Ibsens A Dolls House
Henrik Ibsen published "A Doll's House" in 1879 and Nora, the protagonist, is a rebel against the constrictions of the patriarchal society in which she lives. There are many great topics to explore within Ibsen's work and A Doll's House is perhaps his most interesting. If you have a research project due on Ibsen's A Doll's House, consider the following topic suggestions that our writers have throughout up or have them write on any topic you choose:
- How Nora is a rebel during the time in which Ibsen wrote the play
- The theme of freedom and the human spirit in A Doll's House
- The men that drive the action in A Doll's House
- Do men like Torvald still exist today? Give a character sketch of Torvald, as Nora views him
The realistic style that Ibsen perfected in A Doll's House revolutionized theater throughout Western society. Beginning with the 1877 play The Pillars of Society, Ibsen abandoned the more conventional subject matter and techniques he had previously relied on, choosing instead to delve into topical social issues using an authentic approach that sought to convey the intricacies and rhythms of real human interactions and entanglements.
Rather than continuing to produce the allegorical, affected historical dramas he had written during the earlier phases of his career, Ibsen chose instead to plumb the depths of the social changes that were occurring throughout Europe, using representative situations that were often culled from the actual life experiences of Ibsen and his acquaintances. Through an analysis of Ibsen's use of language, dialogue, and plot structure in A Doll's House, the realism of the play will be examined.
Although it is not readily apparent in art essays how to approach A Doll's House in English translation, one of the chief differences between this play and other productions of the period was the language with which Ibsen brought his characters to life. Rather than filling his characters' mouths with an overwrought, formal version of the Norwegian language, Ibsen called upon a colloquial, informal dialect as a means of underscoring the realism he hoped to achieve in A Doll's House. By representing the way that people actually engaged in discourse, Ibsen sought to minimize the distance between lived life and drama as a means of increasing the social significance of the genre of theater.
Henrik Ibsen shows a keen understanding of the human spirit and the strong desire for freedom in his play "A Doll's House". Nora Helmer lives trapped in a marriage because of the subservient role women must take in this patriarchal society. Her character arc develops through the action of the play until the climax where she is liberated from the constrictions of this society and she escapes to find her independence. The author does not reveal what happens to her, but ends his work with hope that she will find a more fulfilling life.
The plot of the play is the story of her character arc as she grows from a woman deeply dependent on her husband to a woman who breaks those bonds to become responsible for her own life. As the play opens, Nora appears to be comfortable and happy in her life married to Torvald Helmer. She displays a desire to please her husband because of her affection for him. When her husband first appears in the play, he displays a similar image of a happily married man who dotes on his wife. Through the action of the play, these false pretences disappear as evidence is presented that neither had much respect for the other and the picture of a happily married couple was deceiving.
As the play opens, Nora enters her comfortable home with presents and a tree for the Christmas season. She is humming and cheerful. Her husband Torvald calls to her with affectionate words offstage from another room. "Is that my little lark twittering out there? Is it my little squirrel bustling about?" (Ibsen Act I). There is an undercurrent to this scene of happiness and the first clues of the constrictions and patriarchal nature of this society are evident from subsequent action and words of the characters. When Nora asks her husband to come out he tells her that he does not want to be disturbed. Nora tells her husband that she wants to show him the things that she purchased. He emerges from the offstage room from which he spoke his first words of affection and his terms of endearment vanish to words hinting his disapproval at the actions of his wife and of his patriarchal attitude toward her. "Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?" (Ibsen Act I).
The tensions surface in these words and in the rest of this conversation. There is also evidence that Torvald wants to control all of the actions of his wife. In this opening scene, Nora hides her macaroon and Torvald questions her about eating such sweets. He asks her the following in a patronizing manner. "Not even taken a bite at a macaroon or two?"(Ibsen Act I). She lies to her husband rather than admit to him that she had indulged in eating sweets. In the end, she reassures her husband that her actions are governed by his wishes in the following line. "I should not think of going against your wishes" (Ibsen Act I).