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Examples of Narrative Analysis

This is an exercise page, with examples of how narrative analysis using Aristotle’s elements and other methods might be applied to specific cases. This might be a good page to use for classroom assignments. Our first example, below, uses a radio play (which, not coincidentally, was written by the author of these pages). You should use this page in conjunction with Aristotle’s Six Elements of Drama.

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Are you a high school or university student who has been assigned to research this topic? Do you like science fiction? If so, you may wish to try the video below as a way to experience how Aristotle’s elements are combined in a short science-fiction radio play. Because it is a radio play, rather than a stage play or film, it does not have, to any great degree, what Aristotle calls “Spectacle.” It does have all the other elements used in ways that can make an Aristotlean analysis of it relatively easy. If you enjoy the play, please leave a comment in the area provided below.

Questions:

  1. Choose one moment in the play and describe how the MELODY (music) influences the mood or message of that moment. Use the YouTube (Watch on YouTube) button at the bottom of the screen image above to go the YouTube page so you can see the titles of each piece in the music credits. There are 4 musical selections used, shown in the order of use in the play.
  2. According to Aristotle, characters may say enunciate “some universal proposition” that reflects on THOUGHT, one of the three most important elements in drama. What important, thought-worthy ideas or propositions do some of the characters put forward? Describe at least one instance where a character expresses an important thought — one with broad application or intellectual significance.
  3. What kind of person is each main CHARACTER? What virtues or flaws does he or she have? Note that one of the characters describes some of his own flaws. You might use Aristotle’s virtues and vices as guidelines.
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By Anthony Birch

Anthony Birch, Ph.D. has taught Business Ethics, Introduction to Ethics, Contemporary Ethics, and Introduction to Philosophy at a number of colleges and universities. He is the co-author of How to Ace Your Online Course, available at Amazon.

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