Tag Archives: A Dolls House

Ibsen’s use of structure to present themes in “A Doll’s House”

17 Sep

Text structure is the way the author organizes the thoughts and ideas in the book. In Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House”, he has used a type of structure, which does not straightly tell the reader about the future actions and plot. Usually what happens – is that in a plot there is an exposition, climax and a resolution. What happens in the resolution, is that the story leads the readers to the solution of the conflict, resulting in a happy end of the characters.

Ibsen does not follow a conventional structure of the plot in his play, because what happens in his play – is that there is no “happy end” that is presented in all other stories. George Bernard Shaw – an author and a socialist has stated that Nora’s final exist is not a resolution, but as he said, it was a “discussion”. This play is extraordinary, because there’s no structure, that is usual to people, there is an exposition, situation and in the end, there is a “discussion”, not a resolution.  The more the play continues, the more the problem continues; it is not being solved just like in other plots.

This is the idea of a “Natural” play, which leaves us with questions sometimes and sometimes gives us the answer, however, usually portrays real character and their acts are shown as the ones, which we would have seen in real life in this situation.

This discussion of Ibsen’s play leaves us without a conclusion and with different opinions about her act, because the readers are left with questions “Why?” and “What for?”.  Yes, in some ways it is possible to agree with her acts, depending on the aspect we’re looking at this situation from, however what primarily comes to our minds is “What about her children?”. In the first acts, she has been portrayed as a great mother to their children; in the end, Ibsen shows us a completely opposite character of Nora. He shows us her femininity and that strong character of hers, where as in the start no one understood, how a serious man like Torvald could marry a silly, immature girl. Torvald acts with her, as if she is very young and it showed us their “true love”. The discussion shows us how “true” their love is. It’s doubtful, that Nora married him for money, because a strong woman like her did so much for him, that it couldn’t have been just for money, where as Torvald has put his respect in the society above his family. This theme has been discussed a lot in the discussion, linked with many others, which have been seen throughout the play, however didn’t stand out as much as in the discussion. Everything is around the expectations of the society of their family and especially Torvald and his acts. This is the reason, why Torvald did not stand up for Nora in her hardest times, and said, that it was her problem, that she is responsible for, not him. He was too worried for his respect at work and within his workers and friends, he felt this act would demonstrate his masculinity, which he has lost throughout the play, just as he lost respect to the readers as well.



Ibsen’s use of structure to present themes in “A Doll’s House”

16 Sep

In A Doll’s House, Ibsen does not follow the conventional plot structure of story/play. Normally a story/play has an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and then resolution. The conflict has been solved and everybody lives happily ever after in the end. Instead, Ibsen uses a three act play, which splits up into an “exposition/rising action” in the first act, a “situation” in the second act, and then a “discussion” in the third act, as suggested by George Bernard Shaw, an essayist who analyzed the play.

In the “discussion”, Nora exits the play, leaving Torvald and the life she had behind. This certainty isn’t your regular resolution, as things are still out of balance and left hanging out there (i.e. there isn’t a “Happily Ever After”). The audience is left questioning why she did this and “Was it the right thing to do?”. The answer that they come up with is open to difference in perspective. They then begin relating these questions to the theme representing it: “Femininity is derived from upholding society’s expectations”. Well, in the contemporary society at the time of the play’s introduction, women were expected to stay with and love their husbands and children, and not leave them just because of the pursuit of self-actualisation. The fact that Nora left her life to pursue self-actualisation certainly raised some eyebrows among audience members, and more questions like those above begin to arise. Audience members then begin thinking about the other thematic ideas (and the questions they come with)  that are present throughout the play, but become most noticeable in the “discussion”. For example, “Marriage does not necessarily mean true love” and “Money brings out the true nature in people” are two recurring themes throughout the play, but become explicit in the “discussion” as well, so audience members begin thinking about these.

To emphasize the above idea that themes, which appear throughout the play, become more distinguished/explicit in the “discussion” of the play, an example will be used. In the “discussion”, we see that Ms. Linde and Krogstad want to have a relationship, not because they love each other but instead because they need each other. The audience begins thinking, “Hang on. How can you have a relationship like that and not have love at the foundation?” They then begin questioning about the thematic idea that  “Marriage does not necessarily mean true love”. In the case of Krogstad and Ms. Linde, they realize that no, a marriage relationship does not need to be built off of true love. Also, in the case of Torvald and Nora, we see that there relationship was built off of blind love, as they only thought they loved each other, and they stayed together because society expected them to.

As stated above, once one theme is being discussed, subsequently all other themes that appear in the play, but become most prominent in the “discussion”, become of concern to the audience and they begin discussing these as well. For example, another theme that the play features is “Masculinity is derived from upholding society’s expectations”. The audience can see this theme throughout the play, but it becomes of special concern when Torvald reads Krogstad’s blackmail letter, and does not keep his head high, as Nora hoped. Instead, he immediately worries about his reputation at the bank and among his friends, as he now feels trapped in Krogstad’s claws. The audience can see that Torvald cares most about his reputation in society; more than he cares about his wife or anything else. It can then be deduced that reputation and respect define the how much of a man someone is in this society that the play is set in. This idea can also be seen in Krogstad. Since he “slipped up” and lost his reputation and the respect of many of his peers, he feels he has lost what makes him a man. Men at the contemporary time of the play’s debut are expected to be respected and hold a positive reputation among other members of society.

Other themes include “The home is a place of comfort, deceit, and truth” and “ Respect and reputation are the main priorities in a man’s life”.

Naturalism is a technique used by authors/playwrights. and features in “A Doll’s House”. Essentially, the characters and setting and every other aspect in the play must be as real as possible, if not more. There should seemingly be no script, and the story should basically be like looking through a microscope looking at real people acting in the natural ways they do.

Positive and Negative Characteristics of Nora

3 Sep

One of the main characters of the three-act play “A Doll’s House” is Nora.  This character is one of the most complicated characters in the play. She starts of with childish qualities, which demonstrate us the audience, her immature side. The first act starts of with her buying Christmas gift, sneaking some macaroons, wanting to get more pennies at all times. With her husband, she acts as a child, being very playful and reveals us the ability to easily lie to her husband.

In the first act, she was shown to us as a spender of money, leaving the family with nothing, because of her desires. We thought of her as a foolish young girl, who has been married to Torvald, due to his financial state. Though, it was hard to predict and believe that she has a clever side, we actually find that out during her conversation with Mrs. Linde, where she tells her that every time she has been asking money from Torvald, she has been saving them in order to pay a debt. This also demonstrated us, how easily she could lie to Torvald, that their trip to Italy has been paid by her father; however, it also demonstrates us the courage in her character and the true love and loyalty she has towards her husband.  This is the woman who takes risks and is ready for any sacrifices for her family.

As the play progresses, Nora more and more reveals her true character, which demonstrates the audience that she is hot just “a silly girl”. She is the woman, who not only understands the importance of the family, but as well can be a help to Torvald in his business and when needed with help.

An ambitious, courageous woman, who has been capable of breaking the law in order to save Torvald and prevent him from any health issues.  She has faked the signature of her father, and now that Krogstad is blackmailing Nora of the falsification, she is being the one accused of spoiling the name of her own husband, which brings a huge scandal into the house. Even though Nora has brought disgrace and dishonor into the family, she is doing everything for Torvald, where as he is planning on sacrificing himself to prevents his wife from persecution.

With all the scandals going on, Nora is planning to end her life, because she no longer wants to disgrace her family. Torvald stops her, and she for sure wanted to be safe. And even though these two people would sacrifice anything for each other, there are completely different. Nora tried everything in order to keep Torvald safe, which shows the valiant character in this woman, who is not deterred by the pain or the danger waiting for her, just across the road. Torvald, in contrast to his wife, realizes, that his job and his state in the society means a lot to him and therefore does not want to take the blame for Nora’s crime.

Nora – a powerful woman, who has just pretended to be foolish and child-like, in order to hide all her fears and her problems and keep them away from Torvald. As a sign of her strong character, in the end of act 3, even though she- without any care leaves her children alone, thinking only about her pride. Nora leaves Torvald, slamming the door and ending their relationship.

There are both positive and negative aspects of Nora’s character, which is what all of us have. She is a strong woman, being portrayed as a foolish young girl. Her family is very important for her, but in the end, she loses her temper and she just stops caring. 

Characters in A Doll’s House: Positives and Negatives

3 Sep

Nora, one of the key characters in the play, A Doll’s House, is continuously portrayed differently throughout the plot. In some scenes she is portrayed in positive manner, with a good-nature and high morals, while in others she is portrayed negatively, by her acting childish and naive and when she doesn’t consider the consequences of her actions. And still, there are certain points in the plot where she is portrayed as in-between positive and negative, such as when she initially does something negative for the greater good.

Throughout the storyline, Nora is sometimes portrayed in a positive way. An example of this is when she is shown trying to be a good mother. When her children come inside from sledging one evening, she is instantly enthusiastic about hearing about their adventures. After this, she suggests that they play a game of hide-and-seek, which is shortly interrupted by Mr. Krogstad. It can be easily be seen that Nora is also caring towards her children, as well as protective and reassuring. When Mr. Krogstad requests to talk to Nora alone, she asks the children to go into the other room with the maid Anne-Marie. The children are initially frightened and ask their mother whether the man will harm her or not. She immediately reassures them by saying no and tells them that they will play another game once she has finished her business with Mr. Krogstad.

Another positive trait we see in Nora is that she has a considerate, kind, and caring nature. Along with seeing this trait come out in her when she is around her children, it can also be seen when she wants to grant Ms. Linde her favour. She wanted Nora to see if Torvald would be able to employ her at the bank, and Nora, without hesitation, said “Leave it to me. I’ll see to it. I’ll find a way. Put him in a good mood. I’d love to help you,” (19). The first chance she got, she brought up the matter to Torvald, and he was interested.

Towards the end of the play, we see Nora transform from a childish, naive character into a mature woman who has unclasped herself from the control of the society that she lives in. She realizes that she no longer wants to be influenced by the social and economic pressures around her, and wants to discover her full potential as someone on her own (she wants to commit to self-actualization). Her own father treated her like a dolly, and when she married Torvald, he treated her exactly the same. This sort of relationship between father and daughter, and between husband and wife, was accepted during the play’s setting. When Nora was a young girl, she said that she viewed everything the way her father did, and if she didn’t, she didn’t dare say anything as it would upset her father. She was “controlled” by him, in the way a child controls the life of their dolls. Torvald resumed this relationship with Nora when they married, as she said that everything was organised to suit to his tastes and preferences. This is the same idea as a child would decorate their doll house to their likening and dress their dolls the way they preferred. After Torvald turns out not to be the man Nora thought he was, after he initially succumbed to thought that Krogstad would be able to control him (due to the debt to him and the false signature), she began to realize this type of relationship they had, how she was “controlled” by him. In order to fix everything, she decided she must leave her family and begin her process of self-actualization.

Nora is also portrayed in a negative manner as well throughout the plot. A primary example of this is that Nora is somewhat extravagant and is keen on spending money. In the beginning of the play we see that Nora has bought, all in one day, Christmas presents for the children, macaroons for herself, and is next trying to get Torvald to spend a little more this year, instead of saving, saving, saving. A good example of this is, “Can’t we just burn a little? A tiny little? Now you’re getting such a big pay-packet, pennies and pennies and pennies,” (10).

A second negative trait we see in Nora is the fact that she is naive and slightly spoiled. She also seems to not really care about serious matters in the beginning of the novel, and is short-sighted. An example of this is when she tells Torvald that they should just borrow money until the New Year, instead of saving. Torvald comes up with the worst-case scenario if they did borrow, which was him dying in a freak accident before the New Year, and Nora being stuck to pay off the debt. Nora says that she does no care if she still owed people money, and doesn’t care about the people who she would owe money too.

Another negative trait we see in Nora is that she is childish and immature. This occurs mainly when she is talking about money, but also we see this in her due to her sweet-tooth for macaroons. At one point in the first act, Nora sulks because she has no money to spend, and Torvald is reluctant to give her any. Despite this, Torvald gives in and provides her with some pennies to spend. Nora is ecstatic to receive the forty pennies, as if she were a young girl again. The macaroons appear infrequently throughout the opening act, where we see Nora hide them from Torvald, and where she offers them to Dr. Rank and Ms. Linde. Torvald has put a ban on sweets in the house (where Nora is the biggest offender), as if Nora is a child and cannot control her habits.

Nora is also notorious for not censoring what she says, especially when speaking to Ms. Linde. She basically blurts out anything, without considering the consequences of her actions. When speaking to Ms. Linde, she has no hesitation in telling her that she borrowed the money in order to pay for the vacation, instead of inheriting the funds from her father. Her not considering the consequences of her actions is another major negative attribute, as it has gotten her into a lot of trouble with Mr. Krogstad and Torvald towards the end.

Several in-between traits also appear in Nora, such as that she did certain negative actions for the greater good that they came with. A major example of this is when Nora lied to Torvald about where the funds for the vacation came from, in order to save his life (via the vacation). The lie was a negative action, which later came with consequences, but she did not think about these at the time. She was instead thinking of Torvald and how this vacation would make him better through some R and R. Another trait she has, which falls into the “caring and considerate” category, is that she was willing to grant a favour, even if it was impossible to meet. Nora did not know if she could talk Torvald into giving Mr. Linde a job at the bank, but assured her anyways that she would be able to.

Henrik Ibsen: Themes and Ideas

24 May

Known as the “Father of Drama” (“Henrik Ibsen.” Moonstruck Drama Bookstore), playwright Henrik Ibsen has produced many plays, which as a whole represent the evolution of drama. Ibsen’s writing life can be broken down into different periods. In his early days of writing, his plays were more open and romanticized. Initially, his plays were even tinged with a bit of depression, of which can be seen in the plays A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler. This is because Ibsen had endured a “dark” phase, going through depression and even thoughts of suicide. His work then started to become more comical and favorable by audiences. He especially applied mysticism to a lot of his works and his characters were often rebels, as can be seen in Brand and Peer Grynt.

Ibsen then started to adapt his themes, concentrating them more on Man vs. Society. At this point, he had left romanticism aside and started focusing on the political and social problems of society. His works started depicting more elements of realism, and he became known as a naturalistic, even political playwright. He gave the medium of drama substance, dragging it out of its superficial entertainment purposes, and his own opinions of society leaked into his work. Ibsen applied what was called the “principle of uncertainty”, in which dramatic monologues, and consequently, characters’ thoughts were less exposed, thrusting the audience upon their feet and forcing them to develop their own interpretations.

By this time, his work had begun receiving a lot of criticism and controversy, for he was revealing aspects of society that were not meant to be revealed. During a period of time that he called the “Golden Age”, he had reached the peak of his societal influence. During this time, he produced plays such as A Doll’s House, Ghosts and Hedda Gabler. A Doll’s House had a feministic focus and criticized gender roles in Victorian marriages. Other themes include women’s suffrage, religious intolerance (responded to by Oeuvre), class struggle and stereotypes. Ibsen’s characters were faced with self-realization and portrayed the clash between the individual and societal pressures.

Ibsen had repeatedly changed and experimented with different ideas in plays. His application of realism was even adopted by others, such as Chekhov. He had completely changed the structure of dramatic techniques, paving the way for modern drama.
“Henrik Ibsen.” Imagi-nation.com. Web. 20 May 2011. <http://www.imagi-nation.com/moonstruck/clsc5.htm&gt;.

“Henrik Ibsen.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2010): 1. MAS Ultra – School Edition. EBSCO. Web. 24 May 2011.

Esslin, Martin. “Ibsen and Modern Drama.” DISCovering Authors. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Gale Student Resources In Context. Web. 24 May 2011.