The notion of falling height is directly connected with the state clause, a dramenpetic principle. The state clause states that in a tragedy only kings, princes, and figures with a high social rank should be represented, where the simple bourgeoisie should be shown in comedies. This was justified by the fact that only figures with a very high status have the corresponding drop height to be regarded as tragic in the event of failure. This also means that the life of the bourgeoisie has too little importance to reach a fall which would come to the fore in tragedy.
The basic principle of this state clause is already found in Aristotle, which states that tragedy should show above all the life of the good and fair people, with the affairs of the bad and ugly people being reserved for comedy. Aristotle’s statement, however, is quite general, and was only increasingly interpreted socially from the sixteenth century onwards and directly related to the estates. In 1746 Charles Batteux coined the notion of falling height.
Charles Batteux, a critic, titled the principle for the first time in the treatise Les Beaux-Arts réduits à un même principe, describing the necessity of the fall of the tragic protagonist. The work was successful and was taken up by many scholars such as Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer describes in The World as Will and Idea (1819/1844) that the hopelessness and the failure of the tragic hero can only be clarified meaningfully, if the heroic hero had a princely rank, whereas the fate of the bourgeois seems inappropriate for this had only problems which could be solved.
Ultimately, it is a matter of the fact that only the case of a hero who holds a high position and seems morally solidified can have the desired effect on the audience, the depth of his case being decisive for the public’s impact. In the course of the modernization of the drama and the overthrow of the state clause, however, the principle of fall height disappeared, which is why figures with a low status are also shown in tragic conflicts, since their problems with time resemble those of the nobility. In this sense, the fall height can hardly be found in modern drama.