In "Aristotle's Poetics", the author, a Greek philosopher, gives his theory of what makes up a tragedy. He gives his insight about which aspects of a piece of art render it tragic or simple. Victorrio De Sica's film The Bicycle Thief possesses some of the qualities and aspects of Aristotle's theory, but certainly not all. Whether it can be considered a tragic film or not is based on the perspective of each audience member, and whether or not they consider all of Aristotle's aspects vital to its classification. .
Many people will say that The Bicycle Thief is a tragedy. Although the film is lacking some elements, it possesses many qualities Aristotle deems necessary for a successful tragedy. Aristotle specifies in chapter 15 that in order for the antagonist to be a tragic hero, he must be good, have good qualities, be realistic, and be consistent (Aristotle 55). The main character, Alberto, does in fact fit these qualifications. Aristotle also states in chapter 13 that the plot must consist of a moment of peripeteia, a reversal of affairs, and a moment of anagnorisis, a change from ignorance to knowledge. Alberto does not have any moment where he goes from ignorance to knowledge. Throughout the film, he is looking to get back his bicycle but to no avail. Since the film does not fulfill these requirements, it would be classified as having a simple plot. .
The main reason an audience member would argue that the film is in fact a tragedy is because of its ability to evoke pity and fear in the audience. The ability to rouse pity and fear in the audience is the sign of a true tragedy and while "fear and pity sometimes result from the spectacle, [they] are sometimes aroused by the actual arrangements of the incidents, which is preferable and the mark of a better [author]" (Aristotle, 49). Aristotle is trying to explain that the pity and fear is more effective and preferable when it is a result of the actual storyline, not from the actions of the actors.