Plato's Comments on Drama

Updated: Mar 30

His comments on Drama: Although drama is a branch of poetry and is twice removed from reality just like poetry, Plato points out some other important information to be noted on this genre separately. i) It’s Appeal to Baser Instincts: Plato points out the fact that unlike poetry drama is to be staged. In order to please the audiences, the actors tend to act vigorously (the actions which they consider ashamed in normal) like an imitation of thunder, aggressive quarrels and lamentations in history. It leads to bad taste and laxity in the discipline. Plato wants such actions to be censored. ii) Effects of Impersonation: Acting represses individuality and leads to the enfeeblement of character. He says by repetition of impersonation a person gets its qualities to enter his originality. Excess of evil character practice or innocent character practice is worse. Though this gives the actor a success for presenting human nature, forced habits are no good. Thus, characters that are noble and beneficial to the community are good to be encouraged.

iii) Tragic and comic pleasure: Regarding tragedy and comedy, Plato has raised many sensible questions. A human has heterogeneous emotions- temper, envy, fear, grief and others. But why is that humans like being overemotional? Why would people enjoy and seek pleasure from the loosing of temper or high, deep weeping? What is in it to pleasure? The question of today’s psychologists was raised by Plato at his age. Even in comedies, people watch the folly behaviours on stage and laugh out loud. Such as a coward pretending to be brave, a dishonest man pretending to be honest, a fool as a wise man. The source of laughter is an incongruity between what he is and what he pretends to be. Plato calls both pleasures to be malicious. Here he hits upon a profound truth- no character can be comic unless he is lovable. He also warns about high laughter how it can lead to a lack of seriousness in conduct in society.


Source:

English Literary Criticism: An Introduction by Charles Edwyn Vaughan

An Introduction to English Criticism by B. Prasad

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