Señor Don Gato [according to Aristotle]

“Señor Don Gato” is a children’s song loosely translated from the traditional Spanish song “Estaba el señor Don Gato” [yet with the melody of “Ahora Que Vamos Despacio“].

The song recounts the misadventures of Señor Don Gato, a tom-cat who receives a love letter from ‘a lady cat, who was fluffy, white, and nice and fat‘ and in [mock ?] paroxysms of joy, falls to his untimely death. The English version was published in a Grade 3 music book in 1964.

While simple in form, the song displays many of the hallmarks of classic tragedy and scene creation as outlined by Aristotle in his timeless, Poetics (c. 335 BCE)

Let me explain.

Somewhat profoundly, Aristotle, put forth the idea the play should imitate a single whole action which,

has a beginning and middle and end.

By this blinding insight,  Aristotle means that the events follow each other by probability or necessity, and that the causal chain has a beginning and an end.

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According to Poetics,  the tragedy is devised around a knot, a central problem that the protagonist must face. In our case, the knot arrives in the form of a love letter for Don Gato prompting his heart to react with violent emotion.

Aristotle continues: the tragic play has two parts: complication and unraveling. During complication, the protagonist finds trouble as the knot is revealed or tied and these complications arise from a flaw in the protagonist character ultimately leading to his or her undoing.

In the case of Señor Don Gato, this flaw is arguably either the vulnerability of his heart to love, or the invulnerability of an alley-cat to be tied down to love. Which of these plague our protagonist is up to the audience interpretation.

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Aristotle continues: in the second part, named the unraveling, the knot is resolved. To explain this, two types of scenes are of special interest: the reversal, which throws the action in a new direction, and should happen as a necessary and probable cause of what happened before, and the recognition, meaning the protagonist has an important revelation. .

You need only listen to four more verses to hear how Don Gato’s dilemma is resolved through a rather amusing reversal scene through perhaps a recognition of Don Gato’s true heart orientation. 

Perhaps, the ballad of Señor Don Gato follows the pattern of a comedy, rather than a tragedy, however, we cannot discover that from Aristotle’s Poetics since the second part of his work, the part addressing comedy, was lost.

For now we will have to settle with a tragical reading of Señor Don Gato according to Aristotle