Speaking Through Art
Without plot, there are no actions and no basis for which a writer is to build on. Through the understanding of tragedy, a story design with a thoroughly developed arc can be used to describe the Complication and Unraveling between characters. In Part XVIII and XIX of The Poetics, by Aristotle, tragedy is broken down into the two main parts that are necessary to create a successfully written and well-executed story, play, or epic poem. But, the poet, or author, must be aware of the troublesome results that may occur if one does not follow up the conflict with a proper resolution.
Tragedy contains two different parts. One, Complication, can be thought of as the main conflict of the play. This Complication leads to the second aspect of tragedy, the Unraveling, or Denouement. In a story, many actions bond together to create the central conflict and other secondary conflicts. The Complication is “all that extends from the beginning of the action to the part which marks the turning-point to good or bad fortune” (Poetics XVIII). Once a conflict is recognized, then the characters can focus on confronting the feelings brought forth from the confrontation and work towards a resolution. The Unraveling, or Denouement, is all that “extends from the beginning of the change to the end” of a piece (Poetics XVIII).
From there, tragedy can be categorized into four different kinds: the complex, the pathetic, the ethical, and the simple. Although these are considered different types, a poet should strive to fit all these poetic elements into their piece. This is no easy task, and a poet should be ready for critique, for each individual is opinioned and bias in one-way or another. A poet should also be ready to accept critique because in no way is a writer completely finished on developing themselves as an intellectual being or as an influential individual of society. The poet should first focus on the plot, because the best understanding of the truth of tragedy is derived from the plot of a piece. It is much simpler for a poet to create a conflict than to resolve that conflict in a means that makes sense and conveys the overall encompassing theme.
Writing with structure is also important. Sticking to the original message intended for the audience forces the poet to focus on the specifics of their developing story. The optimum poet will draw their focus onto the small details of their plot and hope “to produce a tragic effect that satisfies the moral sense” (Poetics XVIII). This can best be explained by saying the poet must venture into writing and see their piece through the eyes of an audience member. The audience wants to see the protagonist triumph. The audience wants and needs a plausible and likeable ending in order to understand and be impacted by the poet’s work.
Diction and Thought are also heavily weighted when speaking of tragic pieces of work. The use of words and rhetoric must be chosen wisely, since thoughts lead to words, which leads to actions. Then, through these actions is an effect formulated. Speech should be a product of both speech and action (Poetics XIX). The thoughts of the poet will show through their piece of work, but, ultimately, all art is up to the viewer’s interpretation.
“For to tell someone to do a thing or not to do it is… a command” (Poetics XIX). A poet must remember that their job is to be the bearer of their own message, but it is the audience’s job to discern how this message is conceived. The viewer has an advantage over the artist, because art is made to be viewed. Art is self-expression that is directed towards others in hopes of influence. Above any intentions of the artist is the critique that the poet receives. In this situation, the audience holds the power. Even if the poet commands the audience for approval, sorrow, applause, and so forth, the audience has the choice to accept or reject these commands.