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Discuss Aristotle's view of literature as imitation.

Aristotle’s view of literature as imitation Word imitation has great importance in literature. Aristotle explained meaning of this word in order to defend poetry which is called Aristotle’s concept/theory of imitation. Although he was not first to use this word yet he comes first in redefining its meanings. Word “imitation” was used as a synonym of copy of copy before Aristotle. Plato used this word for the first time. He was of the considerable view that poetry was shadow of a shadow, thus, it was twice away from reality.

Aristotle answered Plato and refuted charge against poets. He redefined meanings of imitation. Aristotle’s view of literature as imitation , Regardless of that whole concept of idea and copy remained the same. In simple words, Aristotle agreed that the world was created from an idea and the world was its copy. He also agreed that a poet imitated the reality/nature but meaning of word imitation did not mean mere copy. He did not consider poetry twice away from reality.

Imitation is a creative process in the eyes of Aristotle. He links poetry with music instead of painting. He says that poetry is pleasant just like a flute’s sound that is full of harmony, therefore, it is not right to compare poets with painters and poetry with painting. A poet, further says Aristotle, does not present things as they appear but bestows them his imagination. Hence, poetry is not the process of seeing things and simply converting it to words; a poet reinvents things with his imagination and experiences. 


Imitation Vs. Reality and History:

If imitation is the name of copying facts then there must be no creativity in poetry. As mentioned earlier, Aristotle argues that a poet presents men in action. He presents men as they were or are or as they ought to be. If men are being presented as they are without any blend of imagination and creative power then it is not poetry but history. Creativity differentiates history from poetry. A historian may also write about the sorrows and pains, suffered by humans, but it would not necessarily be filled with emotions. Strong power of imagination is required to convert ordinary and simple incidents to extraordinary events so that they cause “catharsis”. Aristotle’s redefined “imitation” is the only concept/theory, through which poetry becomes highly effective.

Upshot of the above discussion is that Aristotle has encouraged the poets to write poetry. He blows a new soul to the word “imitation”. Plato’s charges against the poets have successfully been refuted by Aristotle in his book “Poetics”. Aristotle’s concept/theory of imitation shows the world that it is not mere a procedure of copying things but a creative process, which requires high imaginative powers. Hence, it cannot be called duplicating things. It is a process of creating something astonishing from ordinary things with the help of strong vision. A poet, hence, through imitation brings things closer to reality instead of taking them twice away from reality.

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