For, if it is true to say that in essence the tragic hero is intent upon claiming his whole due as a personality, and if this struggle must be total and without reservation, then it automatically demonstrates the indestructible will of man to achieve his humanity. The possibility of victory must be there in tragedy. Where pathos rules, where pathos is finally derived, a character has fought a battle he could not possibly have won. The pathetic is achieved when the protagonist is, by virtue of his witlessness, his insensitivity or the very air he gives off, incapable of grappling with a much superior force. Pathos truly is the mode for the pessimist. But tragedy requires a nicer balance between what is possible and what is impossible. And it is curious, although edifying, that the plays we revere, century after century, are the tragedies. In them, and in them alone, lies the belief--optimistic, if you will, in the perfectibility of man. It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possible lead in our time--the heart and spirit of the average man.
The Poetics is Aristotle's attempt to explain the basic problems of art. He both defines art and offers criteria for determining the quality of a given artwork. The Poetics stands in opposition to the theory of art propounded by Aristotle's teacher, Plato. In his Republic , Plato argues that "poetry is a representation of mere appearances and is thus misleading and morally suspect" (Critical, 1). In the poetics, Aristotle, Plato's student, attempts to refute his teacher by exploring what unites all poetry: its imitative nature and its ability to bring an audience into its specific plot while preserving a unity of purpose and theme. The tone of the Poetics reflects its argumentative spirit as Aristotle attempts both to explain the "anatomy" of poetry and to justify its value to human society.
This is the same scientific method that Aristotle employs so successfully in examining natural phenomena: careful observation followed by tentative theories to explain the observations. The immediate and pressing question, then, is whether Aristotle is right in applying his scientific method to poetry. Physical phenomena are subject to unchanging, natural laws, and presumably a careful study of the phenomena matched with a little insight might uncover what these natural laws are. Aristotle seems to be proceeding with the assumption that the same is true for poetry: its growth and development has been guided by unchanging, natural laws, and the Poetics seeks to uncover these laws.