Unraveling Structure

Typically, a story features an exposition, reaches some sort of climax which is finally resolved with the ‘good guy’ on top. This resolution commonly achieves some sort of moral equilibrium whereby the audience is alerted to the fanciful dangers of ‘getting up to no good’.

Task: Investigate a common story. Does this description of plot work?

Ibsen’s work deviates from this structure. Through the review questions we realise that the climax of the play occurs quite early on, at the end of the second act. This leaves a lengthy act three to discuss the issues addressed in the first two acts of the play. Ibsen’s third act is commonly referred to as a discussion.

This leads us back to our original topics and hence a discussion on theme.

Task: What are the issues (themes) Ibsen discusses?

Remember: themes should be active. “Women” is not a theme; it’s a topic. “The subjugation of women in society” is a better choice as directs the reader to “the action”.

Task: Read Bernard Shaw’s analysis of the structure in Ibsen’s play.

Task: Discuss Ibsen’s use of structure to present themes in “A Doll’s House”. You discussion should include:

  • Your understanding of naturalism/realism
  • Reference to Bernard Shaw’s opinions on the play.

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