ENGL 102 The Glass Menagerie and Aristotle’s Tragedy Essay

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Professor Allison MacLeod

English 102 (25629)

Drama – The Glass Menagerie –



  • MLA Format
  • 1 – 2 page in length
  • If you use quotations from the play or any other source, which will strengthen your paper, you must cite them. For sources other than the play, provide a citation at the bottom of the submission.

In Poetics, Aristotle writes about the elements and aim of tragedy.

Choose one of Aristotle’s requirements for tragedy listed below and explain why Tennessee Williams’ play does or does not meet this criteria for tragedy.

Your grade will be based on:

  • A clear understanding of the element(s) of Poetics you are writing about
  • An in-depth knowledge of the play, no errors of fact.
  • Your analysis on whether or not the play meets the tragic elements you have chosen.
  1. Is the plot “an imitation of an action that is “serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude?”
    1. Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of action and life, of happiness and misery, that is of great significance.
  2. Are “Fear and pity aroused” in order to create catharsis in the audience?
    1. Aristotle says that “pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves.”
    2. catharsis is to arouse in them sensations of pity and fear, and to purge them of these emotions so that they leave the theater feeling cleansed and uplifted, with a heightened understanding of the ways of gods and men.
  3. Is Hamartia present in the story?
    1. Hamartia is a personal error in a protagonist’s personality, which brings about his tragic downfall in a tragedy. This defect in a character’s personality is also known as a “tragic flaw.” Aristotle used the word in his Poetics, where it is taken as a mistake or error in judgment.
  4. Is peripeteia, a “reversal” of fortune present?
    1. Peripeteia is a sudden change which results in a negative reversal of circumstances. Peripeteia is also known as the turning point, the place in which the tragic protagonist’s fortune changes from good to bad. This literary device is meant to surprise the audience, but is also meant to follow as a result of a character’s previous actions or mistakes.

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