”A Doll House” by Henric Ibsen
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Controversial of its time, “A Doll House” presented on stage a subject that was not socially accepted, was shunned, and not publically discussed. This dramatization of real life was portrayed by Ibsen in such an artistic manner, that not only was it accepted by the era, but brought with it notoriety, and was proclaimed a masterpiece. As I began to read Ibsen’s “A Doll House,” my first reaction was that Ibsen was a writer quite before his time. When he wrote this play, the norm for marriage was that men were head of household and women were supposed to perform the daily duties of maintaining a well-run household, raise the children and literally, “be seen but not heard.” Ibsen, when he wrote this play, was addressing the manner in which women could not be themselves in modern society. Ibsen argued that since “it is an exclusively male society, with laws made by men and with prosecutors and judges who assess feminine conduct strictly from a male standpoint.” He brought his beliefs to light in the writing of this play.
“A Doll House” was severely criticized as controversial and sharply criticized of the 19th century marriage norms. My second reaction was that this play fell in line with our modern description of domestic violence and Nora, his leading lady, aptly represented many of today’s victims. Quite often in this scenario, the women/men have a low self-esteem and succumb to the husband’s/wife’s either physical or verbal abuse. They honestly believe that their mates love them despite their small worth and accept every crumb of kindness thrown to them believing it is love. Today, with counseling, both sexes realize their self-worth and leave the marriage or relationship to find themselves. Sadly, in Ibsen’s era, this service was unheard of and unavailable. I did not believe Ibsen employed the use of imagination in the writing of the play because when he wrote “A Doll House,” he based the play on the real life of Laura Kieler, a good friend of his.
“Much of what actually happened to Nora and Torvald in the play occurred between Laura and her husband Victor. In real life, Laura did not forge her father’s signature on loan papers; however, Victor found out Laura had a secret loan, divorced her, and had her committed to an asylum. Two years later, she returned to her husband and children at Victor’s urging, and went on to become a well-known Danish writer.” Ibsen wrote “A Doll House” when Laura was committed to the asylum, He felt really bad because Laura had asked for his intervention, and he did nothing. Instead, he turned this life situation into a very successful play. Kieler eventually rebounded from the shame of the scandal and had her own successful writing career while remaining discontent with sole recognition as “Ibsen’s Nora” years afterward.” I did believe that Ibsen employed foreshadowing in this play. First, by introducing Nora’s father, who was presumably dead but a focal point in the narration of the play, and second, the children.
They were quite often referred to in the play, but never had any dialogue. Ibsen also introduced symbolism with two references which were incorporated into the dialogue by Nora. “The Christmas Tree, all festive object meant to serve a decorative purpose, symbolizes Nora’s position in the household who is pleasant to look at and adds charm to her home.” New Year’s Day is the second reference. New Year’s Day always has represented a time for new resolutions. In the play, “Torvald is looking forward to his new job, the extra money he is going to bring in and the admiration the job will bring. Nora looks forward to Torvald’s new job because she feels, with the extra money; she will be able to pay off her loan.” After reading the play, finding the foreshadowing, the symbolism and what I believe lacked imagination, it was conducive to me, to look up Ibsen’s biography and attempt to determine what type of man he really was. “Henrik Ibsen was a 19th century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet.
He is often referred to as “the father of prose drama” and is a founder of Modernism in the theatre. Apart from Laura Kieler, my intent was to look into his life and research what else may have influenced his writings. Several of his plays were considered scandalous to many of his era. “Ibsen’s work examined the realities that lay behind many facades, revealing much that was disquieting to many contemporaries. It utilized a critical eye and free inquiry into the conditions of life and issues of morality.” When Ibsen was around seven, his father’s fortunes took a turn for the worse. He declared bankruptcy, became embittered, and turned into an alcoholic. “His father’s ruin had a strong influence on Ibsen’s later works; the characters in his plays often mirrored his parents, and his themes often deal with the issues of the financial difficulty as well as moral conflicts stemming from dark secrets hidden from society.”
Ibsen would both model and name characters in his play after his own family. A central theme in Ibsen’s plays is the “unremitting portrayals of suffering women,” echoing his mother. “Ibsen’s sympathy with women came from his understanding of their powerlessness.” In 1858, he married Suzannah Thoreson and they had an only child in 1859. According to his biography, they lived in very poor financial circumstances. Ibsen became very disenchanted with his life, left Norway, and went to Italy in self-imposed exile. He didn’t return to his homeland for 27 years. In retrospect, nothing is mentioned about his wife or child traveling with him, or his or her whereabouts. It could be argued that ironically Ibsen himself a champion of marriage and women’s powerlessness abandoned his family in pursuit of his writing career.
“A Doll House”Henric Ibsen(1879)
http://en.wikipedia.org/siki/A Doll%27s_House 4/10/12