A Dollhouse is a play written by Henrik Isben which tells the story of Nora’s decision to leave her current life; husband, Torvald Helmer; and children. I believe Isben’s main idea is to bring awareness to the mistreatment of women during that time. A time when it is unheard of for a woman to borrow money from the bank. However, Nora did just that; she borrowed money to pay for a trip to Italy where her husband’s life would be saved. “Papa didn’t give us a shilling. It was I who procured the money.” (Act 1, line 179). A time so tough on women that saving the life of your own husband is not reason enough for being the provider. Nora deceived her husband by letting him think the money was a gift from her father; otherwise, “how painful and humiliating it would be for Torvald with his manly independence, to know that he owed me anything.” (Act 1, line 201). Isben writes this dramatic play, A Dollhouse, with detailed characters, ironic comedy, and realistic problems as supporting literary devices.
Even though this play takes place during a time when men and women are not seen as equals, Nora is the protagonist of the play. At times, Nora can seem quite childish in her talk and behavior, asking for money and hiding macaroons from Torvald. Likewise, Torvald speaks to Nora as if she is a child. So, who is to blame? Does Nora act like a child because Torvald treats her like so? Or, does Torvald treat Nora like a child because she is immature? We already know that Nora was responsible enough to seek out a loan without help from the man in the house. That alone says Nora is more independent than she portrays at times. Again, given the time, Torvald most certainly sees himself as a higher being than ...
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...the development of the realistic problem play because he is driven by “the idea that a forward and creative drama could bring about deeper and more permanent changes than could be effected by soldiers and politicians.” (p. 1755). Student Learning Outcome #1: Recognize literature as a record of human experience. A time when man dominating woman is normalized by society; Isben pointed out the problem to the world through Nora.
In summary, Henrik Isben was looking to make an impact on human nature. Through the characters in this play, Isben tells a story that people can relate to. The comedic irony ensures the readers, viewers, and listeners will be engaged and entertained. Lastly, A Dollhouse is a realistic problem play that takes the audience’s relation to the problem one step further; perhaps, they are starting to think they too can make a difference in society.
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