A Doll's House

From Academic Kids

There is a separate article about The Doll's House, the graphic novel collection of the comic book The Sandman.

A Doll's House (no. Et dukkehjem) is a 1879 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The play was highly controversial when first published, as it is sharply critical of Victorian marriage norms.

A Doll's House was made into numerous movies, including a 1973 version directed by Joseph Losey.

Plot

A Doll's House is a scathing criticism of the traditional roles of men and women in Victorian marriage. As Ibsen wrote in his intitial notes for the play, "There are two kinds of moral law, two kinds of conscience, one in man and a completely different one in woman. They do not understand each other; but in matters of practical living the woman is judged by man’s law, as if she were not a woman but a man."

Ibsen has his protagonist, Nora, leave her husband in search of the wider world, after realizing that he is not the noble creature she has supposed him to be. Her role in the marriage is that of a doll, her house a "Doll's House", and indeed her husband Torvald refers to her incessantly as his little "starling" and as his "squirrel". She is not even permitted a key to the mailbox. Ibsen noted, "A woman cannot be herself in contemporary society, it is an exclusively male society with laws drafted by men, and with counsel and judges who judge feminine conduct from the male point of view." When she is blackmailed because of an improper act that she commits in order to save her husband's life – forging her father's name on a note – her husband shows disgust and horror and what she had done upon finding this out. His only concern is his own reputation, despite the love for him that prompts her to do it.

When the blackmailer (Krogstad) recants, it could all be over, and in a traditional Victorian drama all would then be resolved. For Ibsen, however, and for Nora, it is too late to go back to the way things were. Her illusions destroyed, she decides she must leave her husband, her children, and her Doll's House to discover what is truly real and what is not. As Ibsen described it, "Depressed and confused by her faith in authority, she loses faith in her moral right and ability to bring up her children. Bitterness. A mother in contemporary society, just as certain insects go away and die when she has done her duty in the propagation of the race."

Critics

To the Victorians, this was scandalous. Nothing was considered more sacrosanct than the covenant of marriage, and to portray it in such a way was completely unacceptable. Some theatre houses refused to stage the play, so Ibsen was pressed to write an alternate ending that was far less black. This distressed him considerably, and on occasion he actually submitted a "correction" at the last minute to the actors on opening nights.

External links

he:בית הבובות no:Et dukkehjem

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