Explain the position of Fortinbras in the Aristolean view of tragedy.can u plzzz help me out...this question iz frm the book Hamlet by William Shakespeare... i'll be very glad...

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure I have a great answer for you, but I do have an answer.  Aristotle wrote, in his Poetics, about six aspects of a tragedy.  If you had asked about Aristotle and Hamlet, I would quickly have said Hamlet is a tragic figure because he is a character who falls from a high place (mostly due to his own "flaw" or mistake), whose punishment may be more than he deserves, and for whom we feel some sense of pity and fear (awe).  However, none of that is true for Fortinbras.

So, without too much study, the only component of Aristotle's view of tragedy I see which might apply to Fortinbras regards plot.  Aristotle wrote:

"Complex plots [in tragedy] have both “reversal of intention” (peripeteia) and “recognition” (anagnorisis) connected with the catastrophe. Both peripeteia and anagnorisis turn upon surprise."   (Poetics)

It may be the dramatic reversal (an aggressor turned passive soldier turned aggressor once again)which Fortinbras fulfills in this play.  His character doesn't change (for he is simply a wolf in sheep's clothing as he passes through Denmark in peace), but his presence provides the element of a reversal in the complex tragic plot about which Aristotle writes.

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Hamlet

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