Presentation on theme: "A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen. Theme I have been more of a poet and less of a social philosopher than most people have been inclined to believe.... I can’t."— Presentation transcript:
Theme I have been more of a poet and less of a social philosopher than most people have been inclined to believe.... I can’t claim the honor of ever having worked consciously for women’s rights. I’m not even sure I know what they are. To me it has seemed a matter of human rights. - Ibsen
A Doll’s House vs. A Doll House A Doll House, referring to a child’s miniature model of a home, complete with furnishings, is the literal meaning of Ibsen’s words, and more accurately reflects the situation in which Nora, Torvald, their children and servants, and to some extent their visitors exist: a prettified imitation of a home and a marriage.
Nora Don’t Dismiss Her Too Easily Child-wife Adult coquette (tease) Determined businesswoman A woman desperate enough to consider suicide A coldly independent woman
Tragedy or Comedy? If tragedy, is Nora’s self-destructive assertion of her uncompromising and powerful ego a necessary expression of her Romantic quest for freedom? If comedy, is the play a social comedy revealing the need for change in the patriarchal middle class, a play that provides insight into how Nora can learn to function as an individual amid a conforming and oppressive society?
Middle-Class Life Ibsen’s portrayal of middle-class life emphasizes how limiting, brutal, and unforgiving it is It appears to be affluent and agreeable enough to those who can operate in it successfully. When we first meet the Helmers, many of the most cherished ideals of middle-class life are on display. Read p. 2033 in Bedford. See if you can make sense of the play from a Marxist viewpoint.
What Is Proper Conduct? This society values money, contracts, and conventional respectability over anything else and has no room for people who do not fit comfortably into its expectations Mrs. Linde & Krogstad They live desperate lives. They are still young but have prematurely aged. The cruelty of society is not simply economic – Krogstad Isolation can leave a person unable to create for himself a meaningful relationship Pay attention to Mrs. Linde’s situation at the beginning of the play and how it bears similarity to Nora’s at the end
Dr. Rank = Ibsen’s Society External – Successful, rich, well respected. He is a doctor who heals. Internal – He is dying from the inside from syphilis. He acquired this disease not from any wrongdoing on his part but from his father as his inheritance.
Torvald Don’t Dismiss Him as a Fool Keep in Mind the World View of Ibsen’s Audience Torvald is a hard-working and successful professional newly promoted to be in charge of the engine of middle-class respectability His problem – if we can call it that – is that his intelligence is entirely determined and limited to his awareness of the social rules around him
Torvald’s Identity Torvald’s identity is wrapped up in how others look at him (Think about how this works as a social commentary) Nothing else matters to him! Nora? Rank? Krogstad? Mrs. Linde Nora – Endangers his social identity with threat of scandal Rank – What good is he to Torvald when he is dead? Krogstad – Challenges his social identity by using his Christian name! How petty! Mrs. Linde – She is irrelevant
Torvald the Hero Torvald makes no attempt to pretend he believes in anything other than what society’s rules indicate He appears incapable of even imagining another dimension to life We can view him as the fullest living embodiment of the perfectly and entirely social man in his milieu That is why Torvald’s comments about how he will act the hero should the need arise are so empty: heroes are by definition unconventionally great. Torvald is a thoroughly conventional man
Is Nora’s transformation from child to adult too sudden to be plausible? Do people make self-discoveries that change the course of their actions? Is Nora sufficiently characterized to explain how the events that are dramatized can account for a change in her? Does her change result in an effective dramatic climax? Does her change embody Ibsen’s themes?
“The door slam heard around the world” How so? “The end of a chapter in human history” Why?
“I forgive you” - Torvald Why do we as a modern audience laugh? How might we view his statement as a sincere concession?
Nora Do we celebrate her as a champion of feminist principles? Do we condemn her as an egotist?