Fargo follows Aristotle’s criteria for a tragedy as it shows the main character, Jerry Lundegaard, as a higher type of man. He is first seen as a likable hard working family man who is trying to make a better life for his family. This criteria was described by Aristotle as
an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament … in the form of action, not narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions.
Fargo falls under this ideology as Jerry decides the only way to get himself out of debt is to arrange for his wife’s kidnapping and ransom. Jerry is a relatable guy because throughout the movie he can be seen trying to make business deals to put his family financially ahead, then watching as Wade constantly demeans him, making him feel inadequate. Thus establishing a sense of fear for the viewer that they too could end up in this situation.
Fargo uses a drama, or action rather than narration, to tell the story of Jerry’s decision to have his wife Jean kidnapped. The plot of the movie follows as Jerry meets with the kidnappers, tries to back out of the deal, finds his wife missing, juggling the kidnappers and his father-in-law, meets the chief of police, runs from the chief, tries to recover control, finds his father-in-law dead, and is eventually arrested. This chain of effect is all unified under his first decision to scam his father-in-law Wade out of 1 million dollars. The kidnappers, Gaear and Carl, and Chief Marge add different information to the same unfolding plot. Each of the three perspectives is given in tandem to one another while the plot unfolds thus this movie is also fractal seeing as it jumps between each perspective.
Aristotle defined a complex plot as
one in which the change is accompanied by such reversal, or by recognition, or by both.
There are many complications throughout the movie from Carl and Gaear killing multiple people, to Wade taking his own action, to Marge’s investigation. Each of these complications causes a reversal to Jerry’s perfect and safe plan to get Wade’s money. As the climax comes to its peak before the reversal, Carl has some recognition in that Gaear’s involvement, which was his choice, may cost him. This can be seen in his facial expression during the police and witness murder, and later when he argues with Gaear about the car and is shot. Alongside that Marge experiences recognition of how her “boring” husband and life are actually great. As she is finishing the case and arrests Gaear, she is seen laying with her husband at night and she expresses how good of a life they have. Jerry on the other hand has many chances to see the error in his plan, but continues to find other people to blame. Even though Jerry purposely avoids recognition, Marge and Carl’s recognition adds to the complexity of the plot. The final resolution is the downfall of the likable Jerry as he is seen throwing a tantrum as he is arrested by two officers.