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Megan Ludlow

on 5 May 2013

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A Dolls House - Henrik Ibsen Background Context Cultural Context Literary Techniques Henrik Ibsen Always poor His friend Laura was just like Nora 1962, exiled from Norway to Italy Wrote "A Doll's House and "Pillars of Society whilst living in Germany "A Doll's House" was published in 1897 Gendered Roles Women associated with the Domestic Sphere "Helmer's Flat" - No shared wealth between spouses. "Study" Vs. "Piano" Husbands have power over their wives: "[Nora] goes cautiously to her husband’s door and listens" Money Direct link between social standing and finance. Torvald stresses that they "mustn't waste money" He condemns those who borrow and work themselves into "debt" Nora is "just like a woman" It is only acceptable for women to have money if it is a frivolous request Feminism Boundaries being crossed Cultural Connections Genre and Setting A Doll’s House is known as a realistic, modern prose drama. This more realistic genre, as opposed to Romanticism, is more universal in message. In this play, Ibsen conveys his views on the oppression of Women in bourgeois society. This is done through the exploration of the female character Nora's restrictions within society. Title "A Doll's House" The Facade Doll's vs. Doll Roles Doll's Houses have a removable exterior that can hide or reveal what is underneath. The play is about stripping that back to reveal the truth. Dolls are manipulated by the children that own them. Nora is referred to as a "doll" by her father and is then passed over to Torvald to play a similar role. In different translations of the Norwegian title, Et Dukkehjem, the word Doll shows possession over the house. This causes us to question if, as a doll, Nora can ever be in control as it is Torvald's house. 1884 the Norwegian association for woman’s rights was created Two significant laws were passed in 1888 Paralanguage Ibsen uses paralanguage as a way to subtly mark character development. Dramatic Irony Torvald mentions how Krogstad's act of forgery will corrupt his children Nora is dismissed as being just a woman and not capable of acting for the family when she has. Foreshadowing Devices Nora's macaroons foreshadow her realisation that her duty is to herself. Symbols & Motifs Christmas Tree It is used to decorate the house in a similar way to how Nora is expected to decorate the life of Torvald. Black Crosses Shows the self-sacrifice women have to go through in their lives. Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for the good of others in a similar way women sacrifice themselves for their families. Tarantella In a similar way to how the dance was thought to purge a spider’s poison from the body, Nora ‘purges’ her old views to be re-born as an independent woman. Macaroons Symbolises the concealment women had to go through to indulge in certain pleasures. It is also an early symbol of Nora’s rebellion against the Patriarchy. She has to suppress her desires to fit in to this society. Light and Dark The Lamp in Act 3 highlights Krogstad and Kristina against the darkness and misery society has forced on them.

Dr. Rank’s cigar symbolises how he lit up Nora’s life by being the man around whom she could be herself, the accepting male figure in an otherwise unforgiving patriarchal society.

The burned out candles in Act 2 show how Nora has been living in the dark all along. Gendered Gifts Raised By a Nanny Women and Work Clothing “Look, here’s a new suit for Ivar, and a sword too. Here’s a horse and a trumpet for Bob; and here’s a doll and a doll’s bed for Emmy.” – pg149 I won’t see my children – I’m sure they’re in better hands than mine.” – pg231 Just like a woman” pg149 “she is in outdoor clothes” Understanding Easy to Understand Hard to Understand Nora’s Sacrificial attitude, going so far as to commit a crime to save Torvald’s life, and then later contemplating suicide to help save his good reputation, and while Nora obstinately believes in the miracle that Torvald will go out of his way to save her, there is no solid proof that it actually will happen, and Act 3 reveals that Torvald failed t even acknowledge that she was in the same room as him. Nora leaving her kids and husband, showcasing Ibsen’s belief that all sacrifices have a limit and that one should stop sacrificing when it is clear that there is no reciprocation; there should not be all give and no take (Nora) just as much as there should not be all take and no give (Torvald), especially since parents and other members of society encourage us to sacrifice without any thought for reciprocation as this showcases true kindness. Ibsen, however, considers this attitude to be unhealthy and at times detrimental to people as it limits them from even simple enjoyments in life. (Nora having to eat her macaroons away from Torvald)
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