A Doll’s House, a play by Henrik Ibsen, tells the story of Nora, the wife of Torvald Helmer, who is an adult living as a child, kept as a doll by her husband. She is expected to be content and happy living in the world Torvald has created for her. By studying the play and comparing and contrasting the versions presented in the video and the live performance, one can analyze the different aspects of it.
Ibsen’s purpose for writing this piece is to entertain while pointing out an injustice. Through the events of the play, Nora becomes increasingly aware of the confines in which Torvald has placed her. He has made her a doll in her own house, one that is expected to keep happy and busy as a songbird, who acts and does as he deems proper. As a result of this, she is often pointed out to be very simple by the other characters. Her friend Christina calls her “a mere child,” showing how naïve she appears to be to the hardships in life. To prove to her friend that she really has achieved something on her own to be proud of, Nora tells Christina of her secret borrowing of money for the trip to Italy that saved Torvald’s life. Everyone believed that Nora had gotten the money from her father, while actually she found someone to borrow the money from and had been paying her debt back. She did so by spending frugally and always saving some of the money Torvald had given her and by doing odd jobs. She explained to Christine,
When Torvald gave me money for clothes and so on, I never spent more than half of it; I always bought the simplest things…and besides that, I made money in other ways. Last winter…I got a heap of copying to do. I shut myself up every evening and wrote far into the night…[I]t was splendid to work in that way and earn money. I almost felt as if I was a man.
Later, while discussing his illness with her, Dr. Rank actually comments that Nora is “deeper than…[he] thought.” He too looked at her as like a child. The climax of the story comes when Torvald learns of Nora’s forgery and yells angrily at her. He then finds the promissory note, returned by Krogstad, and realizes that no one has anything over his head any longer. During this episode, Nora realizes what has been going on: that she has become Torvald’s “doll” which plays around his “doll” house. She points out to him:
You have never under...
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...le “lark.” She spends her days shopping and playing with the children. Also, the characters, locales, and scenes are limited. The characters in this play number only eleven: Nora, Torvald, the three Helmer children, Dr. Rank, Christina, Anna, Krogstad, Ellen, and a porter. The live stage production did not even include the children, as they were not essential to the action of the play. There was but one set in the stage production, and few more in the video, and the play has only three acts. Finally, the construction is tight. There are few, if any, loose ends at the conclusion of the play. Nora reveals her true feelings to Torvald in an exciting scene, Christina deals with unresolved situations with Krogstad, and Dr. Rank tells the Helmers good-bye. These all neatly tie together the previous conflicts.
It is interesting to see how these elements---purpose, point of view, genre, style, motivation, and structure---make up the underlying pieces of the play. Without them, the play becomes little more than a pointless story with which the audience cannot identify. Even with these common pieces, different versions show us different twists on the same play.
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