Impact Of Aristotle’S Six Elements On Literature And Cinema

Jun 29, 2019   •  252 views

Aristotle, the philosopher, was born in 343 BC. He was the student of Plato and along with Plato he is also considered as the ‘Father of Western Philosophy’. His writings mainly included various subjects such as metaphysics, biology, zoology, ethics, poetry, theatre, linguistics, psychology, aesthetics, etc. Aristotle’s ‘Poetics’ is one of the earliest surviving text or work that is related to dramatic theory and mainly seen as the traditional view point for centuries. He also wrote in ‘poetics’ that drama, especially which are related to tragedy has to have six elements.

The six elements of theatre according to Aristotle in his widely popular book Poetics are:


Aristotle says that plot is a very important part of a play and it basically means the arrangement of the events in the play. It is composed of the problems that the characters need to solve. He wanted the playwrights to create a plot that is astonishing. Plot and story are different from each other because story is detailing of events chronologically.


Character is also an important part of the play because they are the agents of the plot. According to Aristotle the characters need to round characters and not flat characters so that the audience feels the Hamartia after the downfall of the character. The characters should also be interesting enough to grasp the audience’s attention.


Theme is an important part because it plays a great role in the success of a play. The reason why the playwright wrote the play should be clear in the theme.


The language should be dramatic and the dialogues should contain heightened language.


Rhythm is the heart of the play. All the different elements of the play like the plot, characters, and dialogues should have their own rhythm for an effective climax.


Spectacle is everything that is seen and heard on stage. All plays contain spectacle. Some contain more spectacle some contain less spectacle.

Impact on Literature And Cinema:

The structure of narration related to any popular art forms has not changed since the days of Aristotle. It is through the judicious use of narrative elements and artistic criteria that all films and literary pieces achieved their success. All the above mentioned elements of Drama through slight modification and reinterpretation became essential to the film industry. In films characters are given the most importance but according to Aristotle Plot is the most important part and characters are of secondary importance. In contemporary films it is sometimes asserted that whatever that is said is controlled by the directors not through dialogues but through the language of images.

According to Aristotle a basic plot includes Themes which is an important element of Drama and it remains true today as well. Even the Hollywood writers accept it that a good movie must have specific plot points or moments when the character makes a choice that is moral. Therefore it can be concluded that through this they the contemporary film industry accepts the idea that plot is more important than characters.

For example the character of Forrest Gump in the movie Seven Mistakes shows that how a character who has limited cognitive abilities cannot be used as epitome of ideas that is relevant philosophy of life.

Diction is also an important element in Aristotle’s poetics but most movies use prosaic speech that actually fail to reach Aristotle’s standard related to high art. But some films have stylistic speech throughout such as in the movie ‘True Grit’. Therefore some of the movies have not at all followed the ideas of Aristotle whereas some of them have inherited what Aristotle wanted to convey through his work that is known as Poetics.