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'Poetics' by Aristotle; Brief-answer Questions


by Aristotle

1. What is Poetics?

Ans: Poetics by Aristotle is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory and the first surviving philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory.

2. What was the nick-name of Aristotle?

Ans: The nick-name of Aristotle bestowed by Plato was “The Foal”.

3. What was the purpose of writing Poetics?

Ans: The purpose of writing Poetics was to deal with poetry and its various parts, noting the essential quality of each. The purpose also is to inquire into the structure of the plot of a poem and other allied matters.  

4. How does Aristotle define poetry?

Ans: Aristotle defines poetry as the mimetic, or imitative, use of language, rhythm, and harmony, separately or in combination.

5. What is the common principle of all the fine arts?

Ans: Imitation is the common principle of all the fine arts.

6. What does Aristotle mean by imitation? [NU 2016]

Ans: By the term ‘imitation’, Aristotle means the process of creation by which the poet, drawing his material from the phenomenal world, makes something new out of it.

7. What is the Greek word for ‘imitation’?

Ans: The Greek word for ‘imitation’ is ‘Mimesis’.

8. What is Mimesis?

Ans: Mimesis means imitation. Aristotle defines mimesis as the perfection and imitation of nature.

9. What are the objects of imitation in poetry?

Ans: The objects of imitation in poetry are men in action.

10. What are the manners of imitation?

Ans: The manners of imitation are given below:
i.        Narrative manner in which the poet speaks in the same person without change
ii.      Mixed manner in which the poet speaks both in narrative and in an assumed role. 
iii.    Action Manner in the form of dialogues carried out by characters as in real life

11. What is the function of the poet?

Ans: According to Aristotle, the function of the poet is to relate what may happen or what is possible according to the law of probability or necessity.

12. What is panegyric?

Ans: Panegyric is a formal public speech, or written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing.

13. What is comedy?

Ans: According to Aristotle, comedy is the imitation of characters 'of a lower type', meaning a representation of a defect or ugliness in character, which is not painful or destructive.

14. What is Tragedy according to Aristotle?

Ans: According to Aristotle, “A tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself”.

15. Who introduced three characters in a tragedy?

Ans: Sophocles introduced three characters in a tragedy. 

16. What are the six constituent parts of a tragedy? [NU 2016]

Ans: The six constituent parts of a tragedy are plot, character, thought, diction, music and spectacle.

17. Which is the most important among the six elements of tragedy? Why? [NU 2017]

Ans: Plot is the most important among the six elements of tragedy because it is the life blood of a tragedy.  

18. What is the life-blood of a tragedy?

Ans: Plot is the life blood of a tragedy.

19. What is plot?

Ans: Plot refers to the sequence of events inside a story, which affects other events through the principle of cause and effect.

20. What is an ideal plot?

Ans: The ideal plot is one that arouses pity and fear through reversal and discovery.

21. What is a well-constructed plot?

Ans: A well-constructed plot is a plot that has a beginning, a middle and an end.

22. What is organic plot?

Ans: An organic plot is that in which the story is affected if any event or any part of the story is eliminated. 

23. What is completeness?

Ans: Completeness refers to the necessity of a tragedy to have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

24. What is a beginning?

Ans: A 'beginning' is defined as an origin, by which something naturally comes to be.

25. What is a middle?

Ans: The 'middle' is the part of a tragedy that follows something and is followed by something.

26. What is an end?

Ans: An 'end'  is the part or incident that follows another incident by necessity, but has nothing necessarily following it.

27. What are the kinds of plots?

Ans: According to Aristotle there are two kinds of plot: simple and complex. 

28. What is a reversal?

Ans: A reversal is a drastic change from one state of affairs to its opposite.

29. What is an episodic plot?

Ans: Episodic plot is the plot in which episodes succeed one another 'without probably or necessary sequence. 

30. What is Diction?

Ans: Diction is the choice of words and style of expression that an author makes and uses in a work of literature.

31. What is Thought?

Ans: Thought is the effect produced by speech. It is communicated to the audience through the speeches of the characters. 

32. What is poetic truth?

Ans: Poetic truth is the universal element in human nature and in human life. It is much higher than historical truth or philosophical truth.

33. What is the function of tragedy?

Ans: The function of a tragedy is to arouse the emotions of pity and fear among the audience.

34. How are pity and fear aroused?

Ans: Pity and fear are aroused either by spectacular means or by the inner structure of a tragedy. 

35. What is Catharsis? [NU 2016]

Ans: Catharsis is the purification and purgation of emotions like pity and fear through witnessing certain kinds of art like tragedy, music etc.

36. What is a tragic hero?

Ans: As defined by Aristotle, a tragic hero is “a person who must evoke a sense of pity and fear in the audience. He is considered a man of misfortune that comes to him through error of judgment.”

37. Who is fit to be a tragic hero according to Aristotle?

Ans: According to Aristotle, the person who is good, appropriate, true to type and consistent is fit to be a tragic hero.  

38. What is 'Hamartia'? [NU 2016]

Ans: Greek term ‘hamartia’ means ‘error in judgment’.

39. What is tragic flaw?

Ans: Tragic flaw is an error in a protagonist's personality that brings about his tragic downfall in a tragedy.

40. What is peripeteia?

Ans: According to Aristotle, peripeteia is the shift of the tragic protagonist's fortune from good to bad, which is essential to the plot of a tragedy.

41. What is deus ex machina?

Ans: ‘Deus ex machina’ means ‘god from the machine’. It is the introduction of a god into a play to resolve the entanglements of the plot.

42. What are three Unities?

Ans: The three unities are unity of time, unity of place and unity of action.

43. What is the unity of time? [NU 2016]

Ans: The unity of time is one of the three unities of drama that limits the supposed action of the duration, roughly, to a single day.

44. What is the unity of place?

Ans: Unity of place means that a play should dramatise the incidents of one place only while other incidents of past or present should be reported, not enacted.  

45. What is the unity of action?

Ans: Unity of action means that a play should follow a single line of action without incorporating any subplot.

46. How does Aristotle define epic? [NU 2017]

Ans: According to Aristotle, Epic poetry is a type of poetry that imitates 'noble' men like tragedy, but only has one type of meter and is narrative in form.

47. Why does Aristotle consider tragedy to be a higher form of art than epic?

Ans: Aristotle considers tragedy to be a higher form of art than epic because a tragedy manages to present its story in a much shorter span of time maintaining a greater degree of unity.