Tragic Pleasure


Senior Member
“THE MONSTROUS IS inimical to the tragic pleasure,” Aristotle wrote. Maybe so, but there are other kinds of pleasure. The several versions of Frankenstein, Dracula, King Kong, Jaws, The Terminator, and Alien have all revolved around monsters, and they give immense pleasure to their audiences, even if, in Aristotle’s terms, they are not tragic.

The Power of Film by Howard Suber (Page 259).

Google search on 'Tragic Pleasure' gives the meaning as 'The tragic pleasure is a paradox. In a tragedy, a happy ending doesn't make us happy.'

My understanding of what Aristotle said was, monsters gets killed at the end of the film, so that don't give pleasure to the audience. Am I right or does he mean something else?

  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    I'm not an Aristotle expert, but it seems to me it is not about real 'Monsters' as in Dracula, King Kong etc. It refers to monstrous events – in other words, exaggerated. 'inhuman' acts or similar: a mother eats her three children; or someone slits their lover's throat just to see what happens. Aristotle seems to be saying that if the action is TOO horrific, you don't feel the 'pleasure' (in catharsis) of a classic tragic story.

    The 'pleasure' people get from modern films with 'monsters' in them is a different matter – enjoying being scared (safely), the 'goodies' winning, and so on. I think the author is right, that Aristotle would not call stories like these films 'tragedies'.