Aristotle's Poetics

Understanding Aristotle’s View of the Germans in The Night of the Iguana College

UA cursory glance over some of Tennessee Williams’s most celebrated plays reveals a consistent conformity to Aristotle’s rules of tragedy as outlined in Poetics. Plays such as The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire showcase full plots, superb characters, a spectacle that functions in the correct manner, and all the other markings of a true Aristotelian tragedy. However, this general trend appears at first glance to not be present in Williams’s later play, The Night of the Iguana. The main problem in Aristotle’s view and the one that might prevent Night of the Iguana from being a proper play in this sense is the wedding party of Germans who appear periodically throughout the show. This repellent and ill-formed group defy nearly all Aristotle’s rules for a valid and proper character, and do so in particularly obnoxious and overt ways. Their almost cartoonish defiling of this system could very easily be enough to discredit the play itself from being a proper Aristotelian tragedy. But it does not. This is because the Germans as a group and the show as a whole make far more sense if the latter is interpreted not as part of the branch of Character, but rather as part of the Spectacle.

Before fully exploring why the Germans...

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