The Use Of Status As A Dramatic Device In The Plays Hedda Gabler And Medea By Ibsen And Euripides

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The use of status as a dramatic device in the plays “Hedda Gabler” and “Medea” by Ibsen and Euripides To suggest that status can be a dramatic device may seem, at first, odd; Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler is a reflection and commentary on social life in nineteenth century Norway whereas Euripides’ intentions in Medea are more political, as he presents his audience with a situation which he feels is ripe for change. However, the more one reads into the two plays Hedda Gabler and Medea the more obvious it becomes that the status of the characters is the driving force of each drama. Unlike Ibsen’s earlier plays which deal with the “inhibition set upon individual freedom…by social and institutional forces” , Hedda Gabler is about private, individual conflict within the person, maybe a result of society’s pressures. This means that the status of each individual in the play is important as relationships unfold. Ibsen is more subtle here than in his earlier plays and allows his characters to engage the sympathies of the audience. Classical Greek Theatre was dependent on the spoken word, as little dramatic action took place in front of the audience. Status is first introduced in the play when the nurse and tutor set the scene at the beginning of Medea: they paint a clear picture of their mistress and her errant husband: “For Jason has become a traitor to his children and my mistress. […] My poor Medea loses all her rights and honours, everything” . Euripides has given great importance to status, and in the introduction to the action the change in status of both Medea and Jason are clearly explained: Medea first lost her status of daughter and citizen of Colchis when she married Jason and left her homeland for Corinth. Before the play begins, she gains the status of a mother, but during the play there is a conflict between this and her overwhelming desire for revenge
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