Leonard Peikoff evaluates the first seven plays in the course Eight Great Plays, discussing such questions (from the course homework) as: “Who is the strongest heroine?,” “Which play has the most ingenious plot-theme?,” “Which is the best play?” etc. Peikoff’s explanations cover such issues as: What counts in evaluating a character’s heroism? Must a play be philosophical to be great? Why must a play have uniquely memorable characters to be great? In evaluating plot, why is artificiality a good thing? What is the role of personal reactions to a play, as against objective judgments? Peikoff concludes the lecture by stressing the personal, selfish value of cultivating skill in objective esthetic judgment.
Spoiler alert: The lesson assumes students have read the plays discussed.