Ibsen's Ghosts vs. Aristotle's Poetics

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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 makes many mistakes and her judgments lead to the ultimate tragedy her intentions are good. "Yes, I was swayed by duty and consideration for others; that was why I lied to my son day in and day out." (Ghosts; pg. 29) She loves and wants to protect her son and to do so she feels she must shelter him from the truths of his father. "I want my boy to be happy, that is all I want. Mrs. Alving's goal is to purge herself and her loved one's from the past and the guilt which she feels for hiding the sins of her husband and therefore her family name. "I had been taught about duty, and the sort of thing that I believed in so long here. Everything seemed to turn upon duty-- my duty, or his duty-- and I am afraid I made your poor father's home unbearable for him Oswald." (ghosts pd. 53)

Ibsen takes on a very ‘modernistic' attitude in his creation of Mrs. 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...
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