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Escapism and power as entwined themes in Anouilhs Antigone and Ibsens A Dolls House.

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Debjani Mukherjee World Literature essay Escapism and power as entwined themes in Anouilh's Antigone and Ibsen's A Doll's House. Escapism is the ability of a person to leave his or her physical surroundings, and transcend into a world of their own, in order to flee the harsh truth of reality. This ability can give an individual power, or make them lose it. This concept is highlighted in Anouilh's Antigone and Ibsen's A Doll's House, through the subtle use of symbols, foreshadowing, and imagery. In this light, escapism and power can be seen as themes with a linked purpose; to drive the play forward by building up emotions that culminate in acts of rebellion at the end of each play. With reference to this, escapism as a means to gain and lose power, and power as a trigger for escapism will be analyzed in this essay. Escapism as a means to gain power is portrayed in Anouilh's play Antigone through his protagonist. Although mentioned only once, the 'grey world' that Antigone is so fascinated with serves as a symbol for her escapist persona. She says 'It was beautiful. The whole world was grey when I went out. And now - you wouldn't recognize it. It is like a post card: all pink, green, and yellow.'1 The colour grey alludes to bleakness, imagery of a world without colour, which could connote to a world without men or human interference. ...read more.


She is trying to maintain her unrealistic world, as she is aware that this conflict is close to shattering it. This prevents her from gaining any sort of influence over her husband, as she is not able to assert her independence by breaking free of her idealistic, although restrictive world. Thus, by attempting to conform to the expectations of the rigid post war society that the play is situated in, Nora hampers her ability to gain power. This is similar to the loss of power in Antigone; however, it is brought on by Antigone's absorption in the past which leads her to reject her maturity, and thus her power as an adult in society. This brings to light a minor, although significant undercurrent in both plays; the theme of childhood. This is linked to escapism, as it is a technique that Anouilh and Ibsen use to further their protagonists' escapist natures, and thus restrict their ability to gain power. Both female protagonists are depicted as child women, although Antigone's child like character stems from her reluctance to emerge from the past, Nora's is imposed upon her by her domineering husband, Torvald. For both women, this image causes them to lose power by fueling their escapist tendencies. For Nora, it is part of the character she plays for Torvald, and thus a part of her unrealistic world. ...read more.


His reluctant acceptance of power indicated by the line 'God knows, there were other things I loved in life more than power' leads him to advise his page 'Never grow up if you can help it.' This suggests a certain attachment to the past, when life was simpler and free of the constraints of responsibility. The page himself is a symbol of this attachment, as he represents Creon as a young boy. Additionally, he is always by Creon's side, reinforcing his subtle connection with the past. Thus, he exhibits a minor form of escapism induced by the weighty responsibility of having the power of the state. The themes of escapism and power, when linked, can prove to be a powerful tool to convey thoughts, and foreshadow character development. When combined with hints of childhood as a sub theme, these two motifs are revealed to be effective literary techniques in both plays, unveiling aspects of character that would at first glance pass undetected. Ibsen and Anouilh have shown escapism to moderate and amplify power, and in relation to this, power as a trigger for escapism. It is this interweaving of themes through symbols and imagery that truly enhances a piece of literary work, and gives it layers of depth. 1348 words. 1 Antigone by Jean Anouilh adapted and translated by Lewis Galanti�re, page 6 ?? ?? ?? ?? [Type text] ...read more.

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