_**My film choice is The Revenant.**_ _ **Aristotle’s Elements of Drama**_ Many of the necessary elements of a good play, movie, or television show are based on the writings of the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BCE), specifically his treatise Poetics. If you look up Aristotle’s elements of drama online, you will see many variations of this list, because of translations and the adjustment of Aristotle’s elements to modern forms of drama. For our purposes, you will use these: 1. Plot – the sequence of events or incidents of which the story is composed. A. Conflict is a clash of actions, ideas, desires or wills. 1. person against person. 2. person against environment – external force, physical nature, society, or “fate.” 3. person against herself/himself – conflict with some element in her/his own nature; maybe physical, mental, emotional, or moral. B. Protagonist and Antagonist – the protagonist is the central character, sympathetic or unsympathetic. The forces working against her/him, whether persons, things, conventions of society, or traits of their own character, are the antagonists. C. Artistic Unity – essential to a good plot; nothing irrelevant; good arrangement. D. Plot Manipulation – a good plot should not have any unjustified or unexpected turns or twists; no false leads; no deliberate and misleading information. 2. Character A. Direct Presentation – author tells us straight out, by exposition or analysis, or through another character. B. Indirect Presentation – author shows us the character in action; the reader infers what a character is like from what she/he thinks, or says, or does. These are also called dramatized characters and they are generally consistent (in behavior), motivated (convincing), and plausible (lifelike). C. Character Types – a Flat character is known by one or two traits; a Round character is complex and many-sided; a Stock character is a stereotyped character (a mad scientist, the absentminded professor, the cruel mother-in- law); a Static character remains the same from the beginning of the plot to the end; and a Dynamic (developing) character undergoes permanent change. This change must be a. within the possibilities of the character; b. sufficiently motivated; and c. allowed sufficient time for change. 3. Theme – the controlling idea or central insight. It can be A. a revelation of human character; B. may be stated briefly or at great length; and C. a theme is not the “moral” of the story. D. A theme must be expressible in the form of a statement – not “motherhood” but “Motherhood sometimes has more frustration than reward.” E. A theme must be stated as a generalization about life; names of characters or specific situations in the plot are not to be used when stating a theme. F. A theme must not be a generalization larger than is justified by the terms of the story. G. A theme is the central and unifying concept of the story. It must adhere to the following requirements: 1. It must account for all the major details of the story. 2. It must not be contradicted by any detail of the story. 3. It must not rely on supposed facts – facts not actually stated or clearly implied by the story. H. There is no one way of stating the theme of a story. F. Any statement that reduces a theme to some familiar saying, aphorism, or cliché should be avoided. Do not use “A stitch in time saves nine,” “You can’t judge a book by its cover, ” “Fish and guests smell in three days,” and so on. 4. Points of View A. Omniscient – a story told by the author, using the third person; her/his knowledge, control, and prerogatives are unlimited; authorial subjectivity. B. Limited Omniscient – a story in which the author associates with a major or minor character; this character serves as the author’s spokesperson or mouthpiece. C. First Person – the author identifies with or disappears in a major or minor character; the story is told using the first person “I”. D. Objective or Dramatic – the opposite of the omniscient; displays authorial objectivity; compared to a roving sound camera. Very little of the past or the future is given; the story is set in the present. 5. Symbol – a literary symbol means more than what it is. It has layers of meanings. Whereas an image has one meaning, a symbol has many. A. Names used as symbols. B. Use of objects as symbols. C. Use of actions as symbols. Note: The ability to recognize and interpret symbols requires experience in literary readings, perception, and tact. It is easy to “run wild” with symbols – to find symbols everywhere. The ability to interpret symbols is essential to the full understanding and enjoyment of literature. Given below are helpful suggestions for identifying literary symbols: A. The story itself must furnish a clue that a detail is to be taken symbolically – symbols nearly always signal their existence by emphasis, repetition, or position. B. The meaning of a literary symbol must be established and supported by the entire context of the story. This type of symbol has its meaning inside not outside a story. C. To be called a symbol, an item must suggest a meaning different in kind from its literal meaning. D. A symbol has a cluster of meanings. 6. Music & Spectacle (sound as well as scenery and other visual elements) A. Music is the art of sound and tone. B. Most performers only consider music as sound provided by musical instruments, yet the sound provided by the human voice is very critical to a play’s success. C. Music in Theatre is the sound of the human voice, sound effects, and sound provided by instruments for mood or rhythm. D. Spectacle is the visual elements of a production. E. Spectacle gives information about locale, time and style of a production. F. Spectacle aids characterization. G. Spectacle establishes the mood of a play.
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