A Doll's House Analysis
A Doll's House Analysis
A Doll's House Analysis: Introduction and Background
Henrik Ibsen is seen as the pioneer of modern theater and his A Doll's House (1879) is one of the best prose plays ever (Ibsen 7). A Doll's House criticizes an individual's social modernization process through economic and political progress. Still, spiritually, individuals do not progress with these concepts. They experience conflicts with social institutions such as family, religion, and community. Besides, A Doll's House examines capitalist order and patriarchal family issues. Moreover, A Doll's House is Ibsen's first modernist play because Nora's contumacy criticizes idealistic aesthetics and morality. That is, Nora's contumacy is an example of women's freedom to individualize. A Doll's House examines women in their journey of freedom by individualization in an absurd anarchist way. Henrik Ibsen examines A Doll House's general problems, such as woman and interiority/subjectivity, and feminist and existential approach to these problems. Also, Ibsen aims to criticize family institutions. He sees the family institution as a restricted place where individuals cannot be themselves. Individuals are bond with family institutions and they are stuck in family institution's rules, and these rules do not allow them to become completely free. Therefore, these rules force individuals to behave what is expected, and they feel fear about their actions to become themselves. In other words, Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House shows that institutions like family use fear, which is the main structure of it; if fear reveals itself in the family, the family will collapse. This paper focuses on two different plays about A Doll House and portraits of Nora's identity in this play.
Two different A Doll's House plays are the base of this paper and they are shot on different dates. One shot in 2015 at Center Play and Et Dukkehjem shot the other one in Norway in 1973. Both plays describe Nora as a happy wife and mother at the beginning of the plays. Nora seems carefree as long as she obeys her husband's rules. Also, her husband interferes with every moment of Nora's life, and he decides for her. However, she is not paying attention to this issue because her father treated Nora in the same way that her husband behaves. She likes everything that her husband likes. She looks happy because her husband is promoted to Bank manager, and they will have a lot of money in the future. However, Nora loses her happiness due to her life issues. For instance, she borrows money for her husband's health. According to the plays, her husband becomes very ill, and they need to go to Italy for his treatment. However, they do not have enough money for their trip.
Therefore, Nora borrows the money and tells a lie to her husband. She commits a crime by faking her father's signature for the money she borrows. In act one, Nora is both happy and proud of her actions. Also, the audience begins to see other emotions that Nora reflects in scene one. She sorrows and suffers from the money that she has to pay back. She has her ways to raise money, but to do so, she has to sleep less and work more.
Act one is essential for both plays because the audience meets Nora and other characters. In Central play, Nora seems more cheerful than in the other play. Besides, Torvald is more cheerful and more stingy than other plays. Also, Nora seems to like money in both plays. However, Central play is more superficial to portrait characters detailed, and issues are presented to the audience as funny problems. For example, in Central play, Nora's talk and actions are seen as childish. The actress who played Nora seems to imagine Nora's identity as a naive woman. However, in the other play, the audience gets uncomfortable when Tovard calls Nora a child because she is a grown woman. In the central play, Nora's talk with her friend Kristine is superficial, and she is not embracing the problems that the character has in her life. She mentions her debt as a funny issue. In addition, she says that she is free from care, and she will keep the house just like her husband wants according to his tastes. In this sense, in the other play, Nora merely says the same words. Still, the audience feels the sorrows hidden under those words because the actress who played Nora understands the difficulties of making someone else’s wishes and likes the things he likes.
Another difference between the central and Norway play is that Nora plays with her children in Central. Still, in Norway, the audience does not see Nora's children. In the central, Nora tells Kristie that she will convince Torvald to find Kristie a job with her praise words. However, Norway's play does not include these words. The dialogues are essential to portrait Nora's character. The Central play uses reckless dialogues, which affects the audience's perspective of Nora.
In Norway's play, Nora stands strong against Mr. Krogstad. She protects both her husband and herself against his threat. However, in Central play, Nora seems fragile against Mr. Krogstad. Also, characters are more reckless in the Central. They seem to misunderstand their roles. In other words, the audience should see Nora's transformation through the Act One to the Act Three because she becomes an independent woman who is brave enough to leave her own house. The Central play seems to lack emotions about the story. However, Nora's portrait is evident in the Norway play because she is forced to hide the reality due to her family and social rules, and she restrains herself by these institutions. She is the absurd character in the play. She acts concordant to others. Therefore, she becomes lonely in her family and society. In this sense, Nora realizes that her and society's truth are not the same. This is her transformation; in Act One, she realizes her problems in life.
Both plays in Act Two start with Nora's mama coming into the living room. In this scene, Nora asks her mama about her children. However, in Central play, Nora keeps smiling, and she is thinking about leaving her children. Nora's attitude is not suitable for the scene in Central Play. Also, she treats her friend Kristie with a snippy attitude. In Central play, Nora and Kristie are not behaving right. In other words, they should behave more cold-blooded. They seem too excited. Moreover, another difference between these two plays is that Nora in the Central play sees Kristie's help as a big favor. However, in Norway's play, Nora is more cold-blooded to face problems; when Kristie offers to go to Mr. Krogstad, she goes right away because she knows that Kristie should visit him.
The Central play reflects the funny sides of the theater. Therefore, Nora asks her husband to give Mr. Krogstad's position back; Torvald seems less serious than Norway's play. He hits his legs while he speaks as he gets so excited, just like Nora, and he ignores her wish; he sends a letter to Mr.Krogstad. In this scene, Nora runs after the maid and yells at her to come back. This is a funny perspective; Nora seems helpless in Central play. However, in Norway's play, Togvard is much more serious, and Nora does not run after maids. Both Nora and Torvald reflect their roles entirely in Norway's play.
Another difference is Dr. Rank's dialogue with Nora in Act Two. The difference between the two plays is that Dr. Rank is afraid of replacing himself with Kristie in Central play. However, Norway's play reflects the dying man's last wishes to express his love. He comes to the scene to explain his condition to Nora. The audience is overwhelmed with Dr.Rank's emotions and condition. Eventually, Dr. Rank, in Central play, seems that lack emotion and empathy, and Nora's behaviors toward Dr. Rank are sassy. The Central play reflects Nora as a sassy person, and she seems to think about only dance and looking pretty. However, there are deeper problems in Nora's position. In other words, Central play does not give the audience the primary goal of the play.
After Nora's talk with Dr. Rank, she receives a letter, and she gets nervous in both plays because Mr. Krogstan came to visit her. However, in Norway's play, Mr. Krogstan tells his aims about managing the bank as the right hand of Torvald; his words are clear and understandable. The audience understands his motives to treat Nora because he lost his reputation in society. He is an understandable character in Norway's play. The audience sees the transformation of the character in Norway's play. Mr. Krogstad regrets his actions in Norway's play. However, Central play portrays Mr. Krogstad as a heartless man.
Eventually, in the Act 3, characters transform into their true self. Mr. Kogstad regrets his actions, and Kristie asks Mr. Krogsad to marry her; Dr. Rank waits to die, and Togvard learns Nora's secret. This scene is essential to see both Nora's and Togvard's real thoughts. There are differences in this scene in both plays. The first difference is that dialogs are not too similar, and the second difference is reactions; they are different in both plays.
Eventually, in the Act Three, characters transform into their true self. Mr. Kogstad regrets his actions, and Kristie asks Mr. Krogsad to marry her; Dr. Rank waits to die, and Togvard learns Nora's secret. This scene is essential to see both Nora's and Togvard's real thoughts. There are differences in this scene in both plays. The first difference is that dialogs are not too similar, and the second difference is reactions; they are different in both plays.
In Central play, Nora tries to escape when Togvard reads the letter. He catches Nora and yells, "you miserable woman," and he lifts his hand. The audience thinks that Togvard is going to hit Nora. In this scene, the audience understands why he should be angry, but he becomes a violent man anyways. However, in Norway play, Nora is not trying to escape; on the contrary, she lets Togvard read his letters because Togvard says to Nora that "My darling wife, I cannot hold you close enough, I often wish that some danger might threaten you so I could risk everything for your sake" because of his words Nora smiles and says "Now, you must read the letters" (1973). This scene represents the transformation of both characters. After Togvard reads the letter, he becomes angrier than in the other play. That is, he throws letters to Nora's face, and he becomes even more violent.
However, he cries after his action. In the Central play, Torvald cries after Nora left. Togvard's transformation disappoints the audience because he is not a trustworthy man; one second ago, he says that he can risk everything for Nora. Moreover, after he learns Nora's secret, he does not modify his words to the situation. However, he changes his attitude after the second letter from Mr. Kogstad. He says that he has forgiven Nora in both plays.
Eventually, the audience experiences Nora's transformation after the second letter. In Norway Play, Nora seems more emotional and determined than the Central play. She cries so sincerely that the actress who plays Nora seems exceptionally devoted to empathizing with the character. She is ready for leaving her husband and children. In both plays, Nora asks Togvard to sit down and have a serious conversation with Nora. She begins her talk as a grown woman. That is, she mentions her problems in life.
In both plays, she says that she has never understood him until tonight because he disappoints Nora with his actions. She continues her words, "I've suffered from injustice first papa and then by you; when I lived at home, papa told me his opinions, and then I shared his opinions. If I did not, I kept quiet. He would not like it. He called me his little doll and played with me as I played with my dolls. Then I came to your house. I passed from papa's hand into yours; you arranged everything to suit your taste: and I had the same taste. Or I pretended so. Now it strikes me that I lived here as a pauper. I've lived by performing tricks for you. You wanted that way. You and papa have committed a great sin against me. It's your fault that I have done nothing of myself in life" (1973). This speech is an example of Nora's drastic transformation; she realizes her problems in life. She leaves her house to find and explore her true self. In other words, she wants to be a free woman. After all, Norway's play shows this transformation very clear to the audience, unlike the Central play.
A Doll's House Analysis Conclusion
To sum up, Nora's actions are brave. Nora dares to break her chains that family and society bound. That is, she is the incompatible character in the play. Eventually, she confesses that she has pretended to like the same things such as husband's and father's tastes and opinions. After all, the book and both plays are masterpieces that reflect a woman's transformation that her family and society once suppressed.
“A Doll's House (Et Dukkehjem Norway 1973) with English Subtitles.” 1973, https://youtube.com/
“Center Players Presents: A Doll's House - Full Play.” 2015, https://youtube.com/
Ibsen, Henrik, et al. A Doll House. Smith and Kraus Play Licensing, 2006.
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