Reading Aristotle’s take on the structure of a successful story was both enlightening and reassuring on basic values we’ve learned thus far in classes. Something that particularly struck a chord with me was the level of importance he put on the different elements that create a story. The main thing that intrigued me was the relation it still has to today’s world of film and television.
The most important element for Aristotle is the complexity and coherency of the plot. He states that “…the greatest means by which tragedy draws the soul are…namely reversals and discoveries” (Aristotle, Ch. 6 Ln. 37) in the story itself. While I agree with the majority of this statement, I’m compelled to disagree with a lot of it, especially in today’s world of storytelling. Perhaps in Aristotle’s time, this statement could have held true. In today’s day and age, however, everyone has already seen every possibly story. There are no longer any truly original ideas, making the plots of many films and television shows simple rehashes of that which has been done before. Whether it’s a princess being rescued from a castle or two lovers dying a tragic death, each arc has been done in some variation. As a result, I’m compelled to disagree with Aristotle on the basis of plot and instead find that, in today’s films, the character draws the soul.
While plot certainly is important, the element that truly drives a story is the creation and execution of the characters. Every story in the modern age of film is a simply a different rendition of an original story created years ago. With this in mind, it’s hard to believe that the plot can truly be the most important element when every audience member has experienced that story before. The difference in each story is instead the presentation of its characters. A strong performance by an actor can make or break a story, but the importance of the character runs much deeper than that. The true importance of a character is...