Dolls House: Themes And Theatrics

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Ever since "A Doll House" first came to the stage in the 1880's, critics have argued vehemently about the Ibsen's intentions while writing the play, and the ambivalence over the play confused not only the plays but also the audience: while some patrons praised the play, others stormed the stages in protest of Nora's abandonment of her family. The difference of opinion ranged so far as to incite patron who, after reading reviews of the play that objected to the dialogue in the play, did not hear objectionable dialogues to accuse directors of censorship while in fact "not a word has been cut" and "the text they found so innocent contained every one of the enormities denounced by the critics" (Archer 20). Aware of the accusations that might be pointed at him, Ibsen, referred to by some as "enemy of the people," masterfully crafted this short work containing the dramatic development of the heroine Nora along several themes in the process of stirring up overwhelming amount of controversy
One of the first themes in the play is the contrast between surface appearances and reality. From the beginning, Nora possesses every characteristic of an obedient gentlewoman and a submissive wife, but the audience knows that this picture is simply mistaken: for instance, Nora, Torvald's cute "little squirrel," disobeys Torvald by eating macaroons behind his back. It is interesting to note that to squirrel something means to hide or store something away in a way quite similar to how Nora slips her macaroon bag in her pocket; Ibsen uses the word "squirrel" to signify the Nora who is cute and childish but at the same time points out her tendency to hide things from Torvald. In moving Nora in a stealthy fashion to eavesdrop on her husband's door, the playwrights further accentuates the parallelism between Nora's actions and the actions of a squirrel, but surely the last thing someone would think to compare a model housewife to would be a playful and secretive squirrel!
Further disclosure of "squirreling" around by Nora arises when Nora informs Mrs. Linde about the true identity of the signer of the loan taken out for the purpose of funding the vacation to Italy Nora and Torvald took to improve Torvald's failing health at the time. Before Nora opens up to Mrs. Linde, everyone believ...

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...e power of the written text, the playwright utilizes the characters of the childish yet ready to mature Nora and the protective and appearance-conscious Torvald along with the different aspects of theatre such as the well-decorated drawing room set indicating the importance of money and wealth in the play and movements of the character such as the light and easy way Nora prances about and the fashion Torvald watches and follows Nora like a hawk carefully watches his eyas to ascertain that no danger comes to his young ones. In doing so, a masterfully written play and an even more artistically glamorous performance on the stage remain intriguing to readers and theatre-goers even after the curtains are drawn.
Archer, William. "Ibsen and English Criticism." William Archer on Ibsen. Ed. Thomas
Postlewait. (London: Greenwood, 1984).

Bryan, George B. An Ibsen Companion: A Dictionary-Guide to the Life, works and
Critical Reception of Henrik Ibsen. (London: Greenwood, 1984).

Ibsen, Henrik. "A Doll House." The Harcourt Brace Anthology of Drama. Ed. W. B.
Worthen. (London: Harcourt Brace, 2000).
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