Aristotle and tragedy...
Posted by Helen on May 03, 1998 at 14:47:18:
In response to Yet..., written by Erin on May 03, 1998 at 12:35:18
I'm glad to see that you don't think P&P a tragedy... not enough corpses, huh? ;-)
But seriously, (or perhaps with tongue in cheek) I have often thought that P&P is an antitype of Aristotelian tragedy.
Consider Aristotle's definition: tragedy is about a hero who suffers from hubris, which we might just translate as "improper pride". This in contrast to the heroic quality of magnaminity, which I have seen translated as "proper pride" (this distinction is what put me on to the concept in the first place). He possesses a fatal flaw (hamartia) - or commits a fatal mistake (no-one knows exactly what the Greek means, which has allowed literary criticism to flourish in discussing this topic). There is a catastrophe. Events arouse pity and fear in the audience. Then there is a resolution, and the audience goes home purged of these extreme emotions (catharsis).
Now consider P&P: as we all know, at first Darcy has hubris of Aeschylan proportions - but by the end of the novel, Elizabeth can say to her father that he has "no improper pride". Elizabeth, meanwhile, has committed the fatal error of conceiving a prejudice against him. However, the catastrophe - Lydia's elopement with Wickham - whilst arousing our pity and fear, instead of working to the destruction of the protagonists, actually allows them to work to a happy conclusion.
Now, the question is, did JA conceive her novel to be a deliberate antitype of Aristotelian tragedy? I think not. (sighs of relief from worried Pemberleians). But it is an illustration of the common belief that Christians can't produce real tragedy - it has to take place in a pagan society, which has no possibility of redemption. JA doesn't believe that "as flies to wanton boys are we to the gods" - instead she conceives of a perfectly sensible universe in which people are always given a chance to make something good of their lives.
Thanks, Erin, I've been dying to say that for ages, but I was waiting for a receptive audience... ;-)
] Yes, I'm being terribly pedantic --an attribute that I know has endeared me to so many here at Pemberley. ;-) (yeah right)
It endears you to me, at any rate. Who else would listen to this drivel?
- Blah Blah, Tragedy in this "Helen-ic" age Ian of Erin 22:34:11 5/04/98 (0)
- I can't believe... Erin 00:03:25 5/04/98 (3)
- What did Aristotle say about comedy? Linden 18:47:59 5/03/98 (4)
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