Aristotle idealized what any tragedy must contain in his lecture called the
The six elements (Plot, Character, Idea, Spectacle, and Song) all must be present and
developed in the right magnitude to complete a true tragedy. A beautiful example of a
tragedy that shows all six of these elements working together and all at the same level is
As we have already discussed, the elements of plot are crucial in
completing the dramatic whole of any tragedy. We saw how plot is used in Sophocles’
, and next, we must look at the elements of character and idea within the play to
see how they must contribute to the plot in order to complete the tragedy
Kreon illustrates Sophocles’ views of democracy (that human society is universally
equal) through his actions against his family and people by showing that even a king can
fall and fail. “I have learned, and am ruined. It was a god. Then, right then! Hit me, held
me, heaped heavy in my head; shaken on savage paths; joy trampled; and for all men,
Sophocles uses both character (Kreon) and idea (society is universally
equal) to make a statement about the plot (Kreon fails because of his actions). With this
said, one can see how the plot of a tragedy would be nothing without these two very
important elements. A tragedy would lack depth and heart. Character can be thought of as
the material of the plot. It is the combined actions of all the characters that compromise
Then, with the actions of one character, the idea can be seen. The idea is what
the plot is trying to communicate.
Before the reader can understand how the actions of the character or characters
trans.by Richard Emil Braun (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1973), 70.
Dramatic Analysis, “Aristotelian Analysis,” University of Vermont, 2007, 4.
Dramatic Analysis, 7.