What are the salient features of Aristotle's The Poetics?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, this assignment asks for your opinion of the most important features of Aristotle's Poetics. Obviously, the features that are important to you might differ from those important to an eNotes educator or a scholar working on some aspect of Aristotelian philosophy or its reception.

Perhaps one of the most widely discussed features of the Poetics in the scholarly tradition has been the claim that tragedy, "through pity and fear effects a catharsis of such emotion." There has been much ink spilled over what "catharsis" might mean in this context. A modern consensus has focused on the medical sense of "purgation," but there is much in the passage that remains ambiguous.

Another interesting concept found in the Poetics is that of "mimesis" or imitation. While the distinction between mimesis and diegesis is well developed in Plato, Aristotle argues strongly against the Platonic condemnation of mimesis, arguing instead that it is essential to human learning and thought. 

Finally, another important feature of the Poetics is the way Aristotle follows Plato in looking at the value of art not as purely aesthetic but also in terms of its moral effect upon the polis, and the way he seems to argue that art serves to educate the emotions.