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In A Moment Of Self Discovery English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 999 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House, Nora experiences a quick epiphany at the dénouement of the play; this moves the plot forward into the resolution (at least for Nora). This final scene is compressed into Aristotle’s Theory of tragedy of a complex plot. The actions between Nora and Torvald surprise the audience in several manners, while continuing the story. The act of reading Krogstad’s second letter received by the maid contributes to preipeteia. This occurs because Krogstad produced a letter of amnesty, an effect opposite to which he intended to produce, originally wanting to expose Nora’s debt to him and longing for Helmer’s new job. This event expedites the next, anagnorisis, allowing Nora’s epiphany to take place, producing conflict between herself and Torvald. Nora’s new perspective places Torvald into confusion, trying to understand her personal revelation:

HELMER (sitting at the table directly opposite her). You

worry me, Nora. And I don’t understand you.

HELMER. How do you mean that?

HELMER. What’s that? [1] 

The affect of a complex plot, or the cause-and-effect chain led to catastrophe. In terms of A Doll House, Nora leaves, slamming the door shut, abandoning the suffering Torvald; thus, bringing the complex plot to an ending.

Antigone, in addition has a moment of anagnorisis in her final soliloquy of Sophocles’ Oedipus trilogy. She realizes that no one is there to save her from her metaphoric death, or literally the entombment. Seeking help from man and gods, she receives nothing but sympathetic feelings from the Theban elders; perhaps being victim of the Oedipus family curse. Having been abandoned by all, her personal dirge outlines her sacrifice for her brother, the hypothetical actions performed with a future husband (Haemon) and children, the love of her family, and a curse upon Creon. Acting upon the peripeteia of Creon’s punishment in the third episode, her soliloquy provides a chance of self-discovery in the next episode of the play. This chain of effects creates the catastrophe within Antigone, leading to Creon’s suffering of both Haemon’s and Eurydice’s death in the exodos. Antigone’s epiphany of loneliness affects the plot because of her own death and the curse set on Creon. His grievance over family suicides progresses the plot, feeling ashamed for all he has done.

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Comparing both tragedy’s they use anagnorisis in the female protagonists, later influencing plot. In Aristotle’s view, plot is most important priority of a tragedy. Seemingly, both plays use a complex plot structure in the lusis of action. Ibsen compresses this unravelling in the last ten pages of the tragedy, compared to Sophocles’ expanded over six separate scenes. The agency of self-discovery is defined as the ‘change from ignorance to knowledge’ and Nora goes through a much more rational process than Antigone. Nora’s naiveté stems from how she is treated as a woman. Her knowledge is gained through and used against Torvald, explaining her stream of consciousness before leaving the family. Nora’s epiphany has a smaller affect on character and plot outcome, as Antigone’s anagnorisis is overwhelming with the affects ranging for the rest of the play. At first, our Greek protagonist assumes that burying her brother Polynices is justifiable through the gods, however earthly laws state it is illegal. Therefore, when she is brought back to Creon to hear her final outcome, a life and death situation, her mindset changes. Accepting her actions and the chaotic environment around her, she kills herself so she can be with her loving family. Nora and Antigone’s anagnorisis leads to more actions, the catastrophe; however, it is Antigone’s reaction to it that stands out because it leads suicide. In addition, the effect of the female self-discovery affects their male opposite detrimentally. In A Doll House, Torvald is left sitting alone, bewildered. in contrast Creon is left with no family. His son and wife are dead. The use of anagnorisis in A Doll House and in Antigone develop the plot, but it is Sophocles’ Antigone that dramatizes the affect of self-discovery, leading to multiple deaths and Creon’s sorrow.

Comparison between plot development/complexity

Characterization with self-discovery


She wants a new life with a real meaning

She can only have a real life outside of the house,

Within the house she is trapped, she doesn’t like Torvald’s care for her

Her epiphany stems from the way Torvald acts, and what he said

He is not emotionally devoted to her

But it devoted on how he can “play with” or handle her life, like the father

Transforming into a new woman, with her new found independence

She cannot stand being controlled anymore

Characterization through inner thoughts and feelings that are expressed through dialogue

Torvald initiates her stream of consciousness and reasoning

She becomes stronger as an independent woman

Challenging society and Torvald/rules

The conflicting views of honour and women


Her self-discovery only contains anagnorisis

She realizes that she is alone and cannot be saved by anyone

In normal spoken verse, a solliliquy is said by her

Recollecting on the main thoughts on the tragedy of this play

Burying her dead brother sending him to the underworld, in return she dies because of her unlawful actions

Although respecting the gods, she didn’t receive the same respect on earth

Compare and Contrast the characterization effects



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