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A Doll's House
Transcript of A Doll's House
A Doll's House
Henrik Johan Ibsen
Birth Date: March 20, 1828
Place of Birth: Skien, Norway
Death Date: May 23, 1906
Place of Death: Oslo, Norway
Ibsen was the oldest of five children
Father was a successful merchant; Mother painted, played the piano, and loved to go to the theater
Family became impoverished when Ibsen was 8 because of problems in his father's business
At 15, Ibsen stopped school and went to work in an apothecary
Ibsen wrote his first play, Catalina, in 1849
Ibsen failed the university entrance examination to study medicine and instead decided to pursue a career in theater
First Experiences in the Theater
In 1851, Ibsen began a 13-year apprenticeship in the theater in Bergen and Oslo
In his apprenticeship, Ibsen learned about the conventions of the "well-made play" which emphasized a complicated, artifical plot based on secrets, suspense, and surprises
Ibsen's apprenticeship was largely unsuccessful: he was often frustrated and others claimed that he mismanaged the theater
Ibsen married his wife, Susannah, in 1858 and had his only son in 1859
In 1864, Ibsen began a self-imposed exile from Norway that would last 27 years
Ibsen divided his time between Italy and Germany.
During his exile, Ibsen wrote his most famous works including Peer Gynt, A Doll's House, and Hedda Gabler
The Father of Modern Theater
Ibsen has frequently been referred to as "the father of modern theater." Ibsen transformed drama from an examination of artificial and contrived situations to an examination and criticism of real life. The examination and criticism of real life is called realism.
Ibsen transformed the "well-made play" into the "problem play": a play that examined the moral and social issues of the modern middle class. A Doll's House--which examines the marriage and relationship between Nora and Torvald Helmer--is a perfect example of the realistic and modern "problem play."
A Doll's House
First published on December 4, 1879
First performed in Copenhagen on December 21, 1879
The play was so heatedly debated in Scandinavia in 1879 that as critic Frances Lord observes, "many a social invitation in Stockholm during that winter bore the words, 'You are requested not to mention Ibsen's Doll's House!"
Ibsen had to create an alternate ending for his play in Germany because the leading lady refused to perform the role of Nora. He referred to this alternate ending as a "barbaric outrage."
As Henrik Ibsen's biographer Michael Meyer has observed, "No play had ever before contributed so momentously to the social debate, or been so widely and furiously discussed among people who were not normally interested in theatrical or even artistic matter."
Ibsen and Feminisim
Many consider A Doll's House to be a feminist text. In fact, in 1898, The Norwegian Society for Women's Rights honored Ibsen as "the creator of Nora." In response to this honor, Ibsen replied:
I have been more of a poet and less of a social philosopher than people generally tend to suppose. I thank you for your toast, but must disclaim the honor of having consciously worked for women's rights. I am not even quite sure what women's rights really are. To me it has been a question of human rights. And if you read my books carefully you will realize that. Of course it is incidentally desirable to solve the problem of women; but that has not been my whole object. My task has been the portrayal of human beings.
In 1900, Ibsen had a series of strokes that left him unable to write.
Ibsen died on May 23, 1906. His last words were "To the contrary!"
Print out the list of literary terms on Veracross and underline or highlight the terms that are relevant to drama. Remember, not all of the literary terms we have discussed this year will be relevant to drama. Bring your list with you to class on Wednesday.
One of the major topics in A Doll's House is the roles of men and women in society. Complete ONE of the following options as a means of helping you analyze the roles of men and women in our society today. Be prepared to share your assignment with the class on Wednesday.
Option One: Find one recent newspaper article (published in the last year) that discusses the roles of men and/or women in either the home or the workplace today. Write a one paragraph summary of the article.
Option Two: Create a prezi or powerpoint with three different advertisements that feature men and/or women. For each advertisement, write three sentences analyzing the roles of the women and/or men in that commercial (how are they portrayed, what do they look like, how do they talk, what do they value, etc.)