Discuss the depiction of power in Antigone by Sophocles and A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen.

Essay by dreamer73High School, 12th gradeA+, September 2008

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Power is a central element in A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen and Antigone by Sophocles. The realistic dramatic style of Ibsen, derived from his 19th century Norwegian background, and the mythological setting utilised by Sophocles, a key feature of ancient Greek drama, directly influences their depictions of power. This essay will discuss how the depictions of power are influenced by the cultural and historical context of the plays. Additionally, three themes of power present in both plays will be explored - the dangers of excessive power, the powerful versus the powerless and the status of women in society. This essay will address how Sophocles and Ibsen achieve that through their manipulation of literary techniques such as characterisation, imagery, symbolism and diction. Furthermore, the manner in which the dramatists establish a relationship with their audience to regulate the mood will also be examined.

The contrasting depictions of power by Ibsen and Sophocles reflect their distinct cultural backgrounds.

According to Haakonsen (1995), Ibsen saw drama as a 'study of people as individuals and...their interrelationships' (p13). Consequently his dramatic approach was realistic and emphasised the communication of ideas over action. His plays were a microcosm of his society. Ibsen's dramatic style was restrained and operated within the sphere of everyday life, enabling the audience to find a personal connection with the plot. In A Doll's House, the plot is driven by psychological struggles between the characters. The depiction of power in the play centres on everyday power struggles within a typical 19th century Norwegian household, consistent with Ibsen's realistic approach. Power is symbolised through Nora's financial dependence on Torvald and the dominance of males over females.

In contrast, Sophocles was not concerned with realism. Ancient Greek drama was primarily religious and dealt with affairs of the gods. The story itself...