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incidents, and the right kind of plot.

POETICS|15

XV




In respect of Character there are four things to be aimed at. First,

and most important, it must be good. Now any speech or action that

manifests moral purpose of any kind will be expressive of character:

the character will be good if the purpose is good. This rule is

relative to each class. Even a woman may be good, and also a slave;

though the woman may be said to be an inferior being, and the slave

quite worthless. The second thing to aim at is propriety. There is a

type of manly valor; but valor in a woman, or unscrupulous

cleverness is inappropriate. Thirdly, character must be true to

life: for this is a distinct thing from goodness and propriety, as

here described. The fourth point is consistency: for though the

subject of the imitation, who suggested the type, be inconsistent,

still he must be consistently inconsistent. As an example of

motiveless degradation of character, we have Menelaus in the

Orestes; of character indecorous and inappropriate, the lament of

Odysseus in the Scylla, and the speech of Melanippe; of inconsistency,

the Iphigenia at Aulis- for Iphigenia the suppliant in no way

resembles her later self.

As in the structure of the plot, so too in the portraiture of

character, the poet should always aim either at the necessary or the

probable. Thus a person of a given character should speak or act in

a given way, by the rule either of necessity or of probability; just

as this event should follow that by necessary or probable sequence. It

is therefore evident that the unraveling of the plot, no less than the

complication, must arise out of the plot itself, it must not be

brought about by the Deus ex Machina- as in the Medea, or in the

return of the Greeks in the Iliad. The Deus ex Machina should be

employed only for events external to the drama- for antecedent or

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