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    A doll's house


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    Registration date : 2007-12-03

    Re: A doll's house

    Post by ibtihel on Sat Mar 01, 2008 5:26 pm

    A dolls House Henrik Ibsens revolutionary play
    A Doll's House was written by Henrik Ibsen. It was first performed in 1879 at the Danish Royal Theatre where many people were shocked and cried out in indignation. Indeed, this play does not look like the traditional and romantic drama the audience was used to. Actually, Ibsen added new elements which were so new that he gained the reputation of a ground-breaking dramatist but furthermore the reputation of a revolutionary author.

    He was first called a modernist, because modernism denotes a self conscious break with traditional modes of knowing world and a new emphasis on the importance of the contemporary world. Joseph Wood Krucht stated: 'to be modern is to be, in many important ways, different from his predecessors.' The must important way we could discern is the aim: Ibsen had a different aim from his predecessors. Besides, he also was very different in the ways to reach this aim -- indeed, he used some new tools, like his characters' nature or the way they express, to go further in his goal.

    First of all, one of the modern characteristics was the audience he chose. Indeed, he wrote for the middle class. Before him, drama was an entertainment for higher classes. So, Ibsen dedicated his play to the middle class -- a class which was created by the institutions of marriage, church, civil life and law. Besides, Ibsen wanted to shock, to scandalize this class, by attacking the institutions which were its bases. And his aim was reached, indeed, the criticism of his plays was furious in the middle class newspapers: 'It is an open drain ' a toilet' In A Doll's House, Ibsen attacks the institution of marriage by presenting a middle class couple where the husband ' Torvald ' treats his wife ' Nora ' like a doll. He exposes the idealization of marriage and tries to denounce this kind of continuous lies which middle class wanted to believe in. For Ibsen, 'Idealist puts a mask over the truth so that he can live with it.' Ibsen wanted to remove this mask. In this play, the audience could see a woman who claims that she happily married but deep inside she knows it is not true and she begins to realize it. It is so, a search for truth from the author.

    Besides, to be as close as possible to the truth, Ibsen used a language totally new for drama at that time: he chose prose instead of verse. But for him, it remains poetry, because poetry is a search for truth. He expressed this idea in a response to a critic:

    'But your plays are not poetic, Mr Ibsen.' Ibsen said, 'Then you will have to alter your idea of poetry. It is the search for truth ' it does not have to rhyme. If it has this search, then it is poetry.'

    Following him, the common language reflects realism. Thus, Ibsen broke with the tradition of drama in the choice of his audience: the middle class, in the choice of the topic: attacks on middle class institutions (in order to shock with the truth) and in the choice of the language: middle class common language. Moreover, this replacement of verse by prose will have a great impact on the development of drama.

    Besides, another telling argument in support of the idea that Ibsen was a revolutionary writer is his characters' choice and nature, especially Nora's in A Doll's House. At the end of the play, the way she acts shows that she refuses to conform to convention, she refuses to be her husband's doll but she wants to assert her independency. However she is a woman and following the middle class society at that time: 'immediately marriage becomes a microcosm of the prevailing male-dominated society at large, in which ' as the preliminary notes to A Doll's House put it ' A woman cannot be herself... 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.' So, by her final reaction: slamming the door and leaving her family, she knows that she refuses to accept a society where a woman is a doll, where a woman has no more rights than a child.

    So, Ibsen's characters are not special people -- actually, they resemble the audience he wanted to touch. And the way the characters speak, added to this resemblance leads to identification from the public with the characters. This was a new relationship between theatre and its audience. Besides, his characters are not all bad or good. There are no hero, no villain. Ibsen said: 'In the good there is bad, and in the bad there is good.' Actually, it was the first time that characters talked about themselves, reveal their inside doubts. By this way, he tried to force the spectators to see life as more complex than they might think. And, in this view too, He was a pioneer.

    Besides, this also had an impact on the actors, indeed it represented a challenge because it was the first time they had to be on their character's side, nor a villain representing evil, neither a hero representing good but just a human being with both sides. 'Ibsen never says which character is wrong or right.' This aspect represented a huge advance in theatre. But his real aim was the spectator to 'think and discuss and ' from the discussion ' to learn who he really is.' Indeed thanks to identification, Ibsen's plays become 'not about a single person with a problem. They [Ibsen's plays] are about all the people who have that problem.' So, the spectators can feel themselves involved in the play, and they could so question themselves about how they would have acted in the character's place. So the spectator has to forge his own opinion about a character, in Nora's case for example: does he think it is finally a rather convenient situation for her to play the doll? Or is he ready to admit that she is just a victim of a patriarchal society, and therefore, that she has to play the doll?

    Actually, the answer did not really matter, the point is that it enforced the audience to think and discuss about the problem. And this 'intelligent drama' was reached thanks to Ibsen's modernisation.

    Until the latter part of the nineteenth century, theatre remained a vehicle of entertainment. However Ibsen contributed a new significance to drama which changed the development of modern theatre. Indeed, he first popularised drama with his wishes to touch a middle class audience -- and, by permitting this new audience to understand drama thanks to a closer language, he managed to create a link, a kind of identification from the audience with the characters. These features were totally new. Moreover he came to a theatre which makes the audience think about its own condition in life. But he had to scandalise in order to show people the truth -- and in that way we can say that Ibsen was more than a modernist actually we can add that he also was a revolutionary dramatist. His revolution in drama was obvious in A Doll's House because this play gathers all Ibsen's new features, his will as well as his means to reach what he wanted. However, as all the revolutionary writers, had to face annoyances, for example he had to change the end of A Doll's House in Germany because it was not seen as politically correct. But this event represented another argument enforcing his revolutionary reputation.

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