Poetics

by

Aristotle

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Change of Fortune Term Analysis

A change of fortune is the part of a plot in which there is a change in fortune, either from good to bad or vice versa. Every tragedy has a change of fortune, Aristotle claims, and this change should occur because of a character’s error rather than because of a moral defect. Aristotle argues that the best tragedies are those with a change from good fortune to bad, as such changes are tragic and “pitiable” and thus most effective for producing catharsis.

Change of Fortune Quotes in Poetics

The Poetics quotes below are all either spoken by Change of Fortune or refer to Change of Fortune. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Poetics published in 1997.
Chapter 7 Quotes

The construction of the best tragedy should be complex rather than simple; and it should also be an imitation of events that evoke fear and pity, since that is the distinctive feature of this kind of imitation. So it is clear first of all that decent men should not be seen undergoing a change from good fortune to bad fortune—this does not evoke fear or pity, but disgust. Nor should depraved people be seen undergoing a change from bad fortune to good fortune—this is the least tragic of all: it has none of the right effects, since it neither agreeable, nor does it evoke pity or fear. Nor again should a very wicked person fall from good fortune to bad fortune—that kind of structure would be agreeable, but would not excite pity or fear, since the one has to do with someone who is suffering undeservedly, the other with someone who is like ourselves (I mean, pity has to do with the underserving sufferer, fear with the person like us); so what happens will evoke neither pity nor fear.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 20-1
Explanation and Analysis:

We are left, therefore, with the person intermediate between these. This is the sort of person who is not outstanding in moral excellence or justice; on the other hand, the change of bad fortune which he undergoes is not due to any moral defect or depravity, but to an error of some kind. He is one of those people who are held in great esteem and enjoy great good fortune, like Oedipus, Thyestes, and distinguished men from that kind of family.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker), Oedipus, Sophocles, Euripides
Related Symbols: Oedipus Rex
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Furthermore, if the objection is that something is not true, perhaps it is as it ought to be; e.g. Sophocles said that he portrayed people as they should be, Euripides as they are. That is the solution to use.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker), Oedipus, Sophocles, Euripides
Related Symbols: Oedipus Rex
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:
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Change of Fortune Term Timeline in Poetics

The timeline below shows where the term Change of Fortune appears in Poetics. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5. Plot: Basic Concepts
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
...series of events occurring sequentially in accordance with probability or necessity” gives rise to a change in fortune from either good to bad or vice versa. (full context)
Chapter 6. Plot: Species and Components
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
...plot is a plot in which a single action of unity is imitated, but the change of fortune is achieved without reversal or recognition. A complex plot is one in which the change... (full context)
Chapter 8. Other Aspects of Tragedy
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
...is “everything from the beginning up to and including the section which immediately precedes” the change of fortune . The resolution, he says, is “everything from the beginning of the change of fortune... (full context)