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The Poetics by Aristotle & Hamlet by Shakespeare

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Essay title: The Poetics by Aristotle & Hamlet by Shakespeare

Poetics and Hamlet

Centuries ago, Aristotle laid down guidelines for criticizing dramatic works in his Poetics. This paper considers whether that structure is adequate for analyzing William Shakespeare’s Hamlet that was composed after Aristotle.

The Poetics is too short to go into great detail, so we’ll have to use only the most basic of his definitions and guidelines for what dramatic works should entail. He begins by discussing poetry, then moves to tragedy, which he says is “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of this emotions” (Aristotle). By “embellished” language he means language “into which rhythm, ‘harmony’ and song enter”; and by “separate parts” he means some should be spoken and some should be sung (Aristotle).

The tradition of literature includes many genres. One of the oldest and most important of these genres is tragedy. One of the foremost Elizabethan tragedies in the canon of English literature is Hamlet by William Shakespeare and one of the earliest critics of tragedy is Aristotle. One way to measure Shakespeare’s work is to appraise it using the methods of classical critics to see if it retains its meaning. Hamlet is one of the most recognizable and

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