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Literary Theory & Tragedy

After the fall of Greek theater, the great philosophers began to talk about it to understand it, what it was, what it should be. Plato was suspicious of the arts. It was imitation twice removed, it was not real. Aristotle found value in theater. Art is a craft and can be learned and improved upon. Poetry has rules that must be followed for it to be art. Poetry sharpens our view of reality. The emotional life is part of human reality; it teaches what is there. Poetry also is more philosophical than history. History deals with actions. Poetry universalized truths. Finally, poetry encourages the emotions for the sake of catharsis. A plot well put together will arouse the proper emotions from which we can learn and purify. Implicit in this idea is that actions or stories that are badly put together and badly done are dangerous. There is a bad way of telling a story. There is good art and bad art. There are good stories and bad stories. The effect of the good is to enlighten and elevate; the effect of bad art is to shock and revolt, and descends into dirtiness. Aristotle tells us there is moral order to art.

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