Comparing A Doll's House and Oedipus Rex Essay

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Comparing A Doll's House and Oedipus Rex

Ibsen's drama "A Doll's House", serves as an example of the kind of issue-based drama that distinguishes Ibsen from many of his contemporaries. The play's dialogue is not poetic, but very naturalistic, and the characters are recognizable people. Given the sense of modernity which the play possesses it seems unusual to compare it to a Greek tragedy produced more than two-thousand years previously.

On closer examination however, there are certain similarities between the way in which "A Doll's House" is plotted and a tragedy such as Oedipus Rex. Both "Oedipus" and "A Dolls' House" depict disastrous events that occur to two very different characters. At the start of Oedipus, we
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Oedipus flees from Corinth falsely believing that Polybus and Merope are his parents, he hopes that this will make the oracle's prediction that he will murder his father and sleep with his mother impossible. This virtuous act is of course a massive error since it leads him to his real parentsIt is interesting to note that Nora only borrows money in "A Doll's House" in an attempt to save the life of her sick husband. Her act of kindness misguided as it may be, is the catalyst for the events that follow. The way in which the actions of both Nora and Oedipus backfire in such a tragic way is an example of what in Greek literary tradition is known as Peripitia. This word translates as a "reversal" and to gain an understanding of the tragic condition it is important that the theme of reversal is examined. In Oedipus there are many examples of reversal, when actions have the exact opposite effect to that which were intended. When Oedipus sends for the shepherd whom he hopes will allay his fear, over his parentage, his arrival has the exact opposite effect. In this respect the tow plays are very similar they employ many of the same dramatic devices to achieve their goals.

Reversal is key to both plays since by the end of both plays the social conditions of both Oedipus and Nora have changed completely. It is interesting to note that unlike a Shakespearean drama in which the tragic hero always dies, neither Oedipus nor Nora die.