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Introduction to Theatre Online Course

Dr. Eric W. Trumbull, Professor, Theatre/Speech

Last revision date: January 4, 2008


The Last Four Parts of a Play:


Objectives for this lesson:

Students will examine:

the last four of Aristotle's Six Parts of a Tragedy

the nature of thought, language, music, and spectacle in drama and theatre



Aristotle's Six Parts of a Tragedy

1. Plot
2. Character
3. Thought (theme, idea)
4. Diction (Language)
5. Music (sound)
6. Spectacle


        • idea, theme ("the me") of the play.
        • often allegorical or symbolic
        • sometimes direct, sometimes indirect.

Plays may often be written about an idea, but the playwright will probably focus more on plot and character to get idea across -- plays are seldom about an idea.

In production, directors seldom try to direct the idea--it is the other values that will get the idea across (tho' sometimes the idea will not be obvious / overt).



Language is used to:

depart information, reveal characters, characterize, direct attention, reveal themes and ideas, establish mood / tone, establish tempo / rhythm appropriate to character (again, "decorum" had nobility speak poetry, peasants speaking prose).



The sound of the dialog, etc. musicality, rhythm, pace, etc.
helps establish mood, characterize, lend variety, pleasurable.



The most immediate element

--appropriate and distinctive (but perhaps least important for the "drama / play").


These Six Parts of a Tragedy (a play) have acted as a guideline for theorists and practitioners for years.

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Important terms:






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This page and all linked pages in this directory are copyrighted Eric W. Trumbull, 1998-2008

Last revision date: January 4, 2008