Mimesis means imitation. There is a major difference between Plato’s theory of imitation and Aristotle’s theory of imitation. The Platonic view is that the world is an imperfect reflection of an ideal archetypal order. Poetry, being an imitation of an imitation, is thrice removed from reality. However, Aristotle rejects Plato’s doctrine of ideas. For Plato imitation means copying, whereas for Aristotle it is creative and dynamic. It is representation and not just copying that Aristotle has in mind, not a representation of men as they are. The artist imitates things as they ought to be, and so, art is a free and voluntary activity of the human consciousness, free from any utilitarian motives.
We derive pleasure from the artistic representations of even the most repelling of things. We see into the life of things. Imitation leads us from the particular to the universal. Art is a source of insight into life. For Aristotle mimesis does not mean photographic reproduction. Rather, it means a recreation of inner human action.
Copyright © Manu Mangattu, Assistant Professor, Department of English, St Goege's College Aruvithura
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