Henrik Isben's A Doll's House


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A Doll’s House

Henrik Ibsen was born in 1828 on the coast of Norway into a middle
class family. When he was 6 years of age, due to financial loss, his
family were forced to move to a smaller house in the country and his
education was disruppted. Ibsen had to work as an apprentice and study
in the evening this alienated him from his family and he was never to
reunite with them. In 1849 his first play was published and was a
disaster. Ibsen altered his style of writing to accommodate the trend
of the era which was romanticism. His second play the “The Warrior’s
Borrow” was a success. Ibsen then acquired a job as “Dramatic Author”
at the Norwegian Theatre which included all parts of the theatre
production directing, designing sets and costumes as well as financial
and business aspects. At this point in time, Ibsen was successful as
light comedy, romanticism and melodrama were the main subjects he
wrote about. By 1860 he was disillusioned with those and wanted to
deal with real issues about everyday life in society, which his middle
class audience could relate to. Being a socialist, Ibsen’s realistic
for of writing made his audiences think and even examine their own
life’s this made his realistic plays extremely successful with the
public but the critics thought other wise. In 1877 “The Pillars of
Society” was his naturalistic play but still contained a happy ending.
Then only two years later “A Doll’s House” had a totally different
ending which embraced women’s rights and was revolutionary causing a
stir throughout Europe. Most of Ibsen’s realistic plays were based on
events that had happened in his own life.

The style at the time was Romanticism and melodrama this genre of
theatre was known as “The Well Made Play”. The plays in this era
consisted of your typical goodies vs. baddies battles which resulted
in the goodies winning nearly all the time. A high percentage of the
time these types of plays ended up with every thing falling into place
nicely for instance, the man gets the women, the goodies win the
battle and everyone lives “happily ever after”. As I stated earlier on
Ibsen wanted to move away from this style and on to a different on.

Ibsen helped develop a new genre of theatre along with Shaw called
Naturalistic. This type of drama was classed as “The new theatre”
which dealt with real life situations, morals and social issues. Some
critics found this style of drama scandalous which dented its
popularity in the early stages. The first play to generate positive
remarks from the critics was Ibsen’s play “A Dolls House”.

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This play
put the dilemmas of a women striving for her own freedom and rights.
This genre of play shocked the audience because it was so different
from the norm (The well made play). The play “A Doll’s House” had a
different structure to the well made play. It did not conclude with
everything ending up all peachy, because Nora leaves Torvald with the
sound of her slamming the front door out onto the street.

In the 1870’s the argument against women voting was dwindling. Taking
care of a husband, children and a home was still important but women
wanted to be able to make decisions and not feel inferior to men. When
Ibsen wrote “A Doll’s House” the suffragette movement was an issue of
that era and his main character, a house wife, Nora want to express
her independence by borrowing money without her husbands consent even
although it was for her husbands benefit. At the end of the play,
which was a drastic measure for that time; Nora leaves her home
husband and children. Laura Kieller was a friend of Ibsen’s who had
borrowed money because he husband was ill. Unfortunately when the
forgery was discovered; her husband demanded a divorced and her
children were taken away. The strain on her nerves leads her to a
nervous breakdown and hospitalization in a mental institute. Ibsen
knew about all this while he was writing “A Doll’s House”.

In “A Doll’s House”, the Helmers appear to be quite affluent. They
have a nice home, servants and are a happy and friendly family. They
are excited about Christmas but more so about Torvald’s promotion, at
the bank, as this will make them more acceptable in society. Nora’s
laps in moral standards by borrowing money and forging he fathers
signature was done for a very good reason but it is pushed to the side
with a feeling of “out of sight out of mind”. However it is really the
main issue of the play. When eventually the issue comes out in the
open, Nora’s initial reaction is to run away and commit suicide, while
Torvald thinks about the disgrace and resigning his position at the
bank. There is no communication or understanding between husband and
wife which was typical for that period.

The hereditary aspect is intertwined into the play through Dr. Rank
and Nora. Dr. Rank inherited his spinal tuberculosis from his father
because of the way he led his life. Nora’s father was renowned for his
ability to spend a lot of money which she seems to have inherited.


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