s creation is twice removed from reality and thus false and all lies are dealt in poetry.

• Say whether the following statement is true or false:

4. ‘(b) False’ is the correct answer, because philosophy deals with the idea – the ultimate reality whereas poetry deals with the imitation of an idea, i.e. things which are twice removed from the reality. So philosophy is better than poetry.

Answers to Self-Assessment Questions 3

• Choose the right option:

1. ‘(b) Poetics and Rhetoric’ is the right answer whereas ‘(a) Dialogues’ is wrong as Plato wrote his treatise in this form and so far as (c) & (d) are not the names of treatises written by Aristotle. In Poetics, he deals with all these topics.

2. ‘(c) David Daiches is the correct answer. Bywater and S.H.Butcher are known for their famous translations on Poetics in English, whereas Scott-James is also renowned critic on Aristotle, but the give statement is not summarized by him.

• Fill in the blanks:

3. ‘(b) Aesthetics and morals’ is right answer. Plato confused the study of aesthetics with the study of morals. He told that poetry is breeder of falsehood and poets are mother of all lies.

• Say whether the following statement is true or false:

4. ‘(b) False is correct answer’. In fact, Aristotle agreed with Plato’s theory of mimesis/imitation. Aristotle agrees with Plato in calling the poet an imitator and creative art, imitation. He imitates one of the three objects – things as they were/are, things as they are said/thought to be or things as they ought to be. In other words, he imitates what is past or present, what is commonly believed and what is ideal. But he disagreed with Plato is calling poetry twice removed from reality and breeder of falsehood.

Answers to Self-Assessment Questions 4

• Complete the following sentence by choosing the right option:

1. ‘(a) an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude’ is the right answer. If you got your answer wrong, please read the definition of tragedy in section 1.5.2.

• Choose the right option:

2. ‘(d) through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation-catharsis of these and similar emotions’ is the correct answer. The function/aim of tragedy is to shake up in the soul the impulses of pity ad fear, to achieve what he calls Catharsis. The emotions of pity ad fear find a full and free out-let in tragedy. Their excess is purged and we are lifted out of our selves and emerged nobler than before. The options (a) deals with the imitation of action, (b) with the language of the tragedy and (c) with the manner of presentation of tragedy. Thus they don’t refer to the function of the tragedy.

• Fill in the blanks:

3. ‘(c) Object, medium and manner’ is the right answer. The object defines whether it is serious or trivial literature; medium differentiates fine arts from the work of literature and manner classifies play form other genres of literature. The option (a) is wrong because words, colours and music are medium of expression; (b) is wrong as it is the object of imitation and (d) is wrong as it deals with the manner of imitation.

• Say whether the following statement is true or false:

4. ‘(b) False’ is the true answer. According to Aristotle metre/verse alone is not the distinguishing feature of poetry or imaginative literature in general. Even scientific and medical treatises may be written in verses. Verse will not make them poetry.

Answers to Self-Assessment Questions 5

• Choose the right option:

1. ‘(d)’ is the right answer. The last line of the definition -‘through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these and similar emotions’- substantiates the theory of Catharsis.

2. ‘(a) F.L.Lucas’ is the correct answer. He is the writer of the book Tragedy: Serious Drama in Relation to Aristotle’s Poetics which throws illuminating light on the theory of catharsis. W.Macniele Dixon has given psycho-analytical study of the theory of catharsis and Bywater & Butcher are know for the translations of Poetics.

3. ‘(c) is the right answer. To translate Catharsis as purgation or purification today is misleading owing to the change of meaning which the word has undergone. The theory of humours is outdated in the medical science. ‘Purgation’ has assumed different meaning. It is no longer what Aristotle has in mind. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to translate Catharsis as ‘moderating’ or ‘tempering’ of the passions.

• Say whether the following statement is true or false:

4. ‘(a) the sentence is True. Catharsis established tragedy as a drama of balance. Sorrow alone would be ugly and repulsive. Beauty pure would be imaginative and mystical. These together constitute what may be called tragic beauty. Pity alone would be sentimentality. Fear alone would make us cowards. But pity and fear, sympathy and terror together constitute the tragic feeling which is most delightful though it is tearfully delightful. Tragic beauty and tragic delight which tragedy evokes constitutes the aesthetics of balance as propounded for the first time by Aristotle in his theory of Catharsis.

Answers to Self-Assessment Questions 6

• Choose the right option:

1. ‘(b) is correct answer’. If your answer is wrong, refer agiant to section 1.7.1. Plot is the most important component of tragedy. then comes Character in the importance. It is followed by Thought, Diction, Song/Melody and Spectacle.

2. ‘(b) David Daiches is the right answer’. Bywater and Butcher only tanslated Greek Poetics into English. F.L.Lucas wrote about theory of catharsis. It is David Daiches, renowned critic, who simplified several ambiguous concepts of Poetics.

3. ‘(d) is the right answer. It is shocking and disturbs one’s faith if a good man comes to bad end. So (a) is wrong. It is neither moving nor moral if a bad man comes to good end. So (b) is wrong. Its is moral but not moving if a bad man meets bad end. So (c) is also wrong. There remains but one option. A rather good man – coming to bad end. It is an ideal situation to arouse the feelings of pity and fear among the audience.

4. ‘(d) All the given sentences are true.’ They all describe the characteristics of the Tragic Hero.

• Say whether the following statement is true or false:

5. ‘(a) the given statement is true.’

6. ‘(b) The sentence is false. The correct answer is ‘Othello is the modern/renaissance example, Oedipus in the ancient/Greek, are the two most conspicuous examples of ruin wrought by characters, noble, indeed, but not without defects, acting in the dark and, as it seemed, for the best.

7. ‘(b) is the right answer. The give statement is false. Hamartia is practically removed from the modern plays. The hero in the modern plays is the victim of circumstance – a mere puppet. The villain in Greek plays was destiny, now its circumstances. The hero was powerful, he struggled but at the end of the day, death is inevitable. Modern heroes, dies several deaths – passive – not the doer of the action but receiver.

Answer to Self Assessment Questions 7

• Choose the right option:

1. ‘(d) All the given reasons are true’.

2. ‘(d) All the given points are false’. The correct answer is First, it has all the elements of an epic poem and has also music and spectacle, which the epic lacks. Second, simply reading the play without performing it is already very potent. Third, tragedy is shorter, suggesting that it is more compact and will have a more concentrated effect.

• Say whether the following statement is true or false:

3. ‘(a) True. The given sentences are true.

4. ‘(b) False. The given sentences are wrong. The correct answer is Epic related an action concerning the fortunes or destiny of people or nation, and thereby it presents the life of an entire period. In tragedy, on the other hand, the emphasis is on an individual, his idiosyncrasies and behavior.

SLMgloss1.png Glossary

Click on the given links to learn about the words:

Catharsis -;
Character -;
Creativity -;
Criticism -;
Hamartia -;
Literature -;
Plot -;
Purgation -;
Purification -;

SLMref.png References and Further Readings

  1. Abrams, M.H. Geoffrey Harpham. A Glossary of Literary Terms. Delhi: Akash Press, 2007.
  2. Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. S.H.Butcher. New York: Courier Dover Publications, 1997.
  3. Aristotle. Poetics. Trans.Samuel H. Butcher. Theory of Poetry and Fine Art. New York: Courier Dover Publications, 1951.
  4. Atkins, J.W.H. English Literary Criticism: 17th and 18th Centuries. Massachusetts: Methuen, 1966.
  5. Daiches, David. Critical Approaches to Literature. London: Prentice-Hall, 1956.
  6. Daiches, David. English Literature. California: University of California Press, 1968.
  7. Daiches, David. The Penguin Companion of English Literature. London: McGraw-Hill, 1971.
  8. Dixon, W. Macneile. Tragedy. London: Edward Arnold, 1938.
  9. Durham, W.H. Critical Essays of the Eighteenth Century. UK: Russell & Russell, 1961.
  10. Lucas, F.L. Tragedy: Serious Drama in Relation to Aristotle’s ‘Poetics’. New York: Vintage, 1928.
  11. Plato. Republic. Critical Theory Since Plato, Revised Edition. Ed. Hazard Adams. Orlando, Fla: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1992.
  12. Scott-James, R.A. Personality in Literature. London: Xinware Corporation, 2007.
  13. Wellek, Rene. Stephen G. Nicholas. Concepts of Criticism. Connecticut: Yale University, 1963.
  14. Wimsatt, WK, Jr., and Cleanth Brooks. Literary Criticism: A Short History. New York: Knopf, 1957.
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