“An action which is one and continuous in the sense above defined, I call SIMPLE, when the change of fortune takes place without Reversal of the Situation and without Recognition. A COMPLEX action is one in which the change is accompanied by such Reversal, or by Recognition, or by both.”
(Poetics, Part X)
Having dispensed with the episodic, Aristotle goes on to describe the difference between the SIMPLE and the COMPLEX plot.
As his above definition indicates, they have similar characteristics, both being complete, whole, unified, and made up of causally connected events. In fact, they differ only in that the complex plot has a reversal that leads to a change of fortune, while the simple plot ...