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Realism and Naturalism

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Julie Bloodworth

on 19 March 2015

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Transcript of Realism and Naturalism

Realism and Naturalism
He wrote A Doll's House in 1879
The theme, in his own words is that, "a woman cannot be herself in modern society," since it is "an exclusively male society, with laws made by men and with prosecutors and judges who assess feminine conduct from a masculine standpoint." The relationship of the protagonist of the play, Nora Helmer, and her husband, embodies this theme. At the beginning of the play, Nora does her best to conform to the role of the dutiful wife and mother. Her husband Torvald is a 19th century middle-class business man, concerned above all, with appearances. In this relationship, Nora is rewarded for child-like behavior. The Helmer home is the doll house of the title, and Nora is the doll.

Realism was a movement in 19th-century theatre.
Its aim was to bring fidelity of real life to texts and performances.
Here are some of its characteristics:
Here's why Ibsen is sometimes called "the father of theatrical realism"
focus on middle class drama
Synopsis of A Doll's House, according to About.com. "A Doll's House is a three act play about a seemingly typical housewife who becomes disillusioned and dissatisfied with her condescending husband."
the power of the individual to choose
Nora: I have to stand completely alone, if I'm ever going to discover myself and the world out there. So I can't go on living with you. I want to leave right away. From here on, there's no use forbidding me anything. I'll take with me whatever is mine. I don't want a thing from you, either now or later.
colloquial speech
mundane settings
Setting of A Doll's House: "A comfortable room, tastefully but not expensively furnished."
Nora: But come here so I can show you everything I bought. And so cheap! Look, new clothes for Ivar here--and a sword. Here a horse and trumpet for Bob. And a doll and a doll's bed here for Emmy; they're nothing much, but she'll tear them to bits in no time anyway.
Spoiler Alert
When it was first produced, A Doll's House caused tremendous controversy because of its shocking ending: Nora leaves her husband and her three children in an effort to discover herself. The play ends with these famous sound directions: "From below, the sound of a door slamming shut."

By 2006, A Doll's House was the world's most performed play.
Whereas realistic plays explore social topics, in naturalistic plays, the characters are the play's entire subject. The term "slice of life" may be applied to naturalism. Eugene O'Neill's
Long Day's Journey into Night
is a good example.
The play takes place over the course of one day, and follows one family, the Tyrones. Through dialogue, the audience learns of the mother's addiction to morphine, her son's tuberculosis, her husband's stinginess and many other aspects of this dysfunctional family. The play was so autobiographical that O'Neill forbade its production or publication until many years after his death. He won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for
Long Day's Journey Into Night
Although Ibsen said he didn't write
A Doll's House
specifically to explore women's rights, the social issue is so obvious in his work, that
A Doll's House
is often cited as a quintessential example of realism. In contrast, O'Neill let the audience glimpse a "slice of life" of the Tyrone family without using the characters to explore a larger social issue. The play isn't "about" drug abuse, but rather the characters' interaction, both dysfunctional and loving.
This is Henrick Ibsen, a 19th-century Norweigian playwright known as "the father of dramatic realism"
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