A Doll's House As A Tragic Hero Analysis

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A tragic hero is defined as a person “who has achieved, or who has the ability to achieve greatness but who through a weakness, or tragic flaw in his character, falls into the depths of misery and often to his death” (Ingham 1). Within Oedipus Rex, Sophocles laid the foundation for what is now considered the ideal tragic hero. Within A Doll’s House, Ibsen creates a modern hero in Nora Helmer; a woman who was oppressed for going against social rules for saving her husband. Nora follows the Aristotelian journey of a tragic hero, from hamartia through her tragic fall into catharsis. She is considered a modern day heroine, but critics argue that Nora does not represent the classic tragic hero because she does not have a reversal of fortune…show more content…
Killing his real father, King Laius, is a good example of hamartia because he acted impulsively with anger. However, that anger was kindled by the pressures and judgements surrounding him. While Oedipus killing his father is an essential link in his downfall, he is just as innocent as Nora for his undoing. Oedipus, blind to the complexity that makes up the universe, tries preventing the prophecy that he “must make love with [his own] mother” and “shed [his] father’s blood with his own hands” (Sophocles 1453). The audience is moved at the end of each play not because Nora and Oedipus are sinful and insecure, but because they tried doing what was right. This irony is what makes these stories so tragic. These heroes desired the right thing, but it ends up leading toward their destruction. Many people have a hard time conceding that A Doll’s House is a tragedy because it has no visible catharsis. Admittingly, it is not a traditional tragedy. It lacks emotional relief for the audience, while Oedipus Rex contains it. A Doll’s House is left wide open at the end and Nora’s character “experience[s] a painful dying of the old self and an equally painful emergence of a new being” (Durbach 58). Nora’s understanding of the tragic flaw leads her to reach her own personal catharsis, which is self-realization, allowing her to fix her problem and complete her tragic hero story. During Act II, Nora

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