Ibsen's Ghosts Vs. Aristotle's Poetics Essay

753 Words 4 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
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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 machine-made.” (Ghosts; pg. 31) He not only allows a woman to be the heroin, but he exposes emotions and situations which were not nessesarily acceptable at his time. Aristotle felt that “even a woman may be good,....though a woman may be said to be an inferior being.” Here it is seen that although Aristotle acknowledges that a dramatist could use a female as a tragic hero, he advises against it. He certainly would not have approved of the strong and complex character Ibsen invented in Mrs. Alving. Ibsen’s apparent separation from the traditional idea of tradgedy seems to highlight the already controversial themes.
Aristotle believed that the second element to a satisfactory character is propriety. He defines propriety as “a type of manly valor; but valor in a woman, or unscrupulous cleverness, is inappropriate.” Although somewhat unconventional, Ibsen gives Mrs.
Alving admirable behavior and being. “I
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