William Shakespeare and Henrik Ibsen’s Plays

 William Shakespeare and Henrik Ibsen are renowned to incorporate suicide in their plays. Indeed, plays like Othello and Hedda Gabler end tragically as the protagonists kill themselves at the end. On that account, suicide plays a prominent role and is a key theme in these tragic plays. Both Othello and Gabler commit suicide at the end of the plays as the protagonists see their deaths as a form of retribution for the actions they have committed to other people. Analysis of Suicide in Othello Othello can be described as a tragic hero. To that extent, it is extremely important that he should acknowledge, at the play’s conclusion, his contribution in the actions which brought about his own demise. It is through this acknowledgment in the finale of the play that the protagonist enables the audience to perceive that he still has morals that he sticks (Macaulay, 259). Even though he is not inherently an outstanding character, his jealousy flaw does not entail that he has lost his humanity.         

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It is important to note that suicide does not occur in a play setting in England. On that note, the suicide in Shakespeare’s plays, when they happen to the protagonists, are usually exclusively in his ancient Roman plays and play setting Italy, like Othello and even Romeo and Juliet. This places a gap between the action and the notion that it is a sin and gives it a heroic aspect in a manner that the Romans perceive it (Macaulay, 260). By committing suicide, Othello is acknowledging the role of his actions, and to certain degree, redeeming his image. After he murdered Desdemona, he now personally hands out the same fate to himself. It is clear that he regards it as a form of punishment, as he relates his self-blow to the sentence, he, at one time, dished out to an Aleppo Turk who had “traduced the state” (Shakespeare, 24). Othello relates his own actions, in this light, to that Turk, and he dishes it out to himself what he regards as a rationale punishment.        

Othello’s suicide symbolizes his acknowledgment of his crime of killing Desdemona and his comprehension that, even though Iago induced him to such an action, he is essentially the one who has to take responsibility for it. It symbolizes Othello’s sense of honor; an individual like him could not go on to exist after what he had done to his wife, who was innocent (Macaulay, 261). The protagonist accepts his mistake to great grief. In a noble and sad speech before committing suicide, his only request is that his story is accurately told. He does not want to be depicted as a villain and neither does he want his crimes painted in positive light to enable him to look heroic. As he frames it, Talk of me as you see me. Nothing extenuates, and do not show mischievousness (Shakespeare, 117). Othello wants to be recalled as a person who “loved not wisely, but too well,” and as a person who threw a jewel that was his wife (Shakespeare, 117). The protagonist also wants to be recalled as an individual who achieved nothing more but act reasonable by committing suicide. The Othello the audience meets at the conclusion is detached from the spree that led him to murder his wife (Macaulay, 263). He manages to rise to heroic status in his last act and consequently the audience regrets his tragic conclusion.         

When one considers the Aristotelian description of a tragic hero, the protagonist’s suicide is key since it marks Othello’s acknowledgement for his behavior and acts as self-inflicted punishment. Some critics assert that by taking his own life, the protagonist actually opts for the easy way out. After stabbing Iago and Iago states that we cannot die due to the wound, Othello asserts that “’tis happiness to die” (Shakespeare, 118). Fundamentally, these critics reason that Othello does not have to endure the consequences of his acts in the long run. On the other hand, some critics assert Othello’s death is the definitive punishment. If one considers suicide to be a sin, as it was an acknowledged belief during the time Shakespeare wrote the play, then it can be assumed that the protagonist is destined to go to hell for his action (Macaulay, 265). In both circumstances, his suicide is a type of self-punishment and demonstrates that he has taken responsibility for his acts. Analysis of Suicide in Hedda Gabler         

The protagonist, Hedda Gabler is a female character full of contempt, and this is demonstrated when Ibsen uses terms like cold and derisive to describe her evil nature. Throughout the drama, the author incorporates the actions into the personality of Hedda to demonstrate her joy in the manipulation of other people (Sturman, 34). He uses descriptions like Half smiling, half vicious (Ibsen, 802); with a derisive gesticulation (803); Quietly, expressing a sharp glance at him (813); Suppressing a smile (821). The protagonist knowingly plays with the feelings of other people with no consideration as she feels privileged to be the general’s daughter and cannot see any life purpose since she is bored many at times; this is why she is thrilled by pointing a gun at others. Consequently, the gun occupies a pivotal position in the narration. Whilst she employs the arm to have fun, it eventually results in her death.       

Based, on the above description, the puzzle of the play is why the protagonist kills herself at the temple. It was after establishing the truth about the death of Eilert death, which was not as thrilling as she expected it to be. Nonetheless, it was a delicate falsehood that Judge Brack sated supported Thea to ensure that she does not become more depressed (Sturman, 37). The fact that Brack revealed to Hedda that Eilert Lovborg killed himself through a gunshot on the belly and not, on the chest in secret. Hedda asserts that the demise was a curse that prevails in all things that she has touched. Therefore; to put herself out of a miserable state, she killed herself in the temple to evade a miserable life; she wants to demonstrate the meaning of a beautiful death and show the kind of liberation in the action. She states that, It is liberation for me to realize that in this world a deed of courage, executed in full, free determination, is practical. Something bathed in a bright sluice of unexpected beauty (Ibsen, 834). What Hedda performed was a brave act driven by free and full will.        

Just before the protagonist takes away her life, she prophesizes her death when she states that Oh, which will occur in time (Ibsen, 837). This is after Mrs. Elevsted states that she could motivate Tesmen, in the same way as Lovborg. The utilization of the dash symbol in the statement to stress in-time symbolizes that Mrs. Elevsted and Tesman would be together after Hedda’s death. The protagonist, who always had power of other people, is threatened by the Judge since it in his authority to isolate the scandals that are directed towards her. 

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William Shakespeare and Henrik Ibsen's Plays. (2019, Jul 18). Retrieved February 2, 2023 , from

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