SIX ARISTOTELIAN ELEMENTS OF A PLAY
1. PLOT The arrangement of events or incidents on the stage.
The plot is composed of “clearly defined problems for characters to solve.” (Kernodle, et al 6) Plot is to be
differentiated from Story which is a chronological detailing of events that happened on and off stage. Events happening off stage are introduced through exposition (narrative dialogue). The playwright must create a plot that is both credible and astonishing.
2. CHARACTER The agents of the plot. Characters provide the
motivations (reasons) for the events of the plot.
“Vivid characters” (6) face and overcome “obstacles
that we can recognize.” (6) They provide the vehicle for conflict.
3. THEME The reason the playwright wrote the play. The
examination of “patterns of life” (6) can be didactic
or just a slice of life.
4. LANGUAGE “Vivid characters” (6) facing and overcoming
recognizable obstacles need to express themselves
in “heightened language.” (6) Dramatic dialogue
consists of two parts: narrative and dramatic.
5. RHYTHM The heart of the play. Plot, character, language, and
spectacle all have their individual rhythms in time.
The combination of all these rhythms create the impelling force of the play leading to a final climax and
Denouement. Rhythm creates mood.
6. SPECTACLE Everything that is seen or heard on stage. Actors,
sets, costumes, lights and sound. NOTE: All plays have spectacle—some emphasize spectacle more