A Doll's House Questions and Answers
by Henrik Ibsen

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In Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, who is the tragic hero and what is his/her misinterpretation or hamartia (tragic flaw)?

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A Doll's House does not fit neatly into Aristotle's definition of tragedy in The Poetics. The same might be said, however, of several Greek tragedies, even out of the tiny sample that has survived. If we view the play as a tragedy, it is clearly Torvald's tragedy. Nora, although she is the protagonist, does not fulfil any of Aristotle's requirements for a tragic hero except anagnoresis in her discovery of her own nature and that of her relationship with Torvald. She does not fall from a high position, since she starts the play as Torvald's child-wife and actually gains stature and dignity as the action progresses. Neither is it clear that she has any particular flaw that could be dignified by the name of hamartia.

Torvald's position in life is not high by Aristotelian standards, but it is a responsible and respectable role in bourgeois life. There are points of comparison between Torvald and the greatest of all tragic heroes, Oedipus. Like Oedipus, he is metaphorically blind in failing to...

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