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Elements of Drama Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879)

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1 Elements of Drama Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879)
English 371 Danika Rockett University of Baltimore Elements of Drama Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879)

2 A Doll’s House: by Henrik Ibsen (1828 – 1906)
“Godfather of modern drama” Ibsen’s father was reckless with money At 16, Ibsen had an affair with a housemaid 10 years his senior He suffered social humiliation because of their illegitimate son Eventually met and married Susannah, whose habits and intimate life he portrayed on stage Wrote about one play per year

3 A Doll’s House: Late Victorianism & the Rise of the Middle Class
With so much change afoot, it is unsurprising that the new middle class preferred its entertainments to be either moral or inconsequential. Didactic literature, meant to train children and adults in the proper way to behave, flourished, as did all manner of home entertainments that allowed the middle class to escape the bewildering world of their dirty, slum-ridden cities.

4 A Doll’s House: The New Woman
"The New Woman sprang fully armed from Ibsen's brain …” The New Woman pushed against the limits set by male-dominated society By the end of the 19th century, many of the social limitations of the Victorian period became insufferable, especially for the people who received the brunt of social scrutiny: women and minorities. They began to rebel and demand equal rights.

5 Elements of Drama Character Action Conflict Plot Setting Symbolism

6 What happens in this play?

7 A Doll’s House: Important Lines
Nora: Pooh, we can always borrow until then (148). Nora: I mustn’t be selfish today – I’m not going to think about anything but your troubles. I must just tell you one thing, though (155). Mrs. Linde: Because you certainly couldn’t have borrowed it (160). Nora: … It was almost like being a man (162). Helmer: I take it you’re a widow, Mrs. Linde? (167).

8 A Doll’s House: Important Lines
Nora: Why only mothers? (179). Nora: Do you think they’d forget their mamma if she went away altogether? (182). Helmer: …suppose it were to get about that the new Manager had let himself be influenced by his wife (188). Rank: Those who go away are quickly forgotten (192). Nora: …being with Torvald is very like being with Papa (196). Nora: I’ve been your doll-wife here … (226). I believe that before everything else, I am a human being (228)

9 A Doll’s House: Important Lines
Helmer: Nora, I’d gladly work night and day for you, and endure poverty and sorrow for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his honour for the one he loves. Nora: Thousands of women have. What does this exchange imply about their perceived definitions of “honour”?

10 Elements of Drama: Characters
Protagonist – the main character (hero or heroine) Antagonist – the protagonist struggles against this character (this is often a villain, but not necessarily) Foil – serves to illuminate a main character, usually through contradiction (think of “good” Cinderella and her “evil” sisters) Confidante – someone in whom the central character confides, thus revealing the main character’s personality, thoughts, and intentions Dynamic – a character who changes during the course of the story. The change in outlook or character is permanent. Static – a character who remains primarily the same throughout a story. Events in the story do not alter a static character’s outlook, personality, motivation, perception, habits, etc.

11 The Language of Characters
Soliloquy Monologue Dialogue

12 The Language of Characters: Soliloquy
A long speech by one character in which the speaker communicates special information only to the audience. “To be or not to be …” A character’s language reveals his or her feelings, values, situation, and/or beliefs.

13 The Language of Characters: Monologue
Like a soliloquy, it is a relatively lengthy passage spoken by one character Unlike a soliloquy, a monologue is addressed to other characters as well as to the audience. It serves the same function as soliloquy: It permits an extended discussion of information, attitudes, or ideas of one character.

14 The Language of Characters: Monologue Act III, p. 226
Nora: It’s true, Torvald. When I lived at home with Papa, he used to tell me his opinion about everything, and so I had the same opinion. If I thought differently, I had to hide it from him, or he wouldn’t have liked it. He called me his little doll, and he used to play with me just as I played with my dolls. Then I came to live in your house— Helmer: That’s no way to talk about our marriage! Nora [undisturbed]: I mean when I passed out of Papa’s hands into yours. You arranged everything to suit your own tastes, and so I came to have the same tastes as yours … or I pretended to. I’m not quite sure which … perhaps it was a bit of both—sometimes one and sometimes the other. Now that I come to look at it, I’ve lived here like a pauper—simply from hand to mouth. I’ve lived by performing tricks for you, Torvald. That was how you wanted it. You and Papa have committed a grievous sin against me: It’s your fault I’ve made nothing of my life.

15 The Language of Characters: Dialogue
Most words in a play are spoken between two characters. This exchange is called dialogue. Demonstrates agreements, conflicts, relationships, differing or similar beliefs, and motives between characters. Dialogue is the main element in a play for the development of character, plot, and theme.

16 The Language of Characters: Dialogue
Consider the following lines from Act I: Helmer: Is that my little skylark twittering out there? Nora: It is. Helmer: Scampering about like a little squirrel? Nora: Yes. Helmer: When did the squirrel come home? Nora: Just this minute . . . How does this exchange reveal the dynamics of this relationship?

17 Elements of Drama: Action
The specific action is represented in [brackets] Every actor in a play not only speaks but also act and reacts to other characters and events. Torvald’s “finger wagging” at Nora (151). Nora tosses her head as she walks away (158). Mrs. Linde’s reaction to Krogstad’s entrance (163). Inaction, or refusal to act, is also important In drama, the action is often complex Tension builds because of Krogstad’s veiled threats to Nora and his speeches to Torvald, hinting at disaster.

18 Elements of Drama: Conflict
Nora’s struggle with Krogstad, who threatens to tell her husband about her past crime, incites Nora’s journey of self-discovery and provides much of the play’s dramatic suspense. Nora’s primary struggle, however, is against the selfish, stifling, and oppressive attitudes of her husband and of the Victorian society that he represents.

19 Elements of Drama: Plot
The plot in a dramatic or narrative work is the structure of its action, the main story. The plot is much more than a mere synopsis of the story. The plot centers on the protagonist—the main character (hero or heroine) The protagonist struggles against the antagonist, which could be another character or perhaps an idea or entity. The relationship between them becomes the conflict.

20 Elements of Drama: Plot Freytag’s Pyramid

21 Elements of Drama: Setting
In drama, setting differs greatly from other forms of literature. The stage allows the playwright to avoid describing place (or setting) in great detail.

22 Elements of Drama: Symbolism
Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts (Think: Torvald symbolizes society) In drama, symbols are often much more overt—less subtle—than in other genres. In plays, symbols will sometimes appear on the stage itself to remind the audience of their presence.

23 Elements of Drama: Symbolism
The Christmas tree Torvald’s diminutive nicknames for Nora Nora’s dance Nora’s change of clothing Christmas and New Year

24 Elements of Drama: Theme
The theme is the central or fundamental idea of a play (or a novel, a film, etc.). A literary work will have multiple themes Think about some of the themes we’ve discussed in this class

25 A Doll’s House: Characters
Nora Helmer Torvald Helmer Dr. Rank Kristina Linde Nils Krogstad Children Anna-Maria (nurse)

26 A Doll’s House: Setting
How does the setting function in relation to the plot? What is significant about the title?

27 Questions?

28 Reminders for Next Week
Syllabus change for Monday: The Ledger and Woolf readings are optional. We will quiz on the other assigned readings Mid-Term exam one week from today Multiple choice questions will come from Power Point presentations and class readings

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