Justice In Antigone And A Doll’s House

1448 words - 6 pages

Before comparing these two pieces of works, the definition of justice is needed to address the question as fully as possible. Justice is a concept which involves fair and ethical treatment for everyone. It is usually seen as the continued effort to do what is right. In most cases this is done by making use of logic. This is the premise which is going to be used for justice when comparing the two works. Sophocles’ Antigone differs largely from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House since they were written in different centuries and different cultures, but at the same time both works share similarities. Ibsen does not identify a direct problem and he chooses to develop his characters and the problem as the play unfolds. Sophocles begins Antigone with a challenge directed at the power of the king. This directly identifies a problem and source of tension from the start of the play in contrast to Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Tensions arise in both works when the female protagonists disobey laws which they find contradictory to their values and beliefs. The protagonists stand by their beliefs throughout unlike their counter parts who continue to change their beliefs.

Ibsen chooses to create and develop his characters at the same time as developing the source of the dilemma. We see the problem later on when Nora and Christine hold their first discussion. Ibsen does not disclose the precise nature of the loan during this discussion. Nora presents the issue vaguely with a simple question, “Is it imprudent to save your husband’s life?” With the question presented in such a way, the audience is placed in a position where they agree with Nora since saving someone is usually considered to be heroic. The audience discovers later, however, that although Nora’s actions were just, they were still done illegally thus creating a moral dilemma. When Krogstad asks her whether or not she knew she had committed a crime, she replies in the negative to which Krogstad replies that his own crime was “nothing more or nothing worse” then what she has done. Through Krogstad, Ibsen verifies the point that despite the law being just or not, it is “the law by which” Nora “will be judged” and that “the law cares nothing about motives”. Nora’s arguments are presented with an emphasis on moral absolutes. When she cries, “No, it’s impossible! I did it for love’s sake”, it shows us that no matter what the reason was for breaking the law, the law does not care and the person has to bear the punishment. Ibsen treats the law with an intuitive sense of right and wrong. Like Sophocles, Ibsen argues that rather than the law themselves, the premises on which they are based are of more importance. This way of presenting the problem begs the question of whether or not the law is just in punishing Nora for her actions. This question is similar to that of Sophocles but he presents the dilemma in a different manner.

Sophocles opens Antigone by having his titled character challenge the power of the king which...

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