Ibsen's Ghost: a Modern Tragedy

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Edith Hamilton, in the Greek Way wrote, "Isben's plays are not tragedies. Whether Isben is a realist or not, small souls are his dramatist personae, and his plays are dramas with an unhappy ending. The end of Ghosts leaves us with a sense of shuddering horror and cold anger towards a society where such things can be, and those are not tragic feelings." Although Hamilton is an exceptionally talented historical researcher, it seems as though Ghosts is indeed a tragedy, even though she assumes otherwise. Even when the play was written, people discussed what type of play it actually was. People debated how to categorize the play because it had features of different kinds of drama. For example, certain critics consider it a satire of which it is an endightment of the their time of day. However the author himself refused to disclose to his readers his motivation, or even his opinion of the characters. He left it up to the readers' interpretation. A reading of the play reveals many features consistent of Ghosts being a modern tragedy. In his Poetics (325 B.C.), Aristotle defines tragedy as "incidents arousing pity and fear" (Chapter 9), which is precisely what Isben achieves through Ghosts when one analyzes its distinguished characters. Several of the characters in Ghosts inspire fear and evoke pity. In this sense, Ghosts, by Isben can be considered a tragedy. Ghosts is the epitome of a tragedy, for the reason that it encompasses the very ideals of one. In Aristotle's Poetics he defines tragedy as "an imitation not only of a complete action, but also of incidents arousing pity and fear. Such incidents have the very greatest effect on the mind when they occur unexpectedly and at the same time in consequence of one another; there is more of the marvelous in them than if they happened themselves or by mere chance." (Chapter 9)

Ibsen embraced these standards through the development of his characters when he wrote Ghosts. Mrs. Alving and Pastor...
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