Classical plays, for Aristotle, are subject to the three unities: plot, place, and time. In order for a play to be an effective drama, Aristotle believed that these three unities must first be followed so that the play was succinct and perfect in form. The three unities also involve the six elements of the classical play structure: plot, character, thought, diction, music, and spectacle. Aristotle believed that Sophocles was the best play write because he successfully integrated the three unities and the six elements of drama. Aristotle outlines in his Poetics, that he does not approve of new poet’s manner of writing because they seemed to twist plots and make the actors more important than the character. (What would Aristotle think of modern celebrities? He would certainly condemn stardom.) Aristotle argues to preserve the techniques of Sophocles and Euripedes, both who provide the model for correct drama.
Aristotle argues that plot and character are the primary elements of play structure. Plot is the first important element. Plot is subject to the three unities because Aristotle argued that the plot should be concise, with as little sub-plots as possible, and that the plot should cover a 24-hr span of time, and no more than that. Aristotle feels that character is the second most important element in a play. A character should be constrained by the three unities, a local character who has a cause and effect relationship with the rest of the characters and elements in the play. Aristotle argues to preserve play structure because his teacher, Plato, felt that drama was “dangerous” for society. Aristotle’s Poetics responded to this idea by creating a system of control for the dramas, proving that drama is not socially dangerous as Plato had argued.