A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen: Introduction

The Reception of the Play A Doll's House is a naturalistic problem play based on the social reality of the late nineteenth century European society. It deals with the problem of crisis of the traditional marriage based on domination of women by men and women's position as possession of man.

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

In A Doll's House, modern drama found its typical form, but it was Nora and her rebellion which caused the play to become a universal sensation. It was soon translated into several European languages and it was staged in theatres as far flung as South America and Australia. It was explained and attacked in newspapers, periodicals, and books; it was condemned from pulpits and discussed by lawyers. What made people most angry was that Nora leaves her husband and children, and in several German theatres the final act was altered so that she chooses to stay. In order to prevent even worse falsification, Ibsen himself prepared a revised version to provide a happy ending. Later he regretted this, saying that actually it was for the sake of the final scene that he had written the whole play. With its original ending (that is, with Nora's exit from her home). A Doll's House has received world-wide publicity and greater fame than any other play by Ibsen. It has revealed a strange power to stimulate an audience to discussion and this in widely differing times and places.

Henrik Ibsen is known as the father of modern realism in most of the eastern and western drama. Before Ibsen all dramatists followed romantic convention. Ibsen for the first time introduced problem play. A Doll's House is a problem play or a thesis play, like most of his other works. It presents the real problem of society to the audience and to the reader. The problem Ibsen has presented in the drama is the position of woman in relation to her husband and her home. The play shows that if a married woman depends upon her husband blindly the consequences may be disastrous. The woman gradually reveals her existence and she wants to emancipate herself from the bondage of a conventional moralist. The play explores deep into the theme marriage. Ibsen favored Nora and he wanted to make his contemporary women aware of the situation. The implied message of the drama is that women no longer are content to be treated as pets and skylarks, protected sex objects and dependent dolls.

Through different activities and writings Ibsen was in favor of women's independence. A theme which was recurrent in those days the play deals with a predicament in which a married woman finds herself on account of the excessive control which her husband exercises upon her. The situation or the theme of the play was very appropriate for the 19th century Europe. A woman was reduced in size by her conventional society. In the drama the husband is reduced in size and new lesson was taught to the society. She also defers him. The woman is dedicated to seek her rights, whereas the size of the duty to her family is reduced. The main aim of this play was to establish the fact that a woman should be allowed to establish her identity and develop her own individual existence.

Nora was treated not like a human by her husband rather she is fooled by using child- talk and an endearing expression. He addresses her like a pet and he uses the word pet many times. For him she is a little sky-lark or a frisking squirrel. All the household rules are laid down by him. He suggests her not to be spendthrift; he forbids her eating macaroons and he is against borrowing money. It seems as if Nora has no desires and wishes. By pointing at Nora's father's weaknesses and also those of Krogstad's, he seems to be a strict moralist. He had formed a dominant psychology on Nora therefore she trembles even to think of the forgery before him. She is afraid of poisoning her children. But Nora had always shown her fidelity and devotion towards her husband. She respected and loved him so much that she even borrowed money secretly for the treatment of her husband and pretended that her father had given it to her. She was proud to save his life, but she didn't know the law would find her guilty. She did all this out of love and devotion and innocently. On the other hand, she was not in line love for Helmer. She believed in Helmer's love for her too. When Krogstad threatens her with the possibility of being guilty of forgery, she trembled with fear that Helmer would take the whole guilt upon himself and he would risk his life to save her but all that went wrong. When came to know about forgery, instead of sympathizing with Nora, he became very furious at what she did and held her responsible for her own dream. At this Nora suddenly realize that her husband was selfish and she had to confront danger alone when a situation occurred.

The convention has taught Helmer to regard Nora as his property. Nora also believes that her husband loves her amorously only so far as she'll retain physical fitness and beauty so both Nora and Helmer had developed an artificial love not a true one depended upon mutual understanding. In this way Nora's about leaving her house is a big question to the readers. They have to decide on whether she was right or wrong; whether she was natural or unnatural in taking a bold decision.

A Doll's House Study Center

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