Aristotle considers plot to be the most important element in Tragedy. Tragedy is the imitation of men in action and thus an imitation of human life which consists in action. It includes feelings and thoughts which are incorporated into an action.
Plot is Soul of Tragedy
Plot is the action. In tragedy, the plot involves the change in fortunes, preferably from happiness to misery. It involves an arrangement of incidents in a sequence which projects a sense of the inevitable. The character is revealed to us through their actions. Thus the plot is of supreme importance.
Character Comes Next in Importance to Plot
Now, when Aristotle says that there can be a tragedy without character but none without plot, he obviously does not intend “character” to mean dramatic characters, for that would make his statement absurd. The term, “character’, apparently means moral bent or tendency. What Aristotle means, is that dramatic action does not mainly aim at the presentation of character or nature of a human beings, but present the action or incident. It is thus that Characterization is not as important as plot.
The Validity of Aristotle’s View
Modern drama has opened out a richer and more varied inner life to us. Sense of personality has deepened. Thus Aristotle’s view is not much in favour today. Character and plot, in fact, are connected in a causal manner. Action itself implies feelings, emotions, thoughts and decisive power, which are obviously human qualities of character. Situation and character are shown to interact and it is in the resulting clash and conflict that great tragedy could be written, as Shakespeare showed. Aristotle does not discuss the element in conflict. However, drama cannot be successful with a total concentration on the inner life of man. At least a suitable balance has to be maintained between character-analysis and plot. To that extent we can say that Aristotle was correct to say that there can be drama without characterization, but that without a plot it would fail.