Aristotle_Paper - Peter ODowd Classics of Western...

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Peter O’Dowd Classics of Western Literature Topic #1 My Favorite Works Analyzed through Aristotle’s Lens Although a tragedy is distinguished simply as a catharsis created by a serious and abundant event that stimulates pity and fear, Aristotle identifies six specific constituent elements embodied within a truly successful tragedy. Aristotle classifies these tragedies into four groups, all composed by these constituent elements—plot, character, thought, spectacle, diction and music. When analyzing my favorite movie The Departed , my favorite episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air , and my favorite novel—The Great Gatsby , many of the elements were able to be identified that met Aristotle’s criteria, while some elements weren’t incorporated as much. When we analyze the movie, The Departed by Martin Scorsese, it is not difficult to distinguish some fitting aspects of the constituent elements. The plot seems to be complex and it develops from characters actions, making it a good plot through Aristotle’s lens. The dramatic movie consists of violent street crime with the protagonists being a local Irish mafia crime boss, an undercover agent attempting to bring him down, and a corrupt detective working for that mafia. It has a suspenseful and complex theme because the viewer watches as two of these characters fight to conceal their hidden identities and deal with the resulting stress and drama that comes because of it. The tragic hero, Billy Costigan (the undercover agent) tries eagerly to find out who is the corrupt detective in his department, while the corrupt detective desperately tries to figure him out in order to save their own lives—
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however only the head of Billy’s department knows he is the undercover cop. At the same time, Billy has a purely sexual relationship with the detective’s girlfriend (and ironically his own psychologist)—who will not leave her lover for him. In the end, both men do not completely get they are looking for and they are killed by other rivals. The plot changes and builds up because of these characters’ actions (such as the corrupt detective deleting Billy’s identity and proof of being an agent, when he finds out Billy is not really in the mafia), and because of the change of fortune brought about these twists—the plot is complex. According to Aristotle, the worst plots are when they are “‘episodic,’ in which the episodes or acts succeed one another without probable or necessary sequence”. However, this specific plot avoids this aspect and follows Aristotle’s “cause-and-effect” chain. For example, the corrupt detective deletes Billy’s files as being an agent because he knows that Billy has realized his corruption, and consequently, Billy provides evidence and sets up the detective because he has deleted Billy’s files of being an agent. In Aristotle’s successful tragedy, the character supports the plot by
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This note was uploaded on 04/30/2008 for the course ENGLISH 117 taught by Professor Mercier during the Spring '08 term at Marist.

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Aristotle_Paper - Peter ODowd Classics of Western...

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