Ibsen's Ghosts Vs. Aristotle's Poetics Essay

703 words - 3 pages

Ibsen’s Ghosts, although a relatively modern drama, maintains many classical
elements of tragedy as defined by Aristotle and championed by the ancient Greek
playwrights and poets. One element of displayed prominently in this case is
character. Aristotle believed that there were four main elements to a good tragic hero:
1) the character must be good, 2) decorum, 3) the character must be true to life, and
4) constancy within the characters demeanor and actions. The tragic hero in Ibsen’s
Ghosts, Mrs. Alving, fits into these criterion, yet Ibsen also strays from Aristotle’s
conventions.
“The character will be good if the purpose is good.” (pg. 27), according to
Poetics. Ibsen attempts to create a good character in Mrs. Alving. Although she
makes many mistakes and her judgments lead to the ultimate tragedy her intentions
are good. “Yes, I was swayed by duty and consideration for others; that was why I
lied to my son day in and day out.” (Ghosts; pg. 29) She loves and wants to protect
her son and to do so she feels she must shelter him from the truths of his father. “I
want my boy to be happy, that is all I want. Mrs. Alving’s goal is to purge herself and
her loved one’s from the past and the guilt which she feels for hiding the sins of her
husband and therefore her family name. “I had been taught about duty, and the sort of
thing that I believed in so long here. Everything seemed to turn upon duty-- my duty,
or his duty-- and I am afraid I made your poor father’s home unbearable for him
Oswald.” (ghosts pd. 53)
     Ibsen takes on a very ‘modernistic’ attitude in his creation of Mrs. Alving. The
fact that she is female, intelligent and not at all portrayed as inferior to men, makes
her character and role as a tragic hero unique and impressive. She is insightful and
open to questioning the conventional thinking; “by praising as right and just what my
whole soul revolted against, as it would against something abominable. That was
what led me examine your teachings critically. I only wanted to unravel one point in
them; but as soon as I had got unraveled, the whole fabric came to pieces. And then I
realized that it was only...

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