Aristotle's Poetics and Frankenstein
"First, the instinct of imitations implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons" and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. We have evidence of this in the facts of experience. Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute fidelity."
In his Poetics, Aristotle classifies plot into two types: simple and complex. The simple plot is defined as a unified construct of necessary and probable actions accompanied by a change of fortune. According to Aristotle, the complex plot is accompanied by two other features, reversal and recognition. He feels that this is the best kind of tragic plot, in that it provides the best possibility of delivering tragic pleasure.
The unity of structure recommended by Aristotle includes the division of the plot into the beginning, the middle, and the end. It also includes the unities of time and action. He stresses unified action, where all action in the plot carries a definite link to other actions, and subsequent actions are the necessary and probable outcomes.
Necessary and probable are terms that show up pretty often in the Poetics. "They stand for the universality of poetry in that they point to how or what actions should logically be in a given situation" (Mukherjee 1). The unity of action, therefore, does not mean all that happens to the protagonist, but centers the action around the norms of necessity and probability.
Finally, there is the change of fortune. It is either from good to bad or from bad to good. The change of fortune is also accompanied by a complication of events and their resolution.
As far as the Poetics being concerned with Frankenstein, The quote at the
beginning pretty much sums it up. Aristotle states that, "the instinct
of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him
and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and
through imitation learns his earliest lessons." The monster in Frankenstein
is Victor's creation, assembled from old body parts and strange chemicals, animated
by a mysterious spark. He enters life eight feet tall and enormously strong
but with the mind of a newborn. Abandoned by his creator and confused, he tries
to integrate himself into society, only to be shunned universally. The monster
basically learns to communicate by watching a family. Among the things that
he teaches himself is sensitivity and kindness. In the novel, he assists a group
of poor peasants and saves a girl from drowning, but because of his outward
appearance, he is rewarded with beatings and disgust. The monster is torn between
vengefulness and compassion and therefore ends up lonely and tormented by remorse.
Even the death of his creator offers bittersweet relief; joy because Victor
has caused him so much suffering, sadness because Victor is the only person
with whom he has had any sort of relationship.
See Aristotle's Bio page
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