Literary and practical criticism helps to understand literature in a different way

Literary and practical criticism helps to understand literature in a different way, it gives parameters how to study literature. It also give us general framework how toevaluate, interpret and analyze any piece of literature. It provide us different theories and lens through which we peep into any piece of literature. We can interpret thingsin specific dimensionusing certain theoretical lens. For example Aristotle’ theory of tragedy can use to analyze modern tragedies.
By definition of tragedy given by Aristotle we can see that how streetcar named desire fulfill different conditions of perfect tragedy. According to Aristotle “tragedy,then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kind of being found in separate parts of play; in the form of action, not narrative; with incidents arousing pity and fear, where with to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions” (Aristotle.335BC poetics). Modern tragedy “streetcar named desire fulfill most of the principals of Aristotelian tragedy, the imitation of an action which is serious ,complete and of certain magnitude is clearly seen in streetcar named desire.it has social and well as psychological importance, the main focus is on the class difference in American society and impact of emerging narrative in American identity. The conflict between two major characters is basically due to class difference. This play also put light on the psychological aspect of self as portrays through the character of Blanche and Stella both are completely dependent on man and Stanley always wants to be dominant. I think this is something serious and have certain magnitude.
As in poetics “language is embellished with each kind of artistic ornaments” (Aristotle poetics). This Aristotelian feature is highly present in streetcar named desire, language used by William is highly figurative and very important to overall understanding of play. For example “have you got to be seductive-put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly wings and glow” describe love as “a blinding light on something that had always been half in shadow”. All the characters used highly figurative language, even in the harsh events throughout the play.
“Streetcar named desire” has all the three unities given by Aristotle in his poetics.Unities come from the three principles from Aristotle’s Poetics. In drama, Unities required a play to have a single action occurring in a single place and within the course of a certain amount of time.The entire play” streetcar named desire” is happen in New Orleans inside the apartment of Stanley. Unity of time is also followed, play open with the arrival of Blanche at Stella’s house and end with her departure. In the play happening for the past are connected through flashbacks. Unity of action is present as well because there is no subplot and action involve major characters of play such as Blanche, Stella, Stanley and Mitch.
According to Aristotle” plot is the soul of tragedy” plot must have proper beginning, middle and ending which are logically connected. Analyzing streetcar named desire we come to know that this play has a simple plot with no other subplot, and have proper beginning, middle and ending logically connected to each other. The plot exposition occur with the introduction of main characters, then conflict starts with the arrival of Blanche at Stella’s house which move towards the climax of play when Stanley rapes Blanche and then resolution occur after a whole tension between characters.
Moving toward the concept of tragic hero given by Aristotle. “The structure of the best tragedy should be complex representing incidents arousing pity and fear”. In street car named desire Blanche is portraying the character of tragic hero. This character fall from grace. Blanche is a former school teacher and has a family house .then Blanche husband committed suicide in this way character fall occur which automatically lead toward tragedy. As tragic hero must has tragic flaw called hamartia which causes downfall of a hero. The tragic flaw of Blanche is that she is dependent on man all the time and shehas live too long in unreality, se manipulate and lies to potential suitor to make herself more effective and attractive. When her lies unwrap in front of other characters her down fall occurs. The reversal of fortune is occur in this way that at first sight we can see that Blanche has a very good life but after her husband suicide eventually she lost everything such as Belle Reve, her beauty and her own town. She lost everything that is dear to her so in this way peripeteia is occur.
In the end of tragedy audience must feel piety and fear after the downfall of tragic hero. This occurs due to the punishment of the hero because hero is not wholly deserves. In the case of Blanche I feel piety for her punishment, she was sad and confused women who is looking for someone to comfort her and take care of her. She lies and manipulated people to get happy life as she wanted but this does not mean that she got raped as in the last section of play. She is humiliated by other characters publically. She is being violated by Stanley and then society as well, this is something worst behaviour she receives.
Anagnorisis is the essential part of tragedy as describe by Aristotle which involves the recognition or discovery which contains the truth of hero previously unknown. It is also the transition from ignorance to knowledge. This discovery bring love and happiness if hero has good fortune, but who discover bad fortune or unhappy truths faces misery and animosity at the end. Most of the tragedies have this discovery but this does not actually happen with Blanche in streetcar named desire. She never get a knowledge of what really occur and why. Blanche is tragic heroine although she does not get self-discovery I think this is not bad thing. This made her character unique and different from Greek tragedies, who does not know what is wrong with her life and why she is so miserable at the end that she is admitted to mental hospital.
There are lot of differences between modern and Greek tragedy. In modern tragedy the main focus is on ordinary family unit as compared to Greek and Shakespearean tragedy. It is clear the tension between Blanche and Stanley is about old and new American identity yet in a tiny family settings. The striking difference between Aristotle tragedy and modern tragedy is that, modern tragedy has chorus which is not present in modern tragedy. The chorus performs many functions in Greek tragedies such as poetic element, background details and narrate summaries of events which are not performed on stage. Modern tragedies such as streetcar named desire there is nothing like chorusbut in the tragedy of Sophocles Antigone has chorus.
Greek tragedies contains many characters but in modern tragedies there are small number of characters, most of characters has much impact on drama, as in street car named desire only 5 to 6 characters are involved but they impact a lot during whole play. Modern tragedies in written form provide detailed stage direction but inAristotelian tragedies there masks are used to show character change. The modern tragedy is also more likely to focus on society, rather than fate or fortune, as that which oppresses the herofor example in streetcar named desire the point of conflict is societal not the concern of fate, It comprises numerous social struggle undertones which give it significance, depth, and meaning.
So there are lot of similarities and difference between Aristotelian and modern tragedy as describe above, which give us a clear cut line of distinctions how the tragedy change with the passage of time. Although William fulfilled most of the rules of Aristotle but some differences are also there which make streetcar named desire a modern tragedy.
As I mentioned above literary and practical criticism provides a base to understand and analyse any piece of art, as all art have critics such as dramas, poetry music etc. literary and practical criticism helps reader to peep into the art with different perceptions. Literary and practical criticism is very important to analyse ant piece of text, as T.S Eliot said” criticism is inevitable as breathing”, so from this quote we can feel the importance of literary and practical criticism. It also helps reader to find out the different developments within a particular genre with the passage to time. For example psychoanalysis given by Sigmund Freud give us a root to study text as we move forward we can see different critics in this field ,in this way reader can analyse difference between genres.
Literary and practical criticism helps me to understand what actually tragedy is, what its constituent parts are and how it develops with the passage of time. I also come to know how different eras define tragedies and how it different from Aristotelian tragedy. As I compare modern tragedy with Aristotelian tragedy, literary and practical criticism provides a base how to compare different eras. Literary and practical criticism enhance my understanding of tragedy and helps me to understand which parts of tragedy make its perfect tragedy. By comparing modern tragedy with Aristotelian tragedy I come to know that there are many parts of Greek tragedy which are not present in modern tragedy. Tragedy flourished as time passed. For example according to Aristotle unity of time, place and actions re important but when move toward modern tragedy many writers don’t follow this rule. By comparing this aspect I come to know that unities are not important for any tragedy. Aristotle gave a framework under which we can compare things and then make distinctions. By analysing the Aristotle poetics I am able to draw the comparison between Greek and modern tragedy. For example, Greek tragedy has chorus which perform many works but, modern tragedy don’t have thing like chorus. Modern tragedy has stage direction in written form which is absent in Greek tragedy.
Conclusion:
As literary and practical criticism helps us in our interpretation of different genres by providing a specific lens which give us a base on which we developed our understanding. This course is really helpful for me to understand what actually tragedy is and how its parts changed with time. Is also give a huge knowledge of tragedy or drama in different eras. There are lot of differences between Aristotelian and modern tragedy as I mentioned above. These changes come gradually with time. Shakespearean tragedy is also different in many aspects. We analyse these tragedies by comparing with the Aristotle’s concept of tragedy. So literary and practical criticism is really helpful to understand literature. As “criticism is the conscious evaluation or appreciation of work of art, either according to critic’s personal taste or according to some accepted aesthetic ideas,”(Shipley’s dictionary of world literature).