History: E491_Corneille

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Assigned: "Of the Three Unities of Action, Time and Place" (363-79).

"Of the Three Unities of Action, Time and Place" (1660)

1. In what sense does Corneille's dramatic theory depend upon a concern for audience psychology? Describe his ideal spectator. (general question)

2. To what extent does Corneille modify or adapt Aristotle's theory of drama in Poetics? Consider mainly Corneille's comments about "unity of action." How does he characterize "action"? How flexible is he? (367-73)

3. Why, according to Corneille, is it best to link scenes carefully and logically? And how does he show concern for changes in audience perception from one era to the next? (369)

4. How does Corneille describe proper dramatic structure? Why should a playwright avoid referring too intensively to the part of the "complication" that supposedly occurred before the play's opening act? (370)

5. What criticism of the ancient tragedians does Corneille offer? How has modern drama improved structurally in comparison with ancient drama? (372-73)

6. Corneille discusses the unity of time — why isn't it a good idea, according to him, to insist too rigidly on this rule? Nonetheless, what strong suggestions with regard to unity of time does Corneille himself make, and why? (373-75)

7. Corneille examines the demand for unity of place — how does his opinion compare to that of Philip Sidney around page 356? (376-78)

Edition: Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN 0393974294.


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