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Hamlet, Nora, and the changing form of tragedy Suratos, Jennifer


William Shakespeare’s influence on the genre of tragedy is both powerful and undeniable, while contemporary notions about tragedy have shifted into a modern light through the influence of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. This study concentrates specifically on Hamlet and A Doll’s House in order to indicate the ways in which ideas of tragedy have evolved. By investigating the effect of religion in Hamlet and the absence of it in A Doll’s House, I will argue that the main shift in tragedy is the loss of God. This thesis examines the transformation of the two heroes throughout the course of their respective plays and, in doing so, identifies the formal features which mark their claims to tragedy. While their processes differ greatly—Hamlet’s transformation is through a super-textual and self-analytic process while Nora’s process is one that emphasizes action over thought—both of their journeys are tied to the crucial and utterly tragic truth that they must face: the breakdown of their family.

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