Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Questions and Answers
by August Wilson

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How is Wilson’s play Ma Rainey's Black Bottom tragic according to Aristotle’s definition of tragedy?

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Ma Rainey's Bottom, also known as The Tragedy of Levee Green conforms to the tenets proposed by Aristotle in "Theory of Tragedy", which he published in Poetics. Based on Levee's tragedy as the force that holds the plot together, it is arguable that the following factors are evidenced throughout this play.

1. Plot

As the most important part of the play, the plot should be complex, but also easily understood. The complexity stems from the fact that situations are bound to come, unfold, and then transform. The "easiness" of understanding actually means being able to make complete sense of it. If the audience "gets it", then it is a well-written plot.

In this case, the audience is immersed in the world of show business, particularly of music. In the Blues scene, white hierarchies and black hierarchies coexist, with the characters standing by the role they each play in their groups, their rank systems, and their circumstances. Looming in the distance are the universal obstacles of racism and social...

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