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English Literature

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Study Material on English Literature.

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    Interestingly, Henrik Ibsen is not unknown to our students for he does foray into College classrooms not so much for his own sake as for his influence especially on George Bernard Shaw and Shavian plays like Candida. So, I invite you all to accompany me in the forthcoming journey to a domain that has remained somewhat un- traversed so far. As stated, I shall begin by drawing attention first to Drama as a literary type and then shall concentrate on the European scene for the purpose stated above. 1.2: DRAMA Drama, as scholars define it, is "the specific mode of fiction represented in performance." (Elam 1980: 98) The term comes from a Greek word, which translates as "action" and has in turn been derived from another word meaning, "to do". Others put it as 'something done', the emphasis, obviously, is on physical action involving movements because as Moliöre phrased it, drama cannot only be bon mettre au cabinet, closet-verse, meant to be read. Rather, when it falls under the purview of Performing Arts, drama is expected to be staged and so what it calls for is 'space'. It needs to be performed somewhere, be it within amphitheatres (Greek/Roman plays), on the streets (Mummeries of the fifteenth century), on fixed wooden stages (Renaissance plays), on waist-high platforms in villages (Nautankis of India), or within royal courts and in courtyards. Not finicky by nature, drama neither waited for the construction of full-fledged buildings nor did it mind when theatres, as in Elizabethan England, were made to rub shoulders with brothels, sanatoriums and leprosariums in the Liberties, the disreputable area just beyond the London city walls. (See Mullaney) But drama, irrespective of its type, is not without certain other demands. For it to take shape, the necessaries include a stage-worthy story, actors chosen to play allotted parts, dialogue that they need to deliver , action and events and also a director to be at the helm of things. And a dramatic performance is considered complete only when it is viewed by an audience that responds to the theme, the characters, their interactions, conflicts, encounters, music, i.e. to the whole presentation, either by cheers and applause or by hisses and cat calls as the case may be. And, if it is as gripping a play as A Doll 's House, then, in the words of Peter Szondi, the Hungarian scholar, the "spectator witnesses the dramatic spectacle in silence, paralysed by the impression of a second world.'
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    Though Szondi argues that drama actually denotes "a literary-historical phenomenon" that began in sixteenth-century England and matured in France in the seventeenth century, to go to its origin one has to travel back in time to the ancient Greek festival of Dionysus. And what had a dramatic beginning in Greece, gradually caught the interest of England and the whole of Europe and developed slowly but steadily and acquired an amazing variety due to explorations and experimentations. Now, for our purpose we need to survey the scene in Europe mainly in the nineteenth century. 1.3: DRAMA IN EUROPE IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY Politics and Religion have very often worked against the interest of drama, irrespective of place and time and culture. It is only too well known how after the Civil War, the Puritans brought the shutters down in England on 2nd September, 1642 and how for a period of nearly eighteen years theatre-goers were denied the pleasure of watching a performance on stage. It was politics once again that made trouble for quality drama in the first few years of the nineteenth century in Europe. In England of the first half of the century, roughly speaking, under the powerful influence of the Romantic poets, drama was more than eclipsed. Neither Wordsworth nor Coleridge nor John Keats was in the proper sense a writer of plays even though dramatic elements are rather strong in poems like Christabel or The Eve of St. Agnes. On the other hand, neither Shelley's Prometheus Unbound nor Lord Byron's Manfred was meant for public performance and The Cenci was not staged before 1922. Things did not look very encouraging in the following years too as Tennyson and Browning were primarily poets and Matthew Arnold and Swinburne's plays, despite aping classical drama, left much to be desired. So, the stage had to wait for the arrival of Henry Arthur Jones and Sir Arthur Wing Pinero who were to be followed soon by the more illustrious playwrights like Shaw and Wilde, Synge and Galsworthy. The scene in Austria was comparatively better with Franz Seraphicus Grillparzer (1791-1872) registering his presence. Born many years before Ibsen, he was a prolific writer who faded from the literary scene by the time the Norwegian playwright was in his twenties. "A cosmopolitan deeply indebted to the Enlightenment, he cherished individualism and individual rights."(Lorenz) That political restrictions affected drama may be understood from the fate of some of his plays like König Ottokars Glück und Ende. Grillparzer's A Faithful Servant to His Master shows clashes between private and public aspirations during difficult times, in the absence of good leadership. For further development of Austrian drama, one has to turn to playwrights like Arthur Schnitzler who, however, was severely criticized for his Reigen described as "Jewish filth" by none other than Hitler himself.
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    In Germany, it was the sentimental and the melodramatic that were more popular and it was during the latter half of the century that Hauptmann and Sudermann brought German drama to the forefront. As in other parts of Europe, Romanticism was the call of the day and in France too plays, especially tragedies, were striving to free themselves from the constriction of Classicism. It was time for the arrival of the comédie-vaudeville of Scribe, with its intricate plots. French melodramas like Thirty Years of a Gambler's Life sprung surprises on the audience by their interesting and amazing situations. These and the comédie-vaudeville were popular plays with songs, meant to entertain and were disregarded by critics of serious drama. However, the tussle between Romanticism and Classicism continued and the younger section of the public craved for plays that represented life with its lights and shades, its ups and downs. By this time drama had to face stiff challenge from prose fiction in England as well as in Europe. In Italy, Giuseppe Giacosa and Gabriele d' Annunzio were writing plays and so was Luigi Pirandello who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his "bold and brilliant renovation" of both drama and the stage. In 1904 the Nobel Prize in Literature went to José Echegaray of Spain and for El gran Galeoto, one of his best plays, he chose the style and manner of the nineteenth-century melodrama. It was in the last decade of the nineteenth century that drama began to be taken very seriously and much of the credit goes to Henrik Ibsen of Norway. And since we are discussing nineteenth-century European drama it would do well to take a quick look at some of the types of drama that were popular at the time Henrik Ibsen was writing his plays. This will be of help because in Ibsen, our dramatist, many of the characteristics of these plays may be seen. 1.4: TYPES OF DRAMA Romantic Drama By the second decade of the nineteenth century, Romanticism dominated the theatre of most of Europe though many of its ideas and practices may be traced back to the late 18th-century Sturm und Drang (Storm and Urge or Storm and Stress) movement of Germany led by Goethe and the dramatist Friedrich Schiller.Common to these plays was the rejection of Neo-classical elements and the introduction of emotion and passion, excessive to some extent. "Perhaps one of the best examples of
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    Romantic drama is Faust (Part I, 1808; Part Il, 1832) by the German playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The plays of the French playwright René Charles Guilbert de Pixérécourt paved the way for French Romanticism, which had previously been known only in the acting of Francois Joseph Talma in the first decades of the 19th century." (Website 1) Romanticism brought about a revolution in the theatre and its three flag-bearers were Alexander Dumas, Alfred de Vigny and Victor Hugo with plays such as Henri Ill Et Sa Cour, Othello and Hernani. Romantic drama brought into focus the individual with his passions and emotions and the purpose was to place before the audience man with all his positive and negative qualities. Drama was thenceforth allowed to use normal and natural dialogue and playwrights did not have to face criticism for, say, using the word 'clock' instead of the acceptable 'ringing bronze' or 'sea' instead of 'wet element'. Victor Hugo's Cromwell was published five months before Ibsen's birth and when he wrote Hernani, considered by many as the first French Romantic drama of quality, Henrik Ibsen was about two years old. Realistic Play Writers of realistic plays aimed at closing the gap between the fictive world and the real and the nineteenth century was to witness this narrowing of distances and see on stage something different from the Classical trend of showing life as well-patterned and skillfully designed. At the same time, excess of emotion and imagination was eyed critically as the approach was more scientific. With science and technology registering their importance, plain fact was given a higher berth than imagination in these plays. It would do well to remember the influence exerted by none less than Darwin, Marx and the French philosopher Auguste Comte and the resultant realism, both social as well as psychological. As money was an important consideration, there was a definite fading of both the spiritual and the idealistic. Realism in Europe coincided with the middle period of Ibsen's career, with his realistic prose plays and with the works of Strindberg and Shaw whose plays brought on stage everyday-situations as well as characters similar to perhaps the people present within the theatre. They spoke and communicated as normal human beings as, for example, in the Russian playwright Aleksey Pisemsky's A Bitter Fate
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    that deals with serfdom. The purpose of such plays was to let society see its own reflection and face the playwrights' criticism of the same as well. Naturalistic Play Naturalism is yet another movement in European drama that developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and went a step ahead of Realism. Naturalistic plays created an amazing illusion of reality as in Strindberg's Miss Julie or Creditors by doing away with the fantastic as well as other worldly elements. Hauptmann's Drayman Henschel is one such play with characters that seem nearly alive. Moreover, the three-dimensional settings were such that made people conscious, after Darwin, of the importance of environment on human character and attitudes thereby marking the basic difference between realism and naturalism. As human behaviour and thoughts were studied scientifically, naturalistic plays provided little or no space for the symbolic. Higher ideals etc. were replaced by the lower and the focus was on animal existence sans spirituality. One is reminded here of Emile Zola and his "physiological man" of passion and appetite. However, for their open depiction of the base and the sordid, naturalistic plays like Leo Tolstoy's The Power of Darkness were either banned or very strongly criticised. Problem play Students of drama are more than familiar with the term problem play, if not in connection with Aristophanes' Lysistrata, then with Shakespeare, using it to analyse plays ranging from Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida to Measure for Measure. However, it was in the nineteenth century that this came into prominence as a part of the realist movement. Problem plays, as the name suggests, thrive on problems, on different issues that may raise storms and thus such plays bring on stage characters engaged in debates/discussions/disputes on and over contrasting and conflicting ideas/beliefs/isms etc. That the term may be used to describe Ibsen's plays goes without saying. As is common knowledge, one of the best places for a playwright to look for his subject and his characters and situations is his own society. The result naturally is a nearness to life leading to on- stage debates and disputes. Moreover, the anxiety, dilemma as well as trauma experienced by fictive men and women persuaded the audience as well to get involved, to become more conscious of existing problems , to think, debate and if possible to work out a solution. These plays did highlight problems
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    arising out of greed, social injustice, inequality and it was not uncommon to have on stage a tragic protagonist who suffered as a result of his or her inability to either face problems boldly or accept meekly what society considered right and acceptable. In fact, such plays could have been disturbing to watch because men and women inside the theatre too could have witnessed their personal problems being discussed on stage and proverbial dirty linens being washed in public. More so because playwrights like Henrik Ibsen in Norway and Bernard Shaw in England were to bring before the audience, openly and boldly, issues ranging from promiscuity and venereal disease to illegitimacy. Well-made play The well-made play or pi&ce bien faite, "codified by Eugene Scribe" and then developed by Victorian Sardou and adapted by Augier, registered a protest against Romantic excesses. Even though, it lost its prestige somehow by the middle of the nineteenth century, it continued to attract realistic playwrights from Ibsen to Zola. With a "distinct neo-classical flavour", such plays too begin at a middle point and actions propel it towards an end that comes soon after the climax. That it had not severed ties with classical drama, is evident from the fact that in the compact plot there are twists, fluctuating fortunes owing to recognitions and reversal of fortune because of arrivals/discovery of letters/documents and so on. Moreover, in a well-made play, despite complications, order is restored at the end. However, even though the content was nothing substantial and though most of Scribe's plays have been somewhat erased from memory, their influence on playwrights is worth mentioning. Shaw did make a few caustic comments on Scribe but traces of Scribean features are to be found in his plays. Henrik Ibsen not only directed some of Scribe's plays but also used this form in some of his more serious plays even though he knew that, conventionally, well-made plays were either comedies or farces. So, as expected of a playwright of his stature, he brought in required variations. Closet drama A closet drama is not meant for the stage and is expected to be read aloud by a solitary reader or by a group. Action thus is minimal but these plays are often rich in "philosophical rhetoric" and have as their predecessor Plato's conversations. Beginning with Friedrich von Schlegel, many have argued that the tragedies of Seneca were written to be recited or read. To debate on this issue in the absence of any documentary evidence will be a futile exercise. But it is accepted that some of the plays of the past,
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    such as those by Hroswitha of Gandersheim, a tenth-century dramatist, or dialectical works such as The Debate of the Body and the Soul belong to this category. Fulke Greville, Sir William Alexander and even Mary Shelley have written closet plays In fact, 1800 onwards, closet drama, written in verse form, gained popularity and even the English Romantic poets tried writing such plays. Symbolist Drama As a theatrical movement Symbolism stood against the principles of Naturalism. Its originator, some time in the early 1890s, was Paul Fort but the credit of its development goes to Lugné-Poö. The shift was from the externals to the spirit of life, "symbolically represented". More suited to its purpose was poetic drama. Arthur Symons' name is intimately connected with the Symbolist movement for his book entitled The Symbolist Movement in Literature published in 1899 which had a deep influence on both W.B.Yeats and T.S. Eliot. The Symbolists aimed at "detheatricalizing" the theatre, freeing it from ornamentation and scenic encumbrances and .. replacing them with a spirituality that was to come from the text and the acting". The "intention was to evoke an unconscious response rather than an intellectual one and to depict the non-rational aspects of characters and events" (Website 1). Naturally, there was an abundance of symbolic imagery that was highly suggestive. The Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck's name is associated with plays of this nature and one may easily trace symbolist elements in the plays of Ibsen and Strindberg. In 1896 the Symbolist Theatre in Paris produced Alfred Jarry's Ubu roi or Ubu King that shocked audience sensibility but formed, in a way, the basis for Absurd drama. Domestic Drama Domestic drama has a long history and it concerns itself with the everyday life of either the middle or the lower class in a certain society. The characters, their lives, and the situations are usually classified as 'ordinary' but the range is wide and as the concern is the common man, the problems included are ones like poverty, misery, sickness, crime, and familial disharmony. In the nineteenth century, domestic drama combined both realism and naturalism and as always familial complications were brought on stage for public viewing. One would naturally label some of Ibsen's plays as 'domestic drama' though they are far superior in quality to other plays of this category. The twentieth century experimented further and introduced symbolism in domestic drama. There was variety no doubt but many of the characters were types rather than individuals.
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    Melodrama The term melodrama has never really been associated with artistic excellence. Instead, it points to excess and exaggeration in the case of plot, character, emotion and so on. Melodrama may also be described as extravagant drama. The original French mélodrame was a putting together of Greek melos (music) and French drame (drama). The first melodrama proper was Rousseau's eighteenth-century play Pygmalion. Much later, Guilbert de Pixérécourt's The Dog of Montargis became extremely popular. In the final quarter of the eighteenth century, near about thirty plays were put up in Germany and the Czech composer Georg Benda's melodrama Ariadne auf Naxos and Medea influenced Mozart. These playwrights introduced a few stock characters, the conventional hero and heroine, a bad man, etc. and the entire play was based mainly on a tussle between the hero and his adversary with the heroine as the prize. These plays ended on a happy note. Thomas Holcroft's A Tale of Mystery (actually Pixérécourt's) was the earliest nineteenth-century English melodrama somewhat in imitation of Gothic plays like The Castle Spectre. Urban melodramas such as The Streets of London (1864) by Dion Boucicault and Lost in London (1867) by Watts Phillips gained some popularity. 1.5 SUMMING UP With this we come to the end of Unit 1 in which after a short introduction we concentrated on the background and brought into focus drama as a genre and shifted our attention to the dramatic scene in nineteenth-century Europe. Without losing sight of our protagonist, Henrik Ibsen, we surveyed the scene to remain in contact with the different kinds of plays that people, mainly of this century, were exposed to. Moreover, this section will be of help in understanding Ibsen's play even better because almost something of everything discussed has gone into the making of A Doll 's House.
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    UNIT 2: MAJOR EUROPEAN DRAMATISTS OF THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY Structure: 2.0 Objectives 2.1 Some of Ibsen's Contemporaries in Europe 2.2 Some of Ibsen's Contemporaries in England and Ireland 2.3 Norwegian Drama 2.4 Henrik Ibsen 2.5 Ibsen's Plays 2.6 Summing Up 2.0: OBJECTIVES This section contains information on some renowned playwrights of Europe and England and Ireland at the time when Ibsen had become a name. The list of playwrights is by no means complete. But, to give some idea of the scene between 1850, when Ibsen's first play was published and 1899, when he completed his last, an attempt has been made to name, at random, a few dramatists, some of them recipients of the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. I need to mention that some of the writers mentioned are not just dramatists but for our purpose, I have concentrated on their achievements only in the field of drama. 2.1: SOME OF IBSEN'S CONTEMPORARIES IN EUROPE The men mentioned below were all writing plays when Ibsen was almost an established playwright himself. Note the similarities with regard to the choice of themes and issues in particular. JOSÉ ECHEGARAY Y EIZAGUIRRE (1832-1916): This eminent Spanish playwright was born four years after Ibsen. Success eluded him for a while and he did have to use a pseudonym like Ibsen. Things turned brighter after the success of El Libro talonario, staged in 1874. An earlier play, La Ultima Noche was produced a year later in 1875. La Esposa del vengador was immensely popular and thereafter Echegaray, a prolific writer, wrote a number of plays, some good and some that left much to be desired. His fame travelled beyond the Iberian Peninsula and some of his plays were translated into Swedish and Italian. In 1881 appeared El gran Galeoto, a play that is perhaps his best. Echegaray had an open mind, hence was alive to new ideas and was more than willing to experiment as in Mariana in 1892. That it was difficult to be a dramatist of this period and remain untouched by Ibsen is evident
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    from the fact that Echegaray's Mancha que limpia (1895), El Hijo de Don Juan (1892), and El Loco Dios (1900): bear evidence to the influence of Henrik Ibsen. El Loco Dios may be read as an unintentional" parody of Ibsen's symbolism.Echegaray won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1904. Johan August Strindberg (1849 1912): This eminent Swede, a literary genius, considered the father of modern Swedish Literature, is still remembered for his technical experiments. To him goes the credit of handling gender issues and also of introducing novel ideas and new subjects. As with many of his contemporaries, including Ibsen, his first play, Master 010/ written in 1872, was rejected. Success came later and thereafter he experimented freely. His psychological drama The Father(1887) and the 'naturalistic' Miss Julie (1888) dealing with class consciousness and gender interaction along with Creditors (1889) A Dream Play (1902) as well as chamber plays like The Ghost Sonata won him fame. In The Father in which Strindberg concentrates on the battle in the house leading to a psychological collapse of the husband, is a "turning around" of Ibsen's The Wild Duck as he believed that it was he who was Ibsen's Hjalmar Ekdal. He had a growing interest in depicting mental hostility. A master of both naturalism and symbolism, and a forerunner of the expressionism of the post-war theatre and surrealism, Strindberg enjoyed writing about the isolated modern man drifting away helplessly. His women involved in gender clashes generally emerged victorious. After a series of realistic plays, Strindberg wrote To Damascus, his vast symbolic drama. Interestingly, he sent the first two parts of this play to Ibsen with the acknowledgement that the latter was a Master. It was obvious that neither could Strindberg ignore Ibsen nor could Ibsen forget his Swedish contemporary. It is believed that Ibsen kept a portrait of the younger writer above his desk and is said to have remarked, "I cannot write a line without that madman standing and staring down at me with those mad eyes." (Website 2) Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931): He was an Austrian playwright who concentrated only on "a few scenes from life". His method has been described as intellectualization. Schnitzler based his plays like Liebelei or Light o' Love, Anatol and many others on a lover and a mistress or two. The stale subject is well treated but there is more of sadness than joy in his plays. His favourite, the aristocratic hero, accepts disaster as a part of a game called life. His female characters are not dynamic and do not seem fully conscious of their power. For his strong views on anti-Semitism one may turn to Professor Bernhardi. His Reigen was severely criticised as sheer pornography whereas Fräulain Else (1926), a monologue, deals with the trauma and the suicide of a girl forced to expose her body to pay off a
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    family debt. Like his European contemporaries, Schnitzler too dealt with social problems that affected both men and women. Guillaume Victor Emile Augier (1820—1889) was a French dramatist who began his career with a verse drama La Cigué (1844) which was not accepted at first but went on to establish him as a playwright of substance. Like his many European contemporaries, Augier too deals with social themes, with marriage, with husbands and wives, with characters as real as men of flesh and blood. Though not a confirmed moralist, he uses his plays like Les Effrontés (1861), Lions et renards (1869) and others to target avarice, lust of power and other human vices and in Le Fils de Giboyer (1862) he attacks the clerical party of France quite boldly. The fact that Augier was a writer of problem play is proven by his last plays Madame Caverlet (1876) and Les Fourchambault (1879). Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936): This Nobel laureate (1934) was considered a forerunner of the Theatre of the Absurd. Ironically, Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore or Six Characters in Search of an Author, one of his most important plays, created trouble in Rome but caught the interest of theatre-goers in Milan, England and New York.As in the case of both Ibsen and Strindberg, Pirandello's personal tragedy, mainly his wife's mental disorder, coloured his dramatic writings. He was a prolific writer who wrote fast and wrote well and it is believed that it took him just about a year to complete nine plays with titles like, Think of It, Giacomino, Right You Are If You Think You Are. The two plays, Six Characters in Search of an Author and Henry IV, were written some years after Ibsen's death. In the former, to the amazement of the audience, six characters on stage interrupt the rehearsal of one of Pirandello's plays and demand that they be allowed to play out the life that is rightfully theirs. They accuse their author of failing to complete their story and so, as rebels, they refuse to listen to their creator. In Henry IV, dealing with mental derangement, real and faked, there is an outright rejection of the corrupt world and an escape into madness. Pirandello's plays often expose the meaninglessness of all human attempts and deeds. Gerhart Hauptmann (1862-1946): This German dramatist whose name was, in his life time though, bracketed with both Ibsen and Strindberg is hailed as one of the earliest writers of modern drama. With his play Before Dawn or Before Sunrise (1889) Hauptmann ushered naturalism into modern literature. Never too far away from men and society and various problems of the common man, Hauptmann wrote The Weavers (1892) which left the audience wonderstruck as it presented a crowd
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    as the hero. This playwright also wrote comedies like The Beaver Coat (1893) and The Conflagration (1901) but it was his symbolist 'dream play 'The Assumption of Hannele, written in 1893, that created history by using a child protagonist. Hauptmann's Drayman Henschel (1898) and Rose Bernd (1903) deal with Silesian peasant life. In 1912, Hauptmann was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature primarily for his excellence as a playwright. Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) : Referred to as the "Belgian Shakespeare", Maeterlinck wrote in French and as an active member of the Symbolist movement, he was genuinely concerned with death and the meaning of life and held that drama should concern itself less with men and their deeds and more with "the implied inter-action of soul-states". With The Princess Maleine, Maeterlinck began his dramatic career. In 1892 he wrote a series of symbolist plays like The Blind (1890), Intruder (1890) and Pelléas and Mélisande (1892). Like many of his contemporaries, including , Ibsen, Maeterlinck too was interested in creating strong female characters and his Aglavaine and Sélysette, Marie- Victoire,Mary Magdalene bear evidence to this. The Mayor of Stilmonde was considered a great war play by the Americans but Maeterlinck knew that his life would be in danger if he fell into the hands of the Nazis. Though a socialist, one of his best was a fairy play entitled The Blue Bird (1908). Three years later, in 1911, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. It may be seen that almost all the nineteenth-century European playwrights mentioned here experimented freely. And Maeterlinck was no exception. His The Death of Tintagiles, Interior and Alladine and Palomides were written for the marionette theatre where puppets could convey what he wished to, sans speech and expression. A Symbolist, he read Schopenhauer and believed that we human beings are no more than puppets in the grip of Fate. There were further experimentation and Maeterlinck began to write 'static drama' wherein characters moved and conversed but as mere automatons pushed by external forces, without any emotion. Maeterlinck has been hailed as the founder of Symbolistic plays and his play The Blind is said to anticipate Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Maeterlinck, more than conscious of social problems, wished to show that very often human beings are led by external forces and an artist has to draw people's attention to this truth. Imre Madåch de Sztregova et de Kelecsény (1823-1864): He was a Hungarian dramatist actively involved in politics. Personal misfortune saddened Madåch whose chief work is Az ember tragédiåja ("The Tragedy of Man "). This dramatic poem consisting of over 4000 lines and 15 scenes, includes
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    everything from Adam, Eve and Lucifer in Paradise and journeys to Egypt and Rome, to France during the Revolution and also to the modern corrupt London. He goes beyond, from an "ultra Socialist state of the future" to times when the earth will lie hidden under ice and men with their animal-like existence will hide in caves. As stated at the outset, the list is incomplete. But, the short sketches will show that a common thread runs all through, linking each European playwright mentioned directly or indirectly with Henrik Ibsen and Ibsen ' s plays. Like Ibsen, each of them is conscious of or concerned with either social problems or the 'woman question' or the hollowness of life and of men or with all of these. 2.2: SOME OF IBSEN'S CONTEMPORARIES IN ENGLAND AND IRELAND Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854 —1900): Oscar Wilde was born twenty-six years after Ibsen but died six years before the Norwegian playwright. This gifted writer of novels, short stories and non-fictional prose turned to the theatre and playwriting mainly for his interest in social themes. His comedies target men and manners, sparing none. Salome, his first play was refused a licence for the inclusion of Biblical characters and thereafter, for real success, he had to write four social comedies Lady Windermere 's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and his masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest. He takes his audience into the domain of the aristocrats to hold up to view gender clashes, snobbery, corruption and of course conceit and hollowness. His best and most popular play The Importance of Being Earnest that targets not just the Victorian society but also romance and matrimony, was performed in 1895 when Ibsen had just completed Little Eyolf and was about to write John Gabriel Borkman. Wilde does use stock comic conventions like mistaken identities, forgetfulness, clandestine meetings and so on but his interesting characters, highly comic situations, crisp dialogue and sparkling wit have immortalized Wilde as a playwright John Galsworthy (1867 — 1933): Galsworthy, a Nobel laureate (1932), was equally famous for his novels as well as his plays which involve men acutely conscious of the society that they are a part of. Painfully aware of its failings and of social injustice of different kind, his protagonists find themselves tragically trapped. Galsworthy wrote his first play The Silver Box and also The Man of Property, the first of the Forsyte Saga, in the year 1906, the year Henrik Ibsen died. The Norwegian playwright was
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    not to see how in plays, like Strife and Justice, this English playwright, writing well-made social plays, would not only place serious problems like class struggle on stage but also question ethics, justice and compel his audience to think and look for solutions. It well known that after watching a scene in Justice Winston Churchill abolished solitary confinement altogether. Edmund John Millington Synge (1871-1909): Synge, an Irish writer and one of the founders of the Irish Dramatic Movement, was born just a few years before Norwegian theatre-goers were to watch a play called A Doll's House. His was a short but eventful as well as successful life and he breathed his last three years after Ibsen died. It would have gladdened Ibsen's heart to see a young writer take up play writing as a mission both for his motherland and for its people who suffered due to social and economic injustice. By 1903 he had written two plays that were to give him a permanent place in the world of drama. The first was The Shadow of the Glen and the next was the unforgettable Riders to the Sea but unfortunately for Synge, the two plays so close to life, faced harsh criticism for having slighted Ireland and its people, including women. Synge's best came in the form of The Playboy of the Western World that was once again badly received. Of all Ibsen's contemporaries, Synge was the most misunderstood. Still, the playwright refused to idealize his Irish characters and he stated boldly, " .. no drama can grow out of anything other than the fundamental realities of life which are never fantastic, are neither modern nor unmodern... "(Greene and Stephens 1959: 157) George Bernard Shaw (1856 —1950): George Bernard Shaw, as is common knowledge, was one of the most socially-conscious playwrights of his time and his connection with Ibsen is only too well known, especially to readers of The Quintessence of Ibsenism. An active member of the Fabian Society, Shaw was an iconoclast striking at the foundation of what he felt should not legitimately stand. A writer of as many as sixty-three plays, about five mediocre novels, short stories, non-fictional prose, long prefaces to his plays, works of criticism and so on, Bernard Shaw did not enjoy writing without a purpose and declared that for art's sake alone he would never take the trouble of writing a line. One agrees whole-heartedly with the statement that Shaw is a writer of meaningful plays including significant moral, political and economic issues. He considered himself indebted to Henrik Ibsen and likewise brought on stage social problems and issues such as prostitution in Mrs. Warren 's Profession , health and hygiene in Doctor 's Dilemma, matrimony and marital relationship in Candida , a play very often mentioned along with A Doll 's House for the 'woman question'.
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    A propagandist, Shaw's views were clear and in many of his plays characters, often his spokesmen , convey what he has considered right. His portrayal of women too needs special mention like his theory of Creative Evolution and Life Force. It was with his belief in the theory of eugenics that Shaw took it as his duty to think of ways of improving the quality of human beings through judicious marriages and reproduction. In his play Man and Superman (1903), written three years before Ibsen died, he put forth his theory. In 1921 came Back to Methuselah , called a 'science fiction' by some, and here as in Imre Madåch's The Tragedy of Man , Shaw brings in Adam and Eve who , among other things, become acutely conscious of mortality. Shaw was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925, nineteen years after Ibsen's death. 2.3 DRAMA IN NORWAY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY The great 'Four' or De Fire Store, which is exactly how a quartet of Norwegian dramatists in the nineteenth-century school of realism has been described. It is a catchy term and was used as a marketing strategy and for advertisement by the publishing house Gyldendal. It goes without saying that most important of them all is our dramatist, Henrik Ibsen. To know about this Norwegian great you will have to read Unit 3. Here I shall concentrate on the others, who, though eclipsed by Ibsen, have through centuries held on and so, need to be mentioned whenever Norwegian drama is discussed. Bjørnstjerne Martinius Bjørnson (1832 -1910): He was one among the four eminent playwrights of Norway and is remembered also for his lyrics in the Norwegian National Anthem. Having taken to poetry writing at the tender age of eleven, Bjørnson however, began his literary career as a drama critic. Later, when he turned his attention to folke-stykker or national drama focusing on peasant problems, he realized where his true interest lay. Then came Between the Battles, written in 1855 and produced in 1857, Lame Hulda in 1858, and King Sverre in 1861 and Bjørnson became a playwright of importance. His magnum opus is the poetic trilogy of Sigurd the Bad written in 1862, the year his friend Henrik Ibsen's Love 's Comedy was published. Things became easier after his appointment as the director of the theater at Bergen. His interest was varied and so was his range, from the popular comedy The Newly Married and Geography and Love to the romantic tragedy of Mary Stuart in Scotland. With A Bankruptcy and The Editor, both written in 1874, Bjørnson stepped into the field of social dramas and proved to be very modern and realistic. He also wrote the controversial Leonarda (1879) and The New System, satirical in nature. Bjørnson produced a social drama entitled 14
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    Gauntlet in 1883 which was not well accepted initially. Politics is central to his Beyond Powers Il (1895), At Storhove (1902), and Dag's Farm (1904). However, alongside, he has also written the Poems and Songs, an epic cycle Arnljot Gelline and novels like Magnhild.Bjørnson received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1903 i.e. about seven years before his death in 1910. Jonas Lauritz Idemil Lie (1833 1908): Lie, like BjØrnson, began his career as a journalist and wrote poems, tales, though of the sea, like The Visionary or Pictures from Nordland (1870). But the world and its ways did not escape his attention and, like the other three, of the Four Greats, Lie was more than aware of reality. Thus, women and their problems featured very prominently in his plays, more so as he was a liberal. Among Lie's finest works is The Family at Gilje: A Domestic Story of the Forties which is a striking document of an officer's family life and in it he shows what little freedom is given and what few options there are for the daughters of such families. Alexander Lange Kielland (1849 — 1906) was yet another flag-bearer of realism and a spokesman of the down-trodden despite being a factory owner himself. Though he grew up amidst affluence, he had sincere concern for the less fortunate. He is remembered for his satirical comedies like Tre Par (1886) and Professoren (1888) along with his novels like the Gift (1883), Skipper Worse (1882) and Garman & Worse (1880) written somewhat in the same vein. But an uncontrollable craving for food, among other things, brought the curtain down and Kielland, much younger to Herik Ibsen, died in 1906, the year of Ibsen's death. 2.4: HENRIK IBSEN: BIOGRAPHY Skien, a small coastal town to the South of Norway, has for the past two centuries held a place of prominence on the literary map of the world. For here, on 20 March 1828, was born a child, a son to Knud Ibsen and Marichen Altenburg. He was christened Henrik, Henrik Ibsen. Henrik Ibsen had rather uncomfortable early years. Poverty made him give up even education for a while. He tried his hand at a number of things including journalism and poetry. Fortunately for the world of drama, Ibsen, then an aspiring physician, failed to pass the entrance examination. The year 1850 turned out to be an important one. Ibsen's first play Catiline, influenced by Scribe as well as Schiller, was published and then came The Burial Mound, though both were written under the pseudonym Brynjolf Bjarme. Thereafter, his connection with the theatre was further strengthened as
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    he staged about one hundred and fifty plays and became an artistic director of the Norwegian Theatre first and then joined the Christiania Theatre. To this period belong the satire Love's Comedy (1862) and The Pretenders (1864) but, unfortunately, Norway then did not recognize Ibsen's talent. A travel to Italy and Germany changed his fortune and during his long, though not uninterrupted, stay there he wrote some of his best plays. His first major work was Brand (1865) containing many of the themes that he was to use later. But this play and Peer Gynt (1867) made one thing clear. Humour was not Ibsen's forte. In 1873 he wrote a ten-act period play Emperor and Galilean, his last to deal with history. Ibsen discovered his working area soon after and with four social plays, Pillars of Society (1875-77), A Doll's House (1881) and The Enemy of the People (1882), both Ibsenian as well as Norwegian , if not European, drama came of age. Ibsen left the Romantic tradition and turned to realism and brought before the audience its own society along with its institutions, establishments, gender issues, problems concerning marriage, family, finance and so on. He held up to view not just diseased homes but also a warped community where there were either the unintelligent ignorant or the self-seeking, cunning men of importance If one were to study the trends in Ibsenian drama one would find it interesting to see the playwright change his treatment and style. If from the Romantic tradition he turned to Realism, then from realism he shifted to the Symbolic. Though some of his earlier plays like The Pretenders, Love 's Comedy and Per Gynt may be regarded as symbolic, it is with some of his later plays that he actually established himself as a writer of Symbolic plays. In his The Wild Duck (1884), for instance, the duck is both real and tangible as well as a symbol of the condition and the situation of the heroine. Very few will forget the impact of the white horse in Rosmersholm (1886). This play, along with The Lady from the Sea (1888) and Hedda Gabler (1890), bear evidence to this shift that has left his critics somewhat confused with regard to Ibsen's own preferences as a playwright. Ibsen, however, has been criticised for the excess of symbolism in plays in like The Master Builder (1892) and Little Eyolf (1894) where the symbols seem to be superimposed on a "basically realistic structure" and remain "constantly in danger of breaking it." (Taylor: 138) Ibsen returned to Norway only in 1891 and made Christiania, now Oslo, his home till the end came in 1906. His four plays The Master Builder (1892), Little Eyolf (1894), John Gabriel Borkman (1896) and When We Dead Awaken (1899) are generally treated as attempts at presenting dramatic self-
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    portraits. The main characters of these plays are the aging male, like Ibsen himself, with creative professions. They look back to see what kind of lives they have lived so far. The last few years of Ibsen's life were unproductive and by no means peaceful owing mainly to failing health. Henrik Ibsen died at the age of seventy eight in Arbins gate in Christiania in the year 1906. Accepted as the father of modern drama, Henrik Ibsen shocked many with his method of exposing and examining realities that lie concealed but need to be brought before the world. Interestingly, once the audience came to appreciate his hard-hitting plays, it expected the playwright to target everything from ideologies to over-enthusiastic reformers. The playwright too experimented freely and in plays like Hedda Gabler and The Master Builder, he explored the mind of man and brought on stage psychological conflicts and their consequence. It is said that Ibsen's plays not only had an impact on Norwegian writers but also on men like Shaw, Chekhov, James Joyce. Not for nothing has he been called the most influential playwright after William Shakespeare. In 1898, on the occasion of his 70th birthday, a tribute was paid to this literary giant. George Bernard Shaw called him the greatest living dramatist. Henrik Ibsen led a long and eventful life and I shall end this Section with a chronological survey of his Life and Works. Chronological survey of Ibsen's life and works (Website 3) 1828 Henrik Johan Ibsen born on March 20th in Stockmannsgården in Skien. Parents: Marichen (née Altenburg) and Knud Ibsen, merchant. 1835 Father has to give up his business. The properties are auctioned off. The family moves to Venstøp, a farm in Gjerpen 1843 Confirmed in Gjerpen church. Family moves to Snipetorp in Skien.lbsen leaves home on December 27th. 1844 Arrives in Grimstad on January 3rd to be apprenticed to Jens Aarup Reimann, chemist. 1846 Has an illegitimate child by Else Sophie Jensdatter, one of Reimanms servants. 1847 Lars Nielsen takes over ownership of the chemist' s,
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    1849 1850 1851 1853 1854 1855 1856 1857 1858 1859 1860 1861 1862 1863 moving to larger premises. Ibsen writes Catiline. Goes to Christiania to study for the university entrance examination. Catiline is published under the pseudonym Brynjolf Bjarme. Edits the Studente Union paper Samfundsbladet and the satirical weekly Andhrimner. First Ibsen staging in history: the one-act The Burial Mound is performed at Christiania Theater on September 26th. Moves to Bergen to begin directing productions at Det norske Theater. Study tour to Copenhagen and Dresden. First performance of St. John Night. First performance of The Burial Mound in a revised version. First performance of Lady Inger. First performance of The Feast at Solhoug. Becomes engaged to Suzannah Thoresen. First performance of Olaf Liljekrans. Is appointed artistic director of Kristiania Norske Theater. Marries Suzannah Thoresen on June 18th. First performance of The Vikings at Helgeland. Writes the poem "Paa Vidderne" ("Life on the Upland") and the cycle of poems "I billedgalleriet" ("At the Art Gallery"). His son Sigurd is born on December 23rd. Writes "Svanhild" - a draft for Loves Comedy. Writes the poem "Terje Vigen" Kristiania Norske Theater goes bankrupt. Ibsen goes on a study tour to the valley of Gudbrandsdalen and to the West Country to study folklore. Loves Comedy is published (first performance at Christiania Theater on November 24th 1873). Is appointed consultant to Christiania Theater. The Pretenders is published. Writes the poem "En broder i nød" ("A Brother in Need").
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    1864 The Pretenders has its first performance at Christiania Theater. Leaves for Italy and lives in Rome for four years. 1865 Writes "The Epic Brand". Revises it with the title Brand. 1866 Brand is published and is a success. Ibsen is awarded one of the state stipends for artists. 1867 Publishes Loves Comedy in a revised version. Writes and publishes Peer Gynt (first performance at Christiania Theater on February 24th 1876). 1868 Moves to Dresden, where the family lives for seven years. 1869 The League of Youth is published and given its first performance at Christiania Theater. Ibsen takes part in a meeting on Scandinavian spelling in Stockholm. Goes to Egypt and is present at the opening of the Suez Canal. 1870 Writes the poem "Ballongbrev til en svensk dame" ("Balloon Letter to a Swedish Lady"). 1871 Publishes a collection of poems (Digte) for the first and last time. 1872 A large part of Emperor and Galilean is written. 1873 Completes and publishes Emperor and Galilean. Is a member of an international art jury at the world exhibition in Vienna. 1874 Visits Norway (Christiania). Goes on to Stockholm. Publishes Lady Inger in a new version. 1875 Publishes Catiline in a new version. Moves to Munich, where he lives for three years. Writes the poem "Et rimbrev" ("A Rhyme-letter"). 1877 Pillars of Society written and first staged at Odense Teater. Awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Uppsala. 1878 Moves to Rome again and stays there for seven years except for several breaks. 1879 Writes and publishes A Dolls House, which is first staged at Det Kongelige (Royal) Teater in Copenhagen. 1881 Ghosts written and published (staged at the Aurora
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    Turner Hall in Chicago on May 20th 1882). 1882 An Enemy of the People written and published (first staging at Christiania Theater on January 13th 1883). 1883 Publishes The Feast at Solhoug in a new edition. 1884 Writes and publishes The Wild Duck (first staging at Den Nationale Scene in Bergen on January 9th 1885). 1885 Visits Norway (Christiania, Trondhjem, Molde and Bergen). Moves to Munich and stays there for six years. 1886 Writes and publishes Rosmersholm (first staging at Den Nationale Scene on January 17th 1887). 1887 Spends the summer in Northern Jutland (at Sæby). Goes on to Gothenburg, Stockholm and Copenhagen. 1888 Writes and publishes The Lady from the Sea (first performed at Hoftheater in Weimar and at Christiania Theater on the same day, February 12th 1889). 1889 Last summer in Gossensass. Gets to know Emilie Bardach. 1890 Writes and publishes Hedda Gabler (first performed at the Residenztheater in Munich on January 31st 1891). 1891 Returns to Norway and settles in Christiania. Meets Hildur Andersen. 1892 Writes and publishes The Master Builder (first performance at the Lessingtheater in Berlin on January 19th 1893). Sigurd Ibsen marries Bergliot Bjørnson. 1894 Writes and publishes Little Eyolf (first staged at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin on January 12th 1895). 1895 Moves into the apartment on the corner of Arbiensgate and Drammensveien in Christiania and stays there for the rest of his life. 1896 Writes and publishes John Gabriel Borkman (first performed simultaneously at Det svenske (Swedish) and Det finske (Finnish) Teater in Helsingfors on January 10th 1897). 1898 70th birthday - large-scale celebrations in Christiania, Copenhagen and Stockholm. 1899 Writes and publ ishes When We Dead Awaken (first staged at the Hoftheater in Stuttgart on January 26th 1900).
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    1900 Suffers his first stroke. 1906 Dies on May 23rd. 2.5 : HENRIK IBSEN: PLAYS Apart from publishing one collection of poetry, Henrik Ibsen has written twenty-six plays between 1850 and 1899. Ibsen's literary career may easily be divided into three periods, the first stretching from 1850 to 1877 and ending with the successful appearance of Pillars of Society. To the second period belong most of his plays of protest against social conditions, one being the famous Ghosts. The third is marked by symbolic plays like The Master Builder and When We Dead Awaken. The first of the prose plays, Love's Comedy (1862) made an impression in Norway but the playwright was considered to be a cynic. Ironically, it was Norway which, as stated, failed to recognize Ibsen's talent and he was at one point severely criticised for being flint-hearted. Plays like The League of Youth aroused such resentment all over that Pillars of Society, that established Ibsen as a playwright, had to have its opening first in Munich. The plays that followed proved that he was a playwright with a mission, out to attack the unacceptables or what may be termed as social or moral maladies. In the plays of the third period there are interesting symbols such as the wild duck, the mill race, the tower, or the open sea, and there is the suggestion that there will be a domain where the spirit, troubled by materialism, will find shelter Ibsen's dramatic works are often divided into four parts: 1. National-romantic and historical plays: Catiline to The Pretenders. 2. Dramas of ideas: Love 's Comedy, Brand, Peer Gynt and Emperor and Galilean 3. Realistic contemporary plays: Pillars of Society, A Doll 's House, Ghosts and An Enemy of the People 4. Psychological and symbolical dramas: The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm, The Lady from the Sea, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder, Little Eyolf, John Gabriel Borkman and When We Dead Awaken. Ibsen's primary concern is the middle class and life in the suburbs and small towns. He has focused more on characters and psychological conflicts rather than on dramatic situations. The brief summary of the plots of some of his highly acclaimed plays will be of help when a student wishes to make a comparative study of Ibsen's choice of themes, characters etc.
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    Ghosts (Original Title: Gengangere) (1881) The atmosphere is quite oppressive in the house of the widowed Mrs. Helene Alving whose husband, the base Captain Alving, was an alcoholic. He is the father of a son named Osvald and an illegitimate daughter Regine. Mrs. Alving, however, has taken care to conceal these sordid facts from all and his reputation in the community has been left untarnished. Helene comes in contact with Pastor Manders, a man she once loved and wanted to go away with. But Manders had rejected her and advised her to return to her debauched husband. Complications are many owing to secrets, mistaken identities, a fire that burns down Alving's house, Manders'wrong advice and so on. What requires special attention is Osvald' s disease, syphilis .He craves for an overdose of morphine since he cannot visualise leading the life of an invalid. Regine, loved by Osvald, leaves him once she learns that he is her step-brother. His mother tells him that he has inherited the venereal disease from his father and not because he has himself led a bohemian life in Paris and it is she who will have to decide which is better, her son's prolonged suffering or mercy killing. The play ends with Osvald's death. The London Daily Telegraph called the play "an open drain; a loathsome sore unbandaged; a dirty act done publicly; a lazar house with all its doors and windows open. " (Website 4) The audience was perhaps not mature enough to appreciate such a bold play that attacks nineteenth-century morality so mercilessly. An Enemy of the People (Enfolkefiende) (1882) In this play, based on a clash of values, Thomas Stockmann, a doctor, becomes the enemy of the people in his town because he wants their spa to be closed for a while for repair and rectification because the water has become polluted. Since the process is expensive and many interests will be hurt, he finds the town against him and the leader of the enraged mass is his own brother Peter Stockmann, the mayor and chief of police. Everyone turns against him and his family members and they lose their jobs and are even threatened with physical assault. As he realizes how mindless the people are, Dr. Stockmann gives up the idea of leaving his town and decides to stay back and fight and tutor the citizens to act and think freely and rationally. As is known, this play is in direct response to the hysteria caused by Ghosts and Ibsen has taken upon himself the task of exposing the ignorance of the community and the villainy of the leaders. To drive the point home are lines like, "A minority may be right; a majority is always wrong. "
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    The Wild Duck (Vildanden) (1884) The Wild Duck involves Hjalmar Ekdal, a photographer, his wife Gina, who was once housekeeper to man named Werle, and his daughter Hedvig. They seem happy and contented with their business and their family life. Some of these major characters meet at a dinner party. Werles' son Gregers suddenly comes to know that Gina was his father's mistress before her marriage. Gregers, who puts up with the Ekdals, takes upon himself the duty of revealing the secret to Gina' s husband Hjalmar so that they can, then onwards, live honestly as man and wife. Things take a turn for the worse because, after the revelation, Hedvig's legitimacy itself is doubted. Gregers tries to sort out matters by asking Hedvig, now rejected by her father, to shoot her favourite wild duck to show how much she loves him. Tragedy strikes as Hedvig shoots herself instead of the duck. This is grim play with darkness steadily descending on the Ekdal home. Rosmersholm (1886) The former clergyman Johannes Rosmer of Rosmersholm has lost his wife Beata who, thought to be mentally deranged, has drowned herself. Rebecca West, who has entered Rosmersholm as Beata's friend, now seems to have got into a relationship with Rosmer. What develops in between is hostility between Rosmer and his brother-in-law and friend Kroll as the latter does not approve of Rosmer's political agenda. Consequently, there is mud-slinging and Rebecca becomes a part of the tussle. She, however, rejects Rosmer's marriage proposal though she has fallen in love with him. It is her sense of guilt that makes her turn away as she had in the past wanted to exercise her control over Rosmer and for the purpose had also encouraged Beata's suicide. Rebecca learns a few truths about her parentage as well. Struck by remorse, the two drown themselves exactly where Rosmer' s wife had killed herself. The audience hears the horrified cry of the housekeeper Mrs. Helseth who is certain that the dead woman has claimed the two lives. In this play, personal problems of the protagonists, social and political change, ideological clashes and religious beliefs are all inter-connected. Hedda Gabler (1890) Hedda Tesman (neé Gabler) is married to JØrgen Tesman, a very ambitious man. The play opens apparently on a romantic note with the couple having returned from a honeymoon but soon the audience is shocked to hear that while the man worked on records there, the wife was bored to death. There are further complications. Hedda finds that she is pregnant and her husband realizes that his
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    rival for the chair in the University is Hedda's former friend Eilert Løvborg who, in spite of his love for the bottle, has done constructive academic work in collaboration with Thea Elvsted who has left her husband for him. What follows is a series of events including Ejlert losing his manuscript, Tesman finding it, Hedda asking Eilert to shoot himself with her father's pistol and being blackmailed by Judge Brack after Eilert's death. It is Hedda's tragedy as she watches her husband and Thea working and enjoying each other's company. Isolated, she finally shoots herself. Many scholars do not consider this play a high tragedy and Hedda a tragic heroine. 2.6 : SUMMING UP It is more than evident from the discussion in this Unit that Ibsen and many of his contemporaries were conscious of their surroundings, men and manners as well as social, moral and psychological problems arising out of a strong feeling of inequality, injustice, discrimination, alienation etc. Women too hold a place of importance in many of these plays and disturbing questions have been raised and much of what needs to be rectified, abolished or completely changed has been underlined. In fact, like his Lona Hessel of Pillars of Society, Ibsen would perhaps want to declare, "I want to let in some fresh air... " Against this backdrop I shall place Ibsen's A Doll 's House.
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    UNIT 3: A DOLL 'S HOUSE (Et dukkehjem) Structure: 3.0 Objectives 3.1 The Making of A Doll's House 3.2 A Doll's House-Storyline 3.3 Act Summary and Critical note 3.4 The Ending 3.5 Summing up 3.0: OBJECTIVES This section concentrates on Henrik Ibsen and A Doll's House only. In the earlier section some of Ibsen's post-1879 (the year A Doll's House was written) plays have been mentioned and gists of the plays have been provided. I repeat, that they need to be remembered when one studies this play. We shall now take a close look at A Doll's House , the history of its making, the story, the Acts so that when one proceeds to the next Unit consisting of a critical analysis of the play, assessment of themes and characters, one will find things easier to grasp because of one' s knowledge of the text. UNIT 3.1: THE MAKING OF A DOLL 'S HOUSE (ET DUKKEHJEM) In the year 1879, in Rome and Amalfi in Italy a play was being written in Norwegian for publication in the same year. Henrik Ibsen, the playwright, chose the title Et dukkehjem which translates almost as A Doll's House. History was being made because drama in Europe would never be the same again after theatre-goers were to witness this serious play set in Norway. As the play proceeds, one sees the unfolding of the story of Torvald and Nora Helmer along with the many ups and downs in their matrimonial relationship owing to certain actions/decisions etc. of not just the couple concerned but of others around them. TRUE STORY Behind every play is a story, witnessed by the playwright, read, heard or imagined by him. For his play, Ibsen got his plot and some of his characters from life. Just as his Lona Hessel was modelled on
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    the Norwegian activist Aasta Hansteen, Nora's story is based on the life of Laura, Laura Smith Petersen, Laura Kieler after her marriage to one Victor Kieler, a poor schoolmaster. She was known to Ibsen as the author of the novel Brands Daughters: a Picture of Life, some sort of a sequel to Ibsen's Brand and our dramatist got to know her husband as well. Unfortunately for Laura, Victor was struck with consumption in 1876 i.e. about three years before A Doll's House was written. As Ibsen's Nora would have to, Laura borrowed money, but from banks, for taking Victor to the warmer parts of Switzerland and Italy for his recovery .But as she sunk deeper into debts, Laura finally committed forgery for repayment as she had not been able to raise enough money from her writings to pay her banks. As Torvald Helmer would, Victor, who came to know of the 'crime' after recovery, accused his wife and demanded a divorce from such a corrupt woman who would be an evil influence on their children. Laura Kieler, no Nora, was unable to withstand the tremendous pressure on her nerves, the trauma and the stigma. At one point, she was also coerced into entering an asylum. As a family friend, Ibsen must have been aware of these sad happenings. He could not help her when she needed help but he must have been happy to see her recover, return to her husband, that too at his insistence. However, as Arabella Fermor, for other reasons though, had been unhappy with The Rape of the Lock even after Pope had artistically distanced art from life by introducing the Sylphs, Laura found it very difficult to exist as Ibsen's Nora. Accepting the identity would mean being frivolous, somewhat naive and encouraging. Naturally, tongues began to wag but, despite Laura's requests, Ibsen refrained from making any public declaration, verbal or written, and his silence, he expected, would be taken as his denial of any connection between the real and the fictive. First Edition The process of the writing of Ibsen's plays itself makes interesting reading. It took the twenty-one- year-old Ibsen three months in 1849 to write Catiline and presumably the first notes for it was written towards the end of 1848. The play was published on April 12, 1850. Five years later, on 20 March, 1875, the second edition was published but not without changes introduced by the playwright himself. The Burial Mound of 1853 had little resemblance to the 1850-play. Ibsen completed the new version of The Burial Mound with major changes.
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    The case of A Doll's House is not dissimilar. One full year before the publication of the play, Ibsen had outlined Nora's story in Preliminary Notes for the Tragedy of Modern Times, Rome, 19 October, 1878 but in it was a weaker Nora because her creator had accepted the 'truth' that in a world with laws made by men and for men, it is better for a woman to be seen but not heard. In the manuscripts Ibsen expresses his revolutionary ideas more directly but before the final version he had to strike a compromise and either leave some truths untold or opt deliberately for ambiguity that would keep everyone guessing about his intentions and inclinations. The first complete draft of the play began on 2 May, 1879 and it took the playwright a little over four months to give it shape as some changes were made that distanced it from the Preliminary Notes .lnterestingly, in the first two acts, Helmer is Thorvald Stenborg and Nora is Mrs. Stenborg. Ibsen was not quite satisfied with the earlier drafts and continued writing, rewriting and making changes. The final copy too was not left unaltered and finally in mid-September the manuscript of a play that was to make history was sent to Frederik Hegel from Amalfi. The additions were many ranging from the trivial like the macaroon-eating incident to the far more serious tarantella episode. And it is Nora who mainly undergoes significant changes, draft to draft. A Dolls House was published on 4 December, 1879 at Gyldendalske Boghandels Forlag (F. Hegel & SØn) in Copenhagen. The first 8000 copies were sold in a month's time and by 4 January, 1880 another 4000 copies were ready for sale and on 8 March another 2500 copies were published. This internationally acclaimed play was highly controversial, stirring debates, raising disputes, agitation etc.almost wherever it was performed. Reviews were many in number like Erik Vullum's in Dagbladet of 6 and 13 December, 1879 and Fredrik Petersen's in Aftenbladet on 9 and 10 January, 1880. Responses and reactions were mixed. First performance The first performance, a successful one, of A DollNs House took place at Det Kongelige (Royal) Teater in Copenhagen on 21 December, 1879.Under the direction of H.P. Holst, Betty Hennings and Emil Poulsen played Nora and Torvald, respectively. It took just about two months for the play to be performed all over Scandinavia. Thereafter, it was performed in Germany and other European countries. It soon became a fashion to translate A Doll's House and come up with remakes of any
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    quality. The sub-standard Weber translation in English was one such and readers in England had to wait till 1889 for a decent, unaltered translation by William Archer which Bernard Shaw too read. UNIT 3.2: STORY LINE A Doll's House tells the story of the Helmers.Torvald Helmer is a lawyer who has suddenly risen to the position of a bank manager. The protagonist of the play, in the true sense of the term, is his wife Nora who seems quite naive and is treated as a child by her husband who runs the house according to his wishes. He is a righteous man with fixed ideas and hates extravagance and the habit of running into debts. Little does he know that his wife has had to borrow a large sum of money, twelve thousand dollars, and also forge a document for his recovery from a serious illness. Two other people, Kristine Linde, Nora's friend, and Nils Krogstad, the money-lender, are aware of Nora's secret. Krogstad, an employee of the bank where Torvald will be the manager, blackmails Nora by threatening to disclose her secret to her husband if the latter dismisses him. There are further complications as Nora tries to extricate herself from the mesh. Kristine Linde, in an attempt to be philanthropic and to strengthen further the Torvald-Nora relationship, wants Torvald to know everything. Once the secret is out, a horrified Torvald turns away from Nora for, to him, she is nothing but a 'criminal ' who will pollute his home and destroy the future of his children. However, there is a twist in the story and Krogstad, about to get back his lost love Kristine, releases Nora from his grip. An overjoyed Torvald, finding that his reputation is no longer at stake, forgives Nora and wants her back. But Nora, who has seen her husband in his true colours, walks out of her home and perhaps out of her eight-year-old marriage. UNIT 3.3: A DOLL'S HOUSE : ACT SUMMARY The starting date of the first complete draft of the play is 2 May, 1879. The chart given below will show how the play was gradually shaped. (WEBSITE 5) Act 1 Act 2 Act 3 Starting date May 2nd June 4th July 18th Finishing date May 24th July 14th August 3rd
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    ACT ONE The opening Act is the most eventful and has on stage all the important characters of the play, On Christmas Eve, when preparations are on, a hurricane, as it were, hits the flat of the Helmers. On the one hand is a Christmas tree, packages and so on and on the other an approaching dark shadow that will soon dim the festive atmosphere. Much happens after the curtain rises. Nora, the protagonist, will be seen interacting with five adults , Torvald , her husband, Dr. Rank, a family friend and her admirer, Mrs. Kristine Linde, her friend and confidante, Krogstad, her would-be-blackmailer, and Anne Marie, mother figure to her and a nursemaid to her children. Her children too come on stage at one point to take her mind away from pressing problems for a while. This Act brings Nora into very sharp focus and there is much that the audience learns about her. It is evident from Act I that she can be secretive, can eat macaroons on the sly, spend more money than she should and be independent and submissive at the same time. In this Act the first to appear on stage is Nora and there is a porter carrying a Christmas tree. Even before the entry of her husband Torvald, we sense a little artificiality in their relationship. Even after he makes his appearance he pets and pampers his wife, his "skylark", his "squirrel", treats her like a mindless doll, admonishes her mildly and then gifts a little money to keep her quiet and happy. She too surrenders to him after a mild argument with the words, "Very well, just as you say, Torvald." (111) The topic of discussion and conflict is money which Nora wants in plenty. The audience learns that there was a time when there were financial constraints in the Helmer home but as Torvald has become a bank manager, they will be much more comfortable financially thenceforth. As there will be more money, the Helmers can now look back without bitterness and regret. It is clear that as far as conventional morality is concerned, Nora is more lax and 'liberal' where as Torvald is more of a puritan, hating debts and disliking extravagance of any sort. As husband and wife converse, gender consciousness too is more than visible. Torvald explains everything as the outcome of her womanliness. One hears the egoistic male say, "Nora, Nora! Just like a woman!"(111)Torvald is a male megalomaniac wanting his wife to make and keep his home and also add colour to it but with her beauty only. Things will not be to Torvald's liking if his wife proves to be a thinking element as well. Beauty without brains is what he finds convenient. Nora too conforms to the male-female divide by buying a sword and a horse and a trumpet for her boys and a doll and a doll's cot for her daughter. There is, till this point, no trace of the future rebel. But, if one were to look closely one would see not
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    one but two Noras, one hidden from view as far as her husband is concerned. Torvald is certain that his wife may want to save money but she "simply can't" where as to Kristine Nora opens her heart with, "Whenever Torvald gave me money for new clothes and such-like, I never spent more than half'. (123) Into this Helmer domain enters Dr. Rank, an old friend and a victim of a wasting disease. The other character that comes in is Nora's old friend Kristine Linde, now a widow and desperately in need of a job for her husband has left her "nothing at all". Kristine tells Nora that she had to take upon her shoulders the burden of her mother and young brothers. Nora seems insensitive to her old friend's woes and can think of nothing beyond their own good luck. From her Kristine learns that the Helmers' fortune has changed for the better but there was a time when Nora too had to work for raising money to take her husband to Italy for treatment and recovery. Act I is an Act of discovery and herein Kristine learns how Nora has borrowed money without Torvald's knowledge for, as the latter explains, he would feel humiliated if he thought he owed his wife anything. She tells Kristine that her husband is still under the impression that the required financial assistance has been provided by Nora's father. However, she has been working and paying off and the following year she will be free from the burden of debt. Kristine must know all about the "really big thing", Nora decides, because she too probably feels that Nora is "useless when it comes to anything really serious.. (120) Nora does not narrate this tale of the past without a sense of pride for it is a proof of her own capability. The next to enter is Krogstad, known to both Nora and Kristine. Dr. Rank comes out of the study into which Krogstad enters and his comment on the former's moral depravity is significant. This man, a widower, is also an employee in Torvald's bank. Soon three characters, Torvald, Dr. Rank and Kristine, go out leaving Nora alone on stage. Anne Marie's entry with Nora's three children lightens the atmosphere somewhat. Nora looks at the little ones and exclaims, "My, what red cheeks you've got! Like apples and roses.' (130) And then mother and children are allowed to enjoy themselves by playing a game but only for a while because of the untimely entry of Krogstad who comes in unannounced and makes Nora scream in terror. The innocent game of hide-and-seek is not just rudely disrupted but also replaced by an adult game
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    involving concealments and disclosure. A scared Nora asks Krogstad, "You wouldn't go and tell my husband I owe you money? "(134) For her, it's more than a simple dilemma. She will have to request her husband, as asked by Krogstad, not to dismiss him from service. She will succeed, predicts Krogstad, for "married men" get easily "swayed". But, if Nora fails, Krogstad will tell him two truths, one that his wife has borrowed money from him for his recovery and that in the IOU she has forged her father's signature. The strong-principled Helmer will not pardon her and the marriage will break. In desperation, Nora promises that she will repay the loan but Krogstad wants the job back for what he, a man with a 'past' , needs is respectability for his growing sons and the bank job can give him just that. What follows in the long opening act is a clash of values. Nora is shown as secretive; she lies even about macaroons, shifts blame on to Kristine's shoulders deceives her husband and has in the past also forged her father's signature. Against her, Ibsen places the rigid Torvald who will not yield an inch. To him a crime is a crime and he is interested neither in the circumstance nor in the motive because to him, once a criminal, always a criminal. Krogstad repels him and about his old school friend Torvald has this to say, "I quite literally feel physically sick in the presence of such people", (141) Torvald will not pay any heed to Nora's recommendations and pleas. If anything needs to be specially noted, it is Torvald's inflated male ego and arrogance that clouds his vision. To him it is an axiomatic truth that nearly all young criminals come "from homes where the mother is dishonest." (141) This the mother finds rather difficult to swallow and the Act ends with a disbelieving Nora trying to visualize herself as the polluter of the Helmer home. The multi-segmented opening Act simmers with undercurrents of fear, tension, anxiety as problems pile up to make the atmosphere oppressive. It may be Christmas Eve, Nora may be playing with her children but there is no denying the fact that all is not well and nothing is what it seems to be. In this scene one notices the coming together of the insufferably patronizing male, the secretive female, a revengeful outsider, a silent admirer and a new visitor who suddenly gains importance after coming to know a closely-guarded secret. Many questions are raised. Is Nora the "child" that she is made out to be? Is Torvald actually a disciplinarian and a man of values or is he a prejudiced male chauvinist? Has Krogstad been more sinned against? Does Mrs. Linde, in a veiled manner, enjoy Nora's discomfiture having risen above her in spite of Nora's "pots and pots of money"? Can Torvald's gender pride and consciousness be held responsible for Nora's disastrous secrecy? The major characters perform
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    according to the design of the playwright and as they do, they reveal the many layers of their personality, the many shades, both bright and dark, of their characters. ACT TWO It is Christmas day. But the tree hangs limp and desolate, packages lie open and there is not a thing to remind one of Christmas merry-making. Rather, happenings of last evening have left Nora uncertain, confused and scared. She quells her own fears with, "He didn't mean it seriously. Things like that can 'i happen. It's impossible. Why, I have three small children." (143) The conversation between Nora and Anne Marie, nanny to her and also to her children, takes us back to Nora's childhood and as they talk the 'mother 'is discussed and discussed ironically at a time when Nora can lose her own children. Her feeling of security has been shaken and she asks Anne Marie, "Do you think they would forget their Mummy if she went away for good? "(144) After the heavy conversation of the previous evening, they discuss a fancy-dress party and the costume. Mrs. Linde too is on stage and she leaves for a while to mend the dress. But ere she leaves, the two friends discuss Dr. Rank and the audience learns how he ill he is and that he is suffering for his father's loose life. Kristine is surprised to know that, in spite of their closeness, he has lent Nora no money and she explains that neither did he have any money nor did she ever ask him for a loan. As in Act I, here too Nora argues, coaxes, offers unacceptable suggestions to make her husband change his decision of replacing Krogstad at the bank and recruiting Kristine instead. Desperately she pleads, "Yes, yes, you must listen to me. You must let Krogstad keep his job at the bank." (149) Just how status-conscious and high-handed Torvald is, may be understood from the fact that he cannot stand Krogstad's familiarity even though they had been in school together. He finds the man "extremely irritating", more so because he writes in "all the nastiest papers". Torvald is not angry because Krogstad has written against Nora's father and he even tells Nora superciliously that her father's "professional conduct is not entirely above suspicion." (150) This man cannot accept the truth that it is human to err and circumstances may compel one to transgress. Instead, with insufferable arrogance, in answer to Nora's plea of not sending the dismissal letter, he summons the maid and orders it to be delivered without delay. A distraught Nora can only cry. "Get it back, Torvald... You don't realize what it can do to us." (151) Totally ignorant of Nora's 'past', Torvald dismisses Krogstad from his mind and takes Nora in his arms. Terrified, Nora thinks of appealing to Dr. Rank who comes in after Torvald leaves the room.
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    For a while, attention shifts to Dr. Rank who, on entry, tells his tale of woe and mentions his approaching end with, "Within a month I shall probably be lying rotting up there in the churchyard."(153). It is somewhat morbid to hear that he will leave behind a calling card with a black cross across it to indicate that . the horrible disintegration has begun".(153).However, at the same time he professes his love for Nora and confesses that he can die for her. This creates an immediate distance and Nora, who was seen flirting with him purposefully by showing him her flesh-coloured stockings and perhaps more, can no longer ask for his help, making it clear that on the question of loyalty and fidelity she will remain above board. So, with an air of finality, Nora says, "I can tell you nothing now." (157) Next, like a blast of wind, comes Nils Krogstad, desperate and determined. The die has been cast and for Nora it is an impossible situation that makes her think of running away or worse. Krogstad has been fired. He accuses Nora of either not having enough influence on her husband or for not having tried sincerely enough because husbands are generally pliable. He is in a revengeful mood and is more strongly resolved to twist her arm. Demands increase. Nils Krogstad will no longer be happy with a reinstatement; he wants a higher post and he declares, "It'll be Nils Krogstad, not Torvald Helmer, who'll be running that Bank". (162) Nora will have to make the impossible possible. She cannot escape, threatens Krogstad, even if she were to commit suicide. It is at this point that Nora gathers the courage to tell Nils, "You'll never live to see that day." (162) Krogstad's exit is followed by an important entry. Mrs. Linde comes in and hears Nora's cry that the damage has been done and that in their letter box Krogstad has dropped the incriminating letter addressed to Torvald. The evidence of her guilt is lying there for her husband to see the first time he opens the letter box. It is then that Mrs. Linde exclaims, "Nora! It was Krogstad who lent you the money." (163) It is time for further revelations. Kristine learns about the forged signature and as Nora prays for a miracle, to her surprise, Kristine tells her friend that as she was once close to Krogstad, she will make a final attempt to save Nora. The play has reached a point where Nora gets more and more entangled in her own secrets and her entire effort now is to keep Torvald away from the letter box, as Kristine has advised. It is somewhat pathetic to see her trying to keep Torvald inside the room by rehearsing the tarantella. She makes him play the piano till Dr. Rank takes over and dances in a frenzy as if her life depends on it. Torvald can only shout, "Not so fast! Not so fast!" (166) How desperate she seems as she makes Torvald promise
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    not to touch the letter box before the party is over with, "You mustn't think about anything else but me until after tomorrow... mustn't open any letters... mustn't touch the letter-box." (167). Nora has to buy time.Helmer, however, suspects that a letter has arrived from Krogstad. Nora learns from Kristine that Krogstad has gone out of town and that she has left a note for him. In spite of her mental anguish, Nora tries to calm down. The audience will perhaps be a little surprised to see her calculate that she is safe till the tarantella is over and so she has exactly thirty-one hours "to live". And with studied jollity she runs into her husband's arms. This Act raises an important question. Once again we ask, isn't Torvald equally responsible for Nora's suffering? Had he not been a male egoist, Nora would not have had to conceal anything from him. One learns about this orthodox male who wants his wife to be a beautifully designed "showpiece". He doesn't like the sight of his wife with a needle and thread in her hand because it is her duty to make the home seem warm and cosy and visually attractive by looking pretty and not indulging in poor, prosaic deeds. At the same time, Torvald Helmer is critical. He sounds like a schoolmaster as he comments on Nora' s dance and also has unpleasant things to say about her father. Of the characters brought on stage, Nora develops the most through experience, trials, fear and anxiety. Torvald, relentless and stern, appears a 'flat' character, somewhat annoying for his attitude. He may shower affection on his pretty wife but there is little sincerity in this man who looks upon women as mere dolls, mindless and emotionless. It may also be noted that Nora's feelings for her husband is undergoing a significant change, much to the latter's disadvantage. In this Act, Dr. Rank seems pitiable and Krogstad leaves one confused for it is not so easy to slot him as 'evil' and rotten. When Nora explains that Dr. Rank's poor health is because of his father's promiscuity, for the second time we come across the idea that one is rotten genetically. The Act ends on a deceptively romantic note with Torvald embracing Nora but the air crackles with tension for ,as one knows, the letter is waiting to be discovered and what its impact will be on the Torvald Nora relationship is at this point a matter of pure conjecture. ACT THREE The third and final Act of a three-act play cannot but provide space for more complications and either a resultant disaster or disentanglement, depending on the category to which the concerned play belongs. Hence, as expected, there is a sense of hurry, the hurry to tie up loose ends.
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    This time, in the sitting room of the Helmers, the first meeting is between two people who are not in- mates of the Helmer household. At the background one hears dance music but it does not have the effect expected because so much still hangs in the balance.Krogstad hurries in on receiving Kristine's note and hears her say, "We have a great deal to talk about." (170) As they talk, Krogstad understands why she had left him. Offering an explanation for her unethical decision, Kristine expresses the desire to look after Krogstad and his motherless children. She says openly, "We two need each other." (171). For a while, the Helmers are forgotten as the two decide to reconstruct their future but, ironically, at a time when the Helmer home is close to collapse. Once a goal is in sight, Krogstad undergoes a change of heart and sighs, "Oh! If only I could undo what I've done!" (173). He has no more ill feelings towards the Helmers and wants to take the letter away before it is read but to his surprise and that of the audience, Kristine says, "No, Nils, don't ask for it back." (174) Nora's secret must be disclosed. "All this secrecy and deception, it just can't go on." (174) Krogstad is no longer vicious. Like a young boy in love, this man, now so much more human, cries, "I've never been so incredibly happy before." (174) As soon as she finds herself alone with Nora, Kristine assures her that Krogstad will no longer trouble them. But her advice to Nora is that she should make a clean chit of everything and that there should be no secrets between a husband and his wife. "Nora... you must tell your husband everything" (176), says Kristine but it is an advice that Nora does not find acceptable for Torvald is made of different stuff. And upon every entry he himself highlights his arrogance and lack of consideration. Hear him complain about the tarantella being "prosaic", hear him interfere in matters not his concern and hear him tell Kristine that she should embroider and not knit because knitting is an "ugly" process. However, for a while Torvald does tell Nora that there are moments when he wishes to pretend that the two "are secretly in love", that he is her young bride and they are going home for the first time and he adds that as he watched her dance passionately, his "blood was on fire" .(178) He calls Nora his "treasured possession", completely and utterly his. Nora finds his advances unpleasant but to the husband, his wife is his woman to be used as he wills. That Torvald is somewhat emotionless is clear when Dr. Rank enters and indicates to Nora that he is just a few steps away from death. "At the next
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    masquerade, I shall be invisible", says the man. (180) It may be noted that he does not confide in his friend Torvald for he too knows the difference between the two. Finally, Torvald proceeds towards the letter-box to empty it and discovers that the box has been tampered with Nora's hairpin. She holds the children responsible for such playfulness and somehow saves the situation. When the box is opened, they find two of Dr.Rank's visiting cards with black crosses indicating that he has gone to die. How Torvald reacts to this is to be noted. Dr. Rank, his friend for years, is soon forgotten as he wants Nora in his arms. The shocked Nora cannot comprehend how he can caress his wife, "Knowing all the time" that his "friend is dying... "(182) He even fantasizes how he will feel if Nora were to fall sick and he has to risk his all to nurse her back to health. Torvald has no feelings for the ailing Dr. Rank and dismisses from his mind the ugly .thoughts of death and decay." But, when with a "Goodnight, my little singing bird. Sleep well '(182), Torvald enters his room to read the letters, Nora seizes Helmer's cloak, wraps it Nora... ' around her and whispers,"Oh, that black icy water. Oh that bottomless. ! If only it were all over!' (183) She is desperate and wishes to end her life but she is not so fortunate. Almost immediately, an enraged Torvald storms into the room shouting, "Miserable woman... what is this you have done?" (183) Furious, he cries, .. this woman who was my pride and joy... a hypocrite, a liar, worse than that, a criminal !" (183) To him Nora is now an unclean thing that repels him. Torvald cannot stop showering accusations and as he thunders, "All your father's irresponsible ways are coming out in you. No religion, no morals, no sense of duty... " (184), Nora can do no more than stare fixedly at the stranger before her. When he continues with his vituperation, she says, "When I've left this world behind, you will be free." (184). To the man this is sheer melodrama. It needs to be noted that in this moment of crisis, Torvald can think only of his own reputation." The thing must be hushed up at all costs" (184), the man decides and pronounces a sentence on Nora without giving her any hearing. She will have to sever all connection with her children for she can no longer be trusted with them. Nothing appeals to Torvald, he sees no reason and everything that Nora says or does is "playacting' As things seem to reach a breaking point, as if by a miracle, a note arrives for Nora. Krogstad has returned the IOU. Torvald, who reads the note, is beside himself with joy and relief. With the cry, "I'm saved! Nora, I'm saved!" (185), he tears the papers and feeds the pieces into the fire. Having erased the past, as it were, he turns his attention to his wife and with an insufferable male complacency
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    says' ... let's forget the whole ghastly thing. We can rejoice and say: It's all over! It's all over." (185) In his elation Torvald fails to see that actually all is over between him and Nora, as Nora's words will show. He tells Nora that they can now forget the past as a "bad dream". He has forgiven her for he understands how much she loved him and how helpless she was. So now, he and his "frightened little song-bird" can live their fairy-tale life all over again. He assures Nora that she will be safe and secure under his wings. Then Nora speaks. Very slowly she utters the words, "We two have a lot to talk about." (187). Husband and wife will have to talk seriously for the first time in their eight-year-old married life. An astounded Torvald hears his wife say, "I've been greatly wronged, Torvald.First by my father and then by you. "(188). She tells her husband a few home truths of how their marriage has been a hollow sham and that she has never known what real marital bliss is because she has always danced to his tune. Torvald cannot but accept the accusation but his attempts to make amends are not to Nora's liking. She can never accept a man like Torvald as her mentor nor is she equipped to tutor her children so she needs to face her own self first and that too away from her home. For the first time she pays no heed to Torvald's commands, requests , pleas, his attempts to make her stay and perform her wifely duties. Nora is now conscious of the Self, of her own identity. As husband and wife converse, more bitter truths are revealed. The man, for a change, is at the receiving end and is plainly told how short of expectations he has fallen and how he has not been able to discharge his "sacred duties" as a husband. Nora is now merciless and without cringing she tells Helmer, "You're not the man to help me... That' s something I must do on my own." (189) Torvald shouts, on hearing that she is leaving, "I won't let you! I forbid you!" but Nora pays no heed and the man realizes with a shock that Nora too has the right to reject him and that she is determined to exercise that right. Nora prepares to set out on a journey to find herself. She may be violating social norms but she says, "I must try to discover who is right, society or me". (191) Without a tremor in her voice, Nora tells Torvald, "I don't love you any more." (191) She has realized that after eight years of married life, they are still strangers. The man 's absurd offer of living under the same roof as brother and sister is rejected outright by Nora and then to sever all connection she not only returns the wedding ring but also takes back hers and hands over the house keys as well. She will not meet the children and absolves Torvald of all financial responsibility. "There must be full freedom on both sides", says Nora, refusing to accept any help from a "stranger". She gives Torvald no reason to believe that she will return for she
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    does not "believe in miracles any more." (194). As Torvald cries, "Nora! Nora!", the wife walks out closing the door behind her forcefully. The slam is, as it were, the final signature annulling the marriage. UNIT 3.4: THE ENDING Very few plays have raised the kind of tempest that A Doll's House has since its publication and the first performance in 1879. The play has since then been staged all over Europe in different languages versions, with alterations and omissions, new titles ranging from the plain English translation Nora to the American The Child Wife. The main target of most theatre-goers and readers, however, has been the ending of the play. Reactions were at their worst in Germany for the German translation of the play so infuriated the audience that Ibsen was literally forced to provide the "alternative" ending with Helmer and Nora making it up and living as a happy couple. Not that introducing alterations was anything new. In the past, Nahum Tate did bring Romeo and Juliet together, did marry Cordelia off to Edgar, but compelling a playwright to rewrite the end was a different thing altogether. The Indian audience will remember how there was an enraged cry for a happy ending for the trend-setter film Sholay and how Manmohan Deasi had to re-shoot his Coolie to raise the superhero Amitabh Bachchan from the dead as he had just registered a victory over death in real life by recovering after a severe abdominal injury. Fortunately, outside Germany, A Doll's House with Ibsen's alternative ending, was perhaps staged only once in Sweden. Nora's slam reverberated through many a male chauvinists' consciousness hitting and puncturing the inflated male ego. The slam which in Shaw's words was more ear-splitting than Waterloo cannons was no less than a trumpet call announcing the end of patriarchy. In an open letter to the Danish newspaper Nationaltidende, dated 17 February 1880, Ibsen gave an account of his alternative version. One may very well imagine what a playwright, who, as admitted, had written the entire play for the sake of the last scene only, must have felt when it was under attack. To prevent interpolations he himself made changes that he considered a "barbaric act of violence", a disfiguring of his play. If this was not enough, to appease German theatre-goers, an unauthorized fourth act was added with an irritable Nora, saddled with her fourth child. She is seen pushing a
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    creamy macaroon into her mouth. Her grumpiness disappears as the cookie melts and she savours the taste. One is left wondering whether any other play in the history of European drama has had such a sock in the face. Patriarchy demands female subservience and any attempt at retaliation amounts to rebellion which is considered unfeminine, hence unethical. Not only did the play and the playwright come in for harsh criticism but also the actresses who dared to play Nora, faced censure. Too life-like, as it was then considered, Ibsen's play disappointed many. Hence, the mixed reaction. On 24 December, 1879, M.V.Brun, a reviewer, shocked by the ending wrote:" I ask openly: is there a mother among thousands of mothers, a wife among thousands of wives, who would act as Nora acts, who would leave husband and children and home so she herself first and foremost can become "a human being"? And I answer most decidedly: No, absolutely not! There is not. .. a single point which justifies her action, and the transformation of her character, which the playwright forces to happen, is so untruthful, unattractive and unmotivated, that we are surprised that a playwright like Ibsen will admit paternity." (Website 6) Fortunately for Ibsen, his play was not threatened with a ban that would have done the literary world much damage. But the play was discussed. Some found it scandalous, some depressing, some too bold and unrealistic (for real women did not rebel), some most engaging and revolutionary. In fact, its reputation rose and fell so consistently and people had so much to say that, for a time, the request, "Please do not discuss A Doll's House" had to be printed on invitation cards. (McFarlane 1970:228) Given below is the altered ending that Ibsen had to include: NORA. ... Where we could make a real marriage out of our lives together. Goodbye. [Begins to go.] HELMER. Go then! [Seizes her arm.] But first you shall see your children for the last time ! NORA. Let me go! I will not see them! I cannot! HELMER [draws her over to the door, left]. You shall see them. [Opens the door and says softly.] Look, there they are asleep, peaceful and carefree. Tomorrow, when they wake up and call for their mother, they will be - motherless. NORA [trembling]. Motherless... !
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    HELMER. As you once were. NORA. Motherless! [Struggles with herself lets her travelling bag fall, and says.] Oh, this is a sin against myself, but I cannot leave them. [Half sinks down by the door.] HELMER [joyfully, but softly]. Nora! [The curtainfalls.] (Website 7) The audience was not prepared for the sledge-hammer effect of the play and ever since A Doll's House was first published, it has invited debates and controversy. In the twentieth century, the impact of the play was truly international and Nora has come to be accepted and also hailed as the representative of all women fighting their own battle for liberation and equality. UNIT 3.5: SUMMING UP Here , in this Unit, in focus are the 'externals' of the play and attempt has been made to provide information on the shaping of the three-act play named A Doll's House. The 'storyline' will give you some idea of the content of the play even before you approach it critically. Equally significant is the act-wise break up which will be of help to all students who can now visualize what was enacted on stage. The mention of the ups and downs and the changes, reputation-wise, can come to one's aid in realizing the impact of the play on the audience of Ibsen's time and now. The play could neither be accepted without reservations nor could it be ignored, for the fact remains that even now it is impossible for any one to be completely indifferent to Ibsen whether he admires the playwright or is critical of his stand.
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    UNIT 4: CRITICAL ESTIMATE: THE PLAY AND THE CHARACTERS Structure: 4.0 Objectives 4.1 Critical Analysis of the Play 4.2 Male Characters: Torvald Helmer, Nils Kristine Krogstad and Dr. Rank 4.3 Female Characters: Nora, Mrs. Linde and Anne-Marie 4.4 Minor Characters 4.5 Summing Up UNIT 4.0: OBJECTIVES A text speaks and invites listeners to hear its many voices and understand what lies veiled. Hence, the practice of analysing a play to see what it has to convey. So, I begin with a critical analysis that may highlight what needs to be specially noted. The characters too need to be brought into sharper focus for they give the play its meaning through their actions, speeches, gestures, thoughts etc. And it is not only the major characters that demand such attention. The not-so-important men and women, no matter how brief their appearance may be, too contribute in some way to the play UNIT 4. 1: CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE PLAY It is impossible to ignore any play of the stature of A Doll's House. Hence, through ages it has been performed, discussed, praised and criticised. Multi-dimensional, it demands special attention and refuses to be easily and simply described, analysed and/or categorized. How much time it has taken Henrik Ibsen to give this ambitious and daring project its final shape has already been discussed. Moreover, in the earlier units we have taken a look at some of the different kinds of plays that were staged in nineteenth-century Europe around the time Henrik Ibsen had taken to play writing seriously. So, exactly where do we place Ibsen's A Doll 's House? Is it a romantic prose drama? Perhaps not, mainly because of the absence of exaggerated settings and emotional excesses. Instead, here, romance is shattered and as Shaw's Sergius in Arms and the Man would later say, the Helmers too could have lamented that marriage is a hollow sham like love. Helmer is no knight ready to die for his lady even if he so fantasizes and Nora too realizes, though too late, that her god has clay feet. So, before Shaw's Raina in Arms and the Man she could have exclaimed what sort of a God she
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    had been worshipping. As the play progresses, one notices the visible fading of what little romantic colour there is. Nils and Kristine come together but there is no exuberance for this is not a play which like The League of Youth ends with optimistic newly-engaged couples. On the other hand, this is no ordinary melodrama with good pitted against evil, with the hero/heroine involved in open clashes with the villain, mainly because here there is no villain like an lago or an Edmund. Nils Krogstad may seem an ogre determined to ruin the Helmers but the man is actually a normal fallible mortal who was once a transgressor himself but now wants to make amends for the well being of his own children. Moreover, he is one who, on getting back his lost love, Kristine, releases Nora from his grip. Yet, unfortunately, happiness is not for the Helmers because the canker is in the blossom itself. Their marriage, Krogstad or no Krogstad, has always remained precariously balanced on the edge of a precipice. Fortunately or unfortunately, Nora realizes the truth too late. Too late does she tell the husband she has all along idealised, . you neither think nor talk like the man I would want to share my life with." (192) Should we then look for features of the Scribean well-made play in A Doll's House? If we do, our search will not prove fruitless. The play has it all, the beginning at a middle point, more plots than one, an air of suspense throughout and the attempt not to let the tempo slacken. Other features like irony, crisis etc. too remind one of the well-made play but the similarities stop at a point as Ibsen busies himself with more serious issues, encourages significant discussions and journeys into the mind of man and into human consciousness. After watching a performance of A Doll 's House, after noting the laughter and the fun as well as the tension and the tears, one may wish to ask whether the content is tragic or comic or tragi-comic or none of these? Well, even though there is no conventional 'happy' ending, this is no tragedy in the right sense of the word; no blood is shed, no one dies and complications do not reach a point of no return. Nora does think of suicide but gives up the idea long before the play closes. Finally, though she refuses to lap up what Torvald very generously doles out, the possibility of a return, some day, sometime, cannot be absolutely ruled out. Can A Doll 's House then be termed a comedy? It could be, if we could be certain that Nora would return and that there would be something at least like the Jimmy Porter-Alison patch-up in John Osborne's Look Back in Anger. Or if we were to believe with
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    Weigand that Nora would return for her very act of leaving was highly comic! Is it then a Philaster, a tragi-comedy, in which when things get so complicated that death seems just a step away and then by a miracle the sun comes out from behind the dark cloud? No, it is not because here when light is about to reappear as Torvald opens his arms wide for Nora, it is she who, on her own, blots out the sun. It is known that Ibsen has been more in favour of writing problem plays than propaganda drama and that in A Doll 's House he brings on stage 'ordinary' men with his common 'human' problems. And the fact remains that what has kept the play still alive is the nature of the problems presented. Its appeal is universal for, as long as human civilization will exist, marriage and marital relationships will remain susceptible to both dents and breakages. Money or 'filthy lucre' will continue souring relationships and men and women will continue fighting for their own identity and their own space. Then, may we call A Doll's House a realistic play with characters behaving as men do in real life? Perhaps we may, notwithstanding the fairy-tale opening with a Christmas tree, gift packages, macaroons, romantic moments and so on. And what, we may legitimately question, is the actual distance between the fictive on stage and the real in society in A Doll's House? The story of the real- life Laura Kieler has already been narrated. Let us also remember at this stage that Ibsen is a playwright who had once declared, "The main thing for me has been to depict human beings.. (McFarlane 1970: 127) So, we may take the Helmer residence to be a real home wherein resides two individuals who make futile attempts to live as dolls in a make-believe world and manage to do so but only till reality knocks sharply. At the same time we may describe it as a naturalistic play as well, holding up to view the heredity-environment juxtaposition, patriarchy, materialism, social problems, injustice and baseness and of course ideological differences. As is only too well known, Bernard Shaw has directed our attention to the 'discussion' in this play in The Quintessence of Ibsenism. As already stated, Ibsen's purpose was to hold problems up to view, let his characters get caught in a net, as it were, and then watch the workings of the human mind in these difficult times. In this connection it may also be noted that A Doll's House does not include long and well-drawn out discussions of the kind that we have, say, between Hector Frome and Harold Cleaver in the Trial Scene in Galsworthy' s Justice.
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    How about labelling A Doll's House a feminist play? Well, when the play opens, the audience finds itself transported to a fairyland where a man and a woman are as close as cooing doves and the wife is being treated like Dresden china. However, excess of any kind raises suspicion and Helmer's syrupy words may leave the audience a little apprehensive more so if they stop to think if it is at all possible for a man to give his wife, a woman, so much space? Or, is she kept on a leash, all the while, and he is certain that his grip is so tight that in spite of the indulgence and the pampering, he can stall her movements as and when he wills it? For a study of the play from this particular angle, Unit 6 section 3 will have to be consulted. The impact that the play has had on its readers may be understood from the extent to which A Doll 's House has been dissected, analysed and commented upon. The play is still read and viewed from different angles. So, if Eric Bentley considers it a thesis play, Elaine Hoffman Baruch sees in it elements of the allegory while R.M. Adams is strong in his conviction that the gender issue is not Ibsen's primary concern in this play. In a more recent book entitled Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism: Art, Theater, Philosophy published in August 2006, the Norwegian theorist Toril Moi has argued against the refusal to accept Ibsen as a modernist. At 6.30 p.m. on 21 September 2010, in The Arts Club of Washington, Washington D.C. there was a reading of A Doll's House and Cecilie Løveid. ' s Sea Gull Eaters followed by an interactive session. The play continues to be discussed. May we describe A Doll 's House as a 'discovery' play? That the play is an eye-opener, not just for the audience but also for the characters involved, cannot be denied. There is so much to learn and realize and each lesson contributes to one's mental development and maturity. It is one of the most compact of plays , adhering to the Unities of Time, Place and Action, where nothing happens that is not in anyway associated with the lives of the Helmers.There isn't a single major character who is not a part of the Nora-Torvald story. As the play moves, the characters within and the audience outside get shaken by a series of discoveries. Nora's secret, Dr. Rank's disease, Krogstad-Kristine relationship, Torvald's true nature and above all Nora's determination, nothing remains hidden from view and each revelation in a way adds to the interest of the play and enriches it as well. The play is gripping to say the least but the tension is not the one associated with the end of a chilling thriller. Here, it is the question of ethics and what remains uncertain is the fate of a family and the future not just of the married couple but also of three small children, two boys and a girl still in her doll-playing stage. For the cracks in their relationship to show up, two figures from the past appear without any intimation,
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    almost startling Nora into the awareness that play time is over. And then onwards, we move towards morbidity and gloom. Dr. Rank with his congenital syphilis contracted from a lecherous father, comes, talks of death in a code language and goes out, leaving behind the stink of death that will remind a modern reader of the musty room in Joyce' s Araby. Is any one happy in this play, we would like to question? All seems well in the Nora and Helmer relationship at the beginning. What else can one think of with a 'child wife' and an indulgent husband of the first half of the opening Act? But the bright colour runs out leaving the ugly insides of their relationship pathetically exposed. Helmer discovers that all his dreams of being Nora's protector can never be put into action and Nora discovers a stranger in her husband of eight years. She stands alone, isolated. The wife, who had once told Kristine that if her husband came to know about the loan, it would spoil everything and her "happy home... would never be the same again" (123), now realizes that there has never been a happy home. But as long as the illusion has lasted, Nora has tried her utmost to keep the man happy and contented. Few plays have such a moving situation as the one where Nora makes desperate attempts to save her marriage by concealing the letter. The tarantella that she dances wildly is tragic as well for the attempt to attract her husband and take him away from the letter-box. She puts her heart and soul into the performance but all she gets by way of appreciation from the man is, "You've forgotten everything I've taught you" (167). With an air of superiority he also adds, "Well, some more instruction is certainly needed there. "(167) Still, as the alternative ending proves, it could have been possible for any playwright to devise a happy one and show Nora and Helmer burying the past and moving ahead, together. But, as Ibsen himself said, it would have been 'barbaric' and unconvincing. It has taken Helmer no time to cast away a wife and then again it takes him no time to sweep the dirt under the carpet when he is convinced that there is not a speck of dust on his spotless white shirt. With insufferable complacency the man then consoles his wife," I shall give you all the advice and guidance you need. I wouldn't be a proper man if I didn't find a woman doubly attractive for being so obviously helpless." (186) How can one expect a wife like Nora to accept this dominating egoist? So, it is Nora who says the last words. She is the one who judges and her verdict is that she can no longer live a lie and be a partner in a marriage that is no marriage. She thus leaves her home, husband
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    and children. But no matter what kind of a cry the end raised, playwrights like William Archer and Bernard Shaw hailed Ibsen for the way he handled the closing moments of the play, placed the problem for public viewing and let the audience see the working of the 'real' human mind . It is this 'discussion' scene that gives this play its life and leaves the end open. Whether Nora will return some day or not is matter of pure conjecture but it is more than evident that for now she wants to be with herself. The primary concern, in her own words, now is "My duty to myself' (190) Still, even though central to this play is the family and familial relationships, it would be unwise to read A Doll's House as a plain 'domestic tragedy' because that would mean over-simplifying things. Rather, we may look upon it as a play where Ibsen brings issues like marriage and marital relationship on stage. Certain important social questions have been addressed and in spite of the uncertain ending Nora will remain an icon for oppressed women fighting for their rights and equality. UNIT 4.2: MALE CHARACTERS: TORVALD HELMER, KROGSTAD AND DR. RANK Characters in this three-act play are not too few in number and to let his audience have a clear picture of the nineteenth-century male with all his oddities, Ibsen has created an egoist, Torvald Helmer, a misguided man Nils Krogstad, and Dr. Rank , a man doomed for no fault of his. On the other hand he has placed women, three of them, Nora, Kristine and Anne Marie who ultimately prove that their creator has not cast them all in a single mould. Torvald Helmer Interestingly, with the rise of the importance of Nora Helmer and with the strengthening of controversies with regard to the play as a whole, Torvald Helmer's importance has catapulted. He is studied less as a man of ambition, a lawyer who has risen to the position of a bank manager and more as Nora's husband or as the man who has failed to read his wife even after eight years of marriage and three children. Torvald makes an early appearance in the play and his power over his wife is registered with the simple yet significant act of Nora's concealing the macaroons as he disapproves of them. He can deceive his audience just as he deceives his wife with his very sweet words and his display of love and
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    concern for her. Who cannot but consider him a loving and indulgent husband as he asks, "Is that my little sky-lark chirruping out there?" (109) There are no signs yet of the veneer cracking. Like Joseph Surface 'the man of sentiment' in Sheridan's The School for Scandal, Ibsen's Torvald is a "man of honour". He cannot, nor does he wish to, see beyond what is socially respectable. As a lawyer too he .refuses to take on anything that's the least bit shady.. (117). His love for his wife, his desire for the attractive woman, his indulgence, that could have been an admirable trait, lose meaning since the audience gradually understands that Nora is to him a beautiful object that he is proud to possess, to exhibit and to put to use as and when he wishes to. She is to be voiceless except when he wants her to speak. He is to decide whether or not she should eat macaroons, what she is to wear, how she is to dance the tarantella and so on. It must all be under his tutelage. Mrs. Linde, an outsider, must embroider not knit, he opines, for that looks more feminine! He can comment on Kristine Linde for hasn't the widow approached him for a job? Helmer , like Rorlund of Pillars of Society , actually, "is in every way the dominant male in a male-dominated society. "(McFarlane 1975: 212) What blinds his vision is male egoism that is suitably fed by none other than Nora who has learnt from her experience with her father that men are born to be obeyed and women to obey. Man is the superior creation hence it belittles him if he finds himself indebted to a woman. The husband may fall sick, there can be shortage of money but his wife should not borrow for his sake. When he condemns Nora for her disrespectable act, he does not once pay heed to the motive. The act is all important as it crosses the limits of social respectability. In fact, as all agree, there is no attempt to conceal what amounts to sheer selfishness and lack of consideration when he learns that Nora's 'crime' has been to nurse him back to health and that she had not been fully aware of the gravity of the situation when she forged her father's signature. The very idea of losing his reputation makes him insensitive to her anguish and anxiety. It is not the question of morality that he is concerned with because he does think of trying to hush up the matter, as Krogstad said he would. Krogstad has read Torvald Helmer better than Nora who has so idealized him and for so long that all his flaws seem to escape her notice. Gradually, Helmer does come to know of the reasons behind Nora's anxiety, her pathetic attempts to keep him away from the letter box and recommend Krogstad's case so strongly, yet he does not lift a finger to help her because in his life she has never been that important. It is Torvald Helmer who is always at the top of Torvald Helmer's list of priorities. Mark his words when he learns that the Krogstad menace is a thing of the past. 'I'm saved!" cries the man disgustingly and Nora has to
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    question, "And me?" How much sincerity there is in, "You too, of course, we are both saved, you as well as me" (185), the audience can easily guess. But neither Torvald nor the audience is quite prepared for Nora's sudden change. To him it comes as a shock that his 'wife' has a mind of her own and that she can override his decisions and take her own. To Nora too it is a revelation perhaps that the "skylark" can spread its wings now that her home is no more than a cage. On the question of mental strength it may be remembered that scholars have expressed their desire to see Torvald as a marionette in his "doll house." He needs to be protected from what is ugly and he cannot accept what is not pleasant and fairy-like, including his wife. He has been a jealous man who does not want Nora to even mention her old friends. If Krogstad irks him it is mainly because he has himself raised in life and the conceited man will not have anything to do one so lowly. With this portrayal of an immature adult, Ibsen hits men hard. Torvald Helmer is one of those men who respect no relationship. As an employer, he treats Krogstad, a school friend, most shabbily. Dr. Rank has been a friend for years but the sensual man tries to caress his wife when he learns that Rank is dying. Dr. Rank too has studied Torvald well and then chosen Nora as a 'confidante' not Helmer. Along with Dr. Rank, Helmer is a representative of the upholders of the environment-heredity effect on the shaping of a man/woman and his/her sense of values and morality. And what better excuse can a man have to upbraid his wife? So Helmer , at his best, tells Nora that she is a replica of her father in matters of money but he will have to "accept" her as she is because that " . sort of thing is hereditary". (113) Not for once does he pay any heed to Nora's explanation that she had to borrow to keep him alive. When she hints at ending her life, he can only admonish her with, "Oh, stop pretending" (184) After the crisis is over, he generously forgives Nora without stopping to think even for a moment that it is he who needs to be forgiven for his insensitive and inconsiderate behaviour. Instead, he cries, "You can 't bring yourself to believe I've forgiven you. But I have, Nora, I swear it." (185) Not for nothing does McFarlane say, "There is a kind of moral blindness which is a major factor in driving Nora to leave him for ever." (McFarlane 1975: 213) To think that Torvald Helmer is the only one of his kind is to be unaware of Ibsen's practice of repeating his characters, situations, complications and so on. Helmer is thus not the only man in Ibsen's world to look upon a woman as usable. One is reminded of Arnold Rubek in When We Dead
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    Awaken who begs Irene to come back to him not because he loves her as she has always done but as she alone can revive his wilting creativity. Helmer talks to Nora the way Karsten Bernick does to his wife Betty in Pillars of Society and like Pastor Manders in Hedda Gabler he appears intolerably righteous. At the end, the effect of his sweet talk on Nora is nil. Torvald's china doll has ceased to be one. Thus, after the crisis is apparently over, the more Helmer pleads and cries, the more unacceptable he becomes. KROGSTAD Next in importance to Torvald Helmer stands Nils Krogstad, peculiarly related to most of the major characters of the play. He is a man who is more important for what he does than for what he is. Krogstad who makes an appearance in the opening act itself was once Torvald Helmer's school friend. Later, he is employed in a bank where Helmer will be the manager. His connection with Nora Helmer is sinisterly strong. She has borrowed money from him and he still holds a tell-tale IOU on which Nora has not only forged her father's signature but also put a stamp on the forgery by dating the document 2 October while her father had died on 29 September. As things stand, if Krogstad loses his job because of Torvald Helmer, he will ensure that Helmer loses his reputation in society and that the Helmer marriage collapses irreparably. He promises to hand over the documentary evidence of Nora's 'crime' to her husband. Apparently, Krogstad's threats amount to pure blackmail and he may be very easily branded a villain, the type one gets to see in the commercial hero versus villain films or in melodramas. But the similarity ends here. Krogstad like the protagonist in Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman is a man with a past. He has committed forgery but is now craving for a little stability and respectability for he has his "many children" to consider. Yet, he does not want Nora to take a drastic step. Let us not forget that Krogstad has been very badly treated and thus is a man with many scores to settle. Torvald Helmer sees through him and refuses to acknowledge their friendship; Kristine has jilted him for marriage to a man with money. Still, he is no Judge Brack of Hedda Gabler who uses blackmail to force a woman to become his mistress. Rather, even when his entire career is at stake, he says, "Even a mere money-lender... well, even somebody like me has a bit of what you might call feeling." (160) Krogstad picks on Nora only because his reputation as well as the future of his children is at stake and Nora can be persuaded to be his saviour. He may seem a big, bad dog but he does not bite.
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    An intelligent man, Krogstad reads Helmer like the proverbial open book. Nora may cry that her husband will throw away whatever is unclean or tainted but Krogstad knows that a little temptation can turn his head and Helmer will throw his principles in the bin and be more than willing to make compromises. And, Krogstad is proven right. That he is not what he appears to be is apparent soon after he meets his former love Kristine, now the widowed Mrs. Linde. All that he needs is a little sympathy and love to change his ways. The man who threatened Nora and almost turned her into a nervous wreck with his threats, now agrees to release her once Kristine expresses her wish to make up for the past and begin life afresh with him. Krogstad becomes human much to Helmer's disadvantage. Melodramatic this may appear, it may be somewhat difficult to accept but one should perhaps not blame a reader who is happy for the two since in half the plays of this Norwegian playwright marriage and togetherness mean little or nothing. But what if Krogstad had not entered the Helmer home, crept in like a prowling wolf to frighten Nora? We would not have had the play. Nora and Helmer would continue with their hollow cooing and Helmer would pull the string and complacently watch his adorable Nora dance to his tune. To make the play a play, enters Krogstad to strike at the very root of the Helmers' existence. What needs to be noted is that this outsider, though menacing, unsympathetic, asks Nora why she has forged her father's signature. Helmer, on the other hand, believes only in accusing. Moreover, in spite of the threats, Nora understands Krogstad while to Helmer he is no more than a blackguard and such a man can only be redeemed if he "honestly confessed his guilt and took his punishment. "(140) Krogstad, on the other hand, hates Torvald for making him a black-mailer and once Kristine decides to return, Krogstad thinks only of undoing what he has done. Krogstad helps the play in more ways than one. The more we see him, the less we like Torvald Helmer. Moreover, it is Krogstad who shows Helmer what his wife has concealed from him on one occasion and it is the same Krogstad who indirectly shows Nora what Helmer has been concealing from her i.e. his true self, his selfishness, his inconsideration and his narcissistic traits through out their married life. Helmer, with his limited vision, fails to understand Nora, his squirrel, his skylark and his pet. But it is Krogstad who once remarks, sarcastically may be, "So the lady's got courage." (133)
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    Ibsen put in, as it were, a definite attempt to shape his Krogstad into a 'black' character in every way possible, though the term 'antagonist' would suit him better. Like Shakespeare's Malvolio or Middleton's Spurio, the name Krogstad is indicative of a character trait. The word in Norwegian means a "bent-staff' or a "heavy stick" carried by shepherds and so "the idea of crookedness or villainy is built into his name and character." (Sen 2005: Ixiv) His environment and its evil effect have been hinted at and Krogstad of the final draft is to Dr. Rank, morally sick, to Helmer a moral outcast. But as he has remained "susceptible to moral and emotional considerations" we cannot but agree that he is "more human than Helmer who prides himself on never having violated society's moral code." (McFarlane 1975:214) Dr. Rank Doctors have featured quite prominently in Ibsen's plays and in The Enemy of the People Dr. Thomas Stockmann invites attention as well as admiration for his resolve to fight for the community notwithstanding the hurdles placed by society big shots, including his brother. However, Ibsen's Dr. Rank in A Doll's House may be labelled a minor character that makes brief appearances though his presence can be felt even in his absence. He is a family friend of the Helmers and breezes in and out of the house, as he has been doing for years. . "He's our best friend and he always looks in at least once a day", explains Nora. (118) Though Dr. Rank is a tragic figure, he is not much of a pessimist, who tells Nora that he is quite keen to live and quite ready to let things drag on as long as possible." (126). This practical man, a doctor by profession, has no misgivings as he tells Nora, "I'm slowly sinking. There's nothing to be done about it. " (153). He can even joke about his disease and he says, perhaps with a wry smile, "My poor innocent spine must do penance for my father's gay subaltern life." (154) With this acceptance comes normalcy and Dr. Rank, as we see him, has full interest in life and in people around him. He loves Nora silently, is open in his dislike of Krogstad and has no illusions whatsoever about Torvald Helmer. Like Helmer, he believes that moral corruption is a hereditary disease and his unjust comment on Krogstad is that he is "rotten to the core". To readers of today Dr. Rank will appear prejudiced as he passes the judgement that there is something evil in Nils Krogstad and that the depravity may be traced back to his father. To Ibsen's audience, Dr, Rank was just expressing the belief of those much concerned with the post-Darwinian heredity-environment relationship. Like Osvald in Ghosts he is suffering from 'tuberculosis of the spine' or syphilis but instead of making a plea for euthanasia he
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    goes away to die but not before indicating his end through his cards with black crosses. In spite of his knowledge of his approaching death, Dr. Rank does nothing to make others suffer for his misfortune but his presence does at times darken the atmosphere. Yet we need him. Like the Chorus, he observes and comments. He listens, feels and suffers and like it is ultimately rendered ineffective. He knows that his friend Helmer cannot see him die because he cannot stand what is ugly and so the considerate man says that Torvald should be spared the unpleasant experience. Fortunately, he is not to know how little Helmer is affected by his friend's approaching end and how easily he can dismiss the thought of his friend and begin caressing his wife, much to her amazement. Of the three men that Nora encounters in her life, Dr. Rank is the easiest to handle and the most genuine. Helmer just wanted to be a hero, Dr. Rank is ready to be one and do anything for Nora. "I'm at your service, body and soul... (157) says the man and adds, "I'll do anything that's humanly possible."(167) He is a friend, someone Nora can confide in as Aline Solness does in Dr. Herdal in The Master Builder. Krogstad intimidates her. Dr. Rank admires and loves, silently most of the time and from a distance and allows Nora to relax. When Dr. Rank plays the piano she dances with abundance. However, unfortunately for him, he cannot leave without professing his love for her and the lady's reaction may surprise the audience. It is a tense moment. Nora is debating whether or not to tell Dr. Rank of the Krogstad menace but once she learns of his affections, she withdraws into her shell. Nora, who tantalizingly held up her flesh-coloured stockings, is now Torvald Helmer's wife, mother to his three children. Dr. Rank earns our respect for taking the message and addressing Nora as "Mrs. Helmer" and for stoically accepting his lot. Ironically, for Nora, this ailing man, with a diseased body but not a diseased mind, comes in like a breath of fresh air to relieve her of the strain of playing a "skylark" and a child-wife. Not one of the three male characters of A Doll's House is without his peculiarities. Belonging to different professions, the three men, Helmer, Krogstad and Dr. Rank find their destinies intertwined and since each of the three is better understood in relation to Ibsen's female characters, we need to analyse them at this point.
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    UNIT 4.3: FEMALE CHARACTERS: NORA HELMER, MRS. LINDE AND ANNE MARIE Nora: It is indeed a challenge for an actress to play Ibsen's Nora Helmer for the many shades in this apparently naive, sweet, child-like young woman, wife of Torvald Helmer and mother of two boys and a girl. Rarely has a female character been so interestingly presented on stage and rarely has one been so controversial and so oft-discussed. Nora Helmer is the heroine of Henrik Ibsen's startling play A Doll 's House. When we first see her, she seems but a child, another friend of her three children. A Christmas on which she can spend money because of her husband's social rise, has made her as excited as a child. Throwing caution to the wind, it may seem, she has gone on a shopping spree, buying gifts for almost everyone and on return, stealthily eats the forbidden macaroons and dreams of her pots of money. One can almost visualize the radiant smile on her face and sense her unconcealed rising excitement as she takes some money from her husband. Excitedly she counts and exclaims, "Ten, twenty, thirty, forty. Oh, thank you. Thank you, Torvald. This will see me quite a long way. "(l I l) But the husband does not believe her, for to him she is an immature woman who does not understand the value of money. Moreover, from the very beginning, Torvald may be seen passing uncomplimentary comments, may be jokingly, on his wife's nature, on her irresponsibility which, according to him, she has inherited from her father. However, no one in the audience can even imagine at this stage that a portion of the money that she gets from her husband is always kept aside for paying off a debt. No one even knows that she is looking forward to a new year which will see her free herself from the financial load on her shoulders as well as on her conscience. It has been troubling her for the past seven years, perhaps robbing her of her peace of mind as well. She has not been able to enjoy life for the sacrifices she has to continuously make to pay back Krogstad. And twelve thousand dollars is a large sum. Hence, some of Nora's exuberance may be seen as exaggerated and deliberate. Unaware of his wife's financial stress, Torvald comments, "What a funny little one you are! Just like your father. Always on the look out for money, wherever you can lay your hands on it; but as soon as you've got it, it just seems to slip through your fingers." (113) It is indeed difficult to assess Nora. And Torvald fails miserably. Nora remains an enigma. On the one hand, she tells her husband that she can never dream of doing what he does not approve of and on the
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    other there is the revelation that she has done much without her husband's knowledge. The woman, who at the end of the play takes a decision that shocks audience all over Europe, at one point seems immature, perhaps a little shallow and definitely insensitive even to her widowed friend Kristine's grief. Not for nothing does McFarlane remark, "Nora has many weaknesses."(McFarlane 1961:212) Still, does she deserve epithets like "frivolous", "irrational", "hysterical" and also "neurotic"? Mary McCarthy, Evert Sprinchorn and Maurice Valency brand her as abnormal and may be unfeminine. Ibsen too changed his mind quite often and from the first draft of the play to the last, Nora has undergone significant changes. Earlier, she was Mrs.Stenborg, a less-flawed wife and it was in the final draft that Ibsen brought in the twist. He kept adding to Nora's weaknesses, made her more 'real ' so much so that almost visibly the uni-dimensional Nora, who offers little resistance to her husband in the Preliminary Notes, is transformed into a multi-dimensional woman, difficult to read and predict hence considered unconventional and improbable and of course unwomanly-like by men in particular. Ibsen's Nora is said to be blemished. So, it would do well to take a closer look at her 'crime/crimes' to assess the degree of her criminality. Nora Helmer borrowed money from Nils Krogstad and then forged her father's signature and dated the document 2 October whereas her father had died on 29 September, i.e. three days earlier. We are at once reminded of another young man William Falder in John Galsworthy's Justice who also forges a cheque and changes a nine to ninety. Mark the motive in both the cases. Nora has done the deed so that she can take her sick husband away from the chill of Norway to the sun-bathed Italy and spare her father a mental trauma while Falder's only desire is to save Ruth Honeywill, the woman he loves, from the clutches of a brute husband. Nora is no Bernick of Pillars of Society who lives conscience—free after tarnishing the image and reputation of his wife's younger brother when he himself is the guilty one. Rather, she insists that if, in her absence, someone else takes the blame, Kristine should tell that Nora "alone was responsible for the whole thing. "(164). Nora cannot violate all codes of conduct. At the most, she can point out to Kristine and lie that her friend has brought the forbidden macaroons for her. Nothing more. Nora Helmer may be given benefit of the doubt as she was perhaps ignorant of legal implications while taking money from Krogstad.Let us not forget the fact that Krogstad tells her that while borrowing she did not pay "very much attention to all the incidentals" (135) and later Nora adds, "I couldn't stand you, not when you insisted on going through with all those cold-blooded formalities, knowing all the time what a critical state my husband was in." (137) Such was the familial crisis that
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    the IOU meant nothing to her then and as far as she was concerned, that one signature amounted to saving her husband and also keeping an ailing father free from anxiety. That it is Kristine Linde and not Nora who is aware of the law that a woman cannot borrow without her husband's consent has troubled critics. But the fact remains that Mrs. Linde's exposure to the world and its ways has been much more than Nora' s because of the latter' s cushioned existence and treatment as a china doll. When the play was performed in nineteenth-century Europe, Nora, with her final words and the famous slamming of the door, shocked her audience and her society. That a husband could be so challenged by his wife was difficult to accept. Hence, it was then convenient to regard Nora Helmer as insane, improbable and impossible. Or else, how could a woman muster the courage to reject her husband's pleas and not accept gracefully what he has decided to shower on her most generously as alms to a beggar? Nora disturbed one section of her audience and her critics as well because truth is bitter and always difficult to swallow. The male ego is used to pampering and a man feels uncomfortable when a woman is empowered to fight her own battle and win hands down.Una Ellis- Fermor stands by Nora with, "Norah speaks out at the moment of leaving her husband; it was impossible for her to do so before, yet impossible for her not to do so when challenged."(Ellis-Fermor 1964:113) Another blame placed on Nora and her creator' s shoulders is that without any prior intimation, without even allowing any one to catch a glimpse of the tough side of her character, Helmer's wife is made to take a sudden bold step. This, a section feels, amounts to a cheating of her audience and giving them an unexpected, rude shock. A reviewer, Clement Scott, for instance, having watched the July 1889 performance in the Theatre, literally called Nora names and then expressed his indignation at her conversion. Scott and many others like him either did not watch carefully enough or just failed to spot the concealed inner strength of this, "frivolous butterfly" as some chose to call her. Nor did Scott take into consideration two possibilities. Even a worm will turn at last, why not Nora? If constantly provoked and pushed to the edge, one will turn around and fight for survival as Nora does. Secondly, if you and I, or rather most of us, look upon Nora as 'real' we should neither be scandalized by her words nor be startled by her action in the dying hours of the play. A marionette alone will dance and sing to the tune of its master and all its moves will then be rehearsed and expected. It is only the real that are unpredictable and can shock the on-lookers with an unexpected move or decision. Nora is real
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    just as very many of Ibsen's men and women are, for didn't Ibsen, Nora's creator declare , in his own letter, that his "task" has only been the "description of humanity"? It is evident that Nora did not ever contemplate a breaking away but when she does, suffice to say, the cause is both serious and immediate. The fact remains that there are moments in a play when a character suddenly awakens to a realization. Shakespeare's Gloucester in King Lear, for instance, begins to 'see' just after he is blinded. Nora too begins to understand when, after a rejection, she is most graciously forgiven. She can only watch fixedly when, as if by the wave of a wand, Torvald, who was ready to throw her out on the streets, as it were, is once again the 'loving' husband. The realization that she is all alone, sans husband, sans marriage, fills her with a strength and determination that she has never experienced before either as her father' s daughter or as her husband' s wife. She will no longer think of suicide for that would be a cowardly act. The strong woman will now reject her husband and go out in search of her Self which her marriage to Helmer has crushed beyond recognition. Unfortunately for her, only when she finds the sword hanging on her head by a thread does Nora realize the enormity of the act, the true meaning of forging a signature and borrowing money secretly. Thus, it would be unjust to blame Nora for play-acting and concealing a crooked nature under a veneer of jollity and innocence. Ibsen, one feels, wanted his audience to pay particular attention to Nora and see in her, notwithstanding the baby-doll image, a business woman who has been guarding a secret for seven long years, embroidering, doing odd jobs to raise money for the pay off, discussing finance, interests and instalments, calculating but not breaking down. There is so much that her husband does not know. Nora tells Kristine, "Whenever Torvald gave me money for new clothes and such like, I never spent more than half. And always I bought the simplest and cheapest things" (123) One would want to pity her as she confides, "But sometimes I did feel it was a bit hard, Kristine, because it is nice to be well dressed, isn't it? (123) This childish woman, as many would choose to call her, has exercised tremendous self control over years and sacrificed personal happiness. Neither Torvald nor the children were made to feel that there wasn't enough money. But the myopic Torvald just cannot not imagine that his "skylark" is capable of such maturity. Nora confides only in Kristine Linde, that too only when Krogstad hovers over her like an evil spirit. Her husband is not one that she can go to. He is made of different stuff altogether and his skylark must always have a clean beak. Torvald Helmer has not learnt to understand.
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    Krogstad's role in the unmaking/making of Nora cannot be underestimated. It is for his threats that the audience sees her both as a woman trapped and also as a woman bold enough to try to force open a lock and dance with wild abundance to keep her husband away from the letters. Yet, one can never trace any frivolousness or shallowness in Nora who has been accused by critics like Sprinchorn for tantalizing a besotted Dr. Rank and playing with his feelings. But, to accept this and cast an aspersion on Nora would mean ignoring the fact that the moment the man expresses his emotion, Nora turns cold and does not even let him become her confidante. When the burden seemed too heavy, Nora would sit and dream of a saviour, some "rich, old gentleman" yet she did not ever approach Dr. Rank. A Doll 's House is Nora's tragedy. And men stand responsible for all that scholars find unacceptable in her. When she lived with her father she had to "hide" her opinion for the paterfamilias did not like being contradicted. After marriage she is made her husband's echo. Male domination, despite the change of location has remained the same. No wonder she says that being with her husband was like being with her father. Nora has been suffering in silence and the tarantella is not an adequate vent. She has to do something more decisive. And she does. She too perhaps realizes with Ibsen's Thomas Stockmann that, "The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone." The questions are many. Is it possible for a "marzipan bride" to become a fighter and raise the accusing finger not just at her husband but at all males who consider their wives playthings, nice to possess and good to display? Many like Harold Clurman find the change improbable and unacceptable. Let us see for once whether we, like Ibsen's audience, have missed what he perhaps does not want us to catch so early. He wants us to go on believing the "doll" story. But, if we make the attempt, we shall be able to see the face beneath the mask. Do we not, if we watch closely, see a woman determined to have her way even in matters apparently as trivial as eating macaroons? She even has the presence of mind when caught to make an amazed Kristine her macaroon bringer. One will marvel to hear her narrate a concealed past and it will be difficult not to see her determination and fearlessness and also her resourcefulness which she uses to earn money. She tells Kristine, ...I shut myself up every night and sat and wrote through to the small hours of the morning. Oh, sometimes I was so tired, so tired." (124) Also hear her add, "But it was tremendous fun all the same, sitting there working and earning money like that. It was almost like being a man" (124) Can this be dismissed as a mumble form a confused individual? Was she blabbering on like a child? Nora, it is more than evident, has been able to handle problems like a 'man'. Though, she has been accused of being deceitful, it is
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    Nora who spells it out, somewhat lightly, that she will not keep her husband in the dark permanently. She only has to wait for the right time and that is when both have aged. The 'story' would then add spice to an otherwise insipid life. Nora has, she thinks, patterned her life well but when the unexpected happens and she is caught unawares, she needs little time to take a shocking decision which is to her the only decision that she can take. Her heredity, the environment she has grown up in, have all been questioned by the man who now, after his own escape, opens his arms and expects her to walk into them. Nora now wants her freedom, freedom at any cost and finally, when faced with a choice, she opts for it. Ironically, by exercising her right, she parts company with women like Hedda Gabler who escape through suicide. Instead, she decides to face the world, question why a woman, a daughter or a wife cannot take any decision independently for the comfort and well being of her own home as well as that of her parents and, if required, fight like a man, may be like, Thomas Stockmann of An Enemy of the People However, it would do well to remember that it is Nora, the oppressed, who has idealized her own husband and placed him on a pedestal so high that she is herself dwarfed for a while. Her Torvald is always right and whatever he says will stand. May we look upon this apparently servile attitude as Nora's temporary releasing of the taut leash loose to see how far Torvald Helmer can stray? When he falls short of her expectation and is dwarfed in turn, she throws him into the bin, as it were. Unfortunately, Nora is not empowered all through for taking a decision and acting on its basis but the seeds of rebellion remain embedded deep within waiting to burst forth. So the woman, who was once seen playing hide and seek, eating macaroons, pleading with Krogstad, now decides not to discharge her matrimonial obligations or her maternal duties. She will now put the Self before others because she, or rather every woman, has a duty towards her ownself as well. The going will be difficult but she "must set about getting experience". (190) Marriage to her has meant a passing out of her father's hands into her husband's and then on she has lived, "like a beggar, from hand to mouth."(188). She has had enough of it all. On behalf of all wives perhaps, Nora Helmer declares that she will no longer bother about what people say and will walk out to find who is right she or her society.. As Inga-Stina Ewbank puts it, Nora acquires self knowledge and takes a decision like some of Ibsen's other women. But, while she decides to leave, Ellida W angel of The Lady from the Sea decides to stay
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    but they decide alright and do so independently. Do we see an Indian Nora in the Hindi filmmaker Mahah Bhatt's masterpiece, Arth? In the last scene of the film, a repentant husband tries to bring his wife back home but she refuses making it clear that as a man would not bring home a disloyal wife she too would not rerun to a philandering husband. And when Nora closes behind her the door of her doll's house, she has the world before her, waiting to be explored. She will return to her father's house where, in the absence of her father, she will be the mistress, independent, without any man dictating terms. To Nora this is an immensely satisfying decision but to many of her critics the slamming of the door is no less than a criminal offence. Some hold her guilty while others admire her boldness and the fact remains that the more one discusses Nora, the more complex and interesting does she become even with all her weaknesses. And as Krishna Sen strongly argues, "The flaws in Nora's character are part of Ibsen's critique of the unsatisfactory situation in society, and not a blemish on that critique." (Sen 2005: liv) Mrs. Kristine Linde Mrs. Kristine Linde (or Linden as mentioned in the 1890 translation by Henrietta Frances Lord), a widow, childless, battered by life, as it were, jobless, enters the house of a now well-settled Nora Helmer like a mendicant. Placed inside the comfortable Helmer home, listening to the story of Nora's pots and pots of money", Mrs.Linde appears too insignificant to have a definite role to play. But as the story unfolds, she rises slowly and steadily till she becomes Nora Helmer's benefactor in a way and also a foil to her. When Kristine Linde enters, she seems a shadow of her former self and Nora, her old school friend, fails to recognize her. Her cry of astonishment, "How you've changed, Kristine" (115) strongly reminds one of Madame Forestier's cry, "Oh, my poor Mathilde! How you are changed!" in Guy de Maupassant's short story The Diamond Necklace. Kristine Linde is paler, thinner and as she says, "And much, much older, Nora." (115) Mrs.Linde has nothing, no husband, no children and her husband, as she says, has left her nothing, "not even a broken heart to grieve over". (116) She needs a job which Torvald, as the bank manager, can very well provide. But as luck would have had it, there is the incumbent Nils Krogstad living under the threat of a dismissal. So, pitted against each other are
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    Ibsen's two important characters, Mrs. Kristine Linde and Nils Krogstad, a widow and a widower, lovers once upon a time. If their lives, only what is visible thereof , are to be compared, Nora, it will seem, has been more fortunate even though she has had to face financial problems, do odd jobs, work till midnight just to decorate a Christmas tree. It must have been painful for she has been a compulsive spendthrift. Kristine Linde on the other hand has worked hard for a mother "bedridden and helpless" and for her young brothers and had to desert the man she loved in order to marry a man with money only for social security. Unfortunately for her, the man died leaving her nothing at all. Life has not treated Kristine Linde well and the "last three years have been one long relentless drudge". (119) Both Nora and Kristine have a 'past' but Nora's moves have been secretive while Kristine has been in the open. Even her final acceptance of Krogstad, she makes no attempt to conceal, is for the much- desired security at her age. But when Kristine Linde walks into Nora's comfortable and decorated flat on Christmas Eve, she feels small but as the characters converse and as truth is revealed, Kristine gets to see the cracks in the Helmer home. And, it is interesting to see how from a recipient Kristine is transformed into a donor, empowered to give back Nora both her home and the desired marital bliss. She, in a way, becomes a foil to Nora. How childish the latter seems when, to prove her own mettle, she takes Kristine into confidence and with a "tra-la-la" says, "I was the one who raised the money" (121) and how mature Kristine proves to be when she wonders how Nora could have taken a loan without her husband's consent. Since Nora does not reveal the whole secret, Kristine makes wild guesses till she finally learns that the money came from Krogstad whom she had once jilted. Amazed, she cries, "Nora! It was Krogstad who lent you the money!" (163) Kristine is the only one Nora can confide in for her husband will never understand her. She is a friend who will help Nora with the costume, be by her side in the crisis, be a witness, if required. Towards the end of Act Two, Kristine Linde steadily gains importance. She promises Nora a miracle for she can make Krogstad give up his blackmailing intention. More like an older sister, Kristine advises Nora to keep Torvald away from the letter-box and it is this that leads to the frenzied tarantella. In focus are Krogstad and Kristine when the third and final Act opens and it is interesting to note that as they find themselves on stage all alone, Nora is forgotten and it is their past that gains
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    importance. Under Kristine's influence, Krogstad says, "Oh, if only I could undo what I've done" (173) It is no longer for love, love and love alone, as in Naipaul's short story of the same name, but for security that Kristine approaches Krogstad and with his many children the man too wishes to settle down and gain that respectability for which he has been blackmailing Nora. Whether they will live happily ever after or not is not known but they will at least make an attempt to cement their relationship. To push Kristine Linde to the margins would be unwise. The woman, who enters bereft of almost everything that Nora can proudly display, actually has qualities that Nora would have loved to possess. She is independent with no man declaring that he will be the guide and she the guided. Kristine Linde is a working woman, now on the look out for an office job while all Nora could do to earn was to sew and embroider, what since the time of the classical Greeks was considered woman-like. Kristine can take her decisions and choose her own partner proving beyond doubt that in her case the emancipation process is near-complete. It' s interesting to note how the act of discharging wifely duties is tantamount to being in chains in the case of Nora but when Mrs. Linde offers to mother Krogstad's children and look after his home it becomes the independent decision of a free woman Bernard Shaw would have approved of whole-heartedly. Nora remains a fragile china doll to be played with while Kristine Linde has won for herself the tag of a strong woman, strong enough to ask a man to change his ways. She wants Krogstad to let Nora go and then, for her acquired love for openness, she advises Krogstad to leave the letter in the box. Transparency is essential in any marriage; she holds but errs in thinking that Torvald Helmer will also think in the same way. He does not and when Nora will put up with Kristine for the night she will know how her efforts have backfired. At the same time, she will re-discover her friend and be a witness to the process of a girl turning into a woman with a mind and a voice of her own. Kristine Linde "serves the cause of truth "for in Ibsen's plays often, "one like Lona Hessel in Pillars of Society must serve the cause of truth however painful the consequences." (McFarlane 1975:214) When Kristine Linde entered as a non-entity, little does the audience realize that it is about to witness a transformation of a nobody into a somebody. With her words and her role as a listener listening to Nora's past, she propels the play towards its final destination. But, at the end she leaves the stage to
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    Nora, goes back to her own room not knowing, however, that she has been instrumental in the emergence of a new Nora who, after slamming the door of her own flat behind her, will proceed to put up with her, but only for one night. Kristine has played her part in making the "china doll" so spirited that she will not look for comfort and support under her roof. Take her away and Nora too will turn vapid and the play colourless. For, she, by her decision to let Helmer discover the truth, allows Nora not only to mature and question questionable male decisions and instructions but also to live life as she wishes to. Anne Marie Anne Marie is the only outsider in Helmer's flat yet, she is an integral part of the household. She was once Nora's nanny and is now in charge of Nora's three children. Anne Marie had once taken the child Nora under her wings and Nora acknowledges it with, "Dear old Anne Marie, you were a good mother to me when I was little."(144) Now she is in charge of three small children and discharges her duties admirably. But Anne Marie herself has had a hard life with no room of her own. She lost her respectability because of a pregnancy early in life. The man shirked his responsibility and Anne Marie had to hand over her little daughter to strangers because "the rotter" did not help. Ironically, her bond of affection with her own daughter has come loose but as a mother to the motherless Nora and a nursemaid to Nora's children, she is matchless. Anne Marie's profession is the right one for women for women, men say, are born to bear and rear children, their own or those of others. Anne Marie is rarely heard but remains a support right through. Nora considers her a better mother than she herself can ever hope to be. Her conversation with Nora in the third and final act of the play requires attention if one wishes measure her importance in Nora's life. Had she not been there, could Nora have slammed the door and walked out leaving her three children behind? UNIT 4.4: MINOR CHARACTERS Ivar, Bob, and Emmy Helmer Ibsen's Nora Helmer is a mother of three. She has two sons, Ivar and Bob, and a little girl, Emmy. And this is a fact that is as important as her identity as Torvald Helmer's wife because society expects a
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    woman to be not just a good wife but also a responsible mother, a model for her children. But in the Helmer home, the two boys Ivar and Bob and the little girl Emmy are under the supervision of their nursemaid Anne Marie. Helmer, to whom his wife Nora is a desirable baby doll herself, is perhaps happy for the nursemaid looks after the children and leaves him free to spend time with his wife. It's not that Nora is not concerned about her children. She remembers them alright. For instance, while mentioning the time when they had travelled to Italy, Nora says, "It was just after I'd had Ivar." (1 17) The children, however, say little, little more than, "Mummy, the gentleman's just gone out of the gate." (137) or "All right, Mummy. Are you going to play again?" (138) and the daughter is still in the doll-playing stage but they do complete the Helmer family. They seem happy children and when they are seen against the decorated Christmas tree, amidst packages one is reminded of the many children of Krogstad no where as fortunate and also of the childless Kristine Linde. Nora is an affectionate mother who tells the nurse-maid, "I'll help them off with their things. No, please, let me I like doing it" (130) and also plays with them. The children in Ibsen's fictive families remain in focus and once they come attitudes change. Even Nils Krogstad yearns for respectability for his children's sake and for them he is prepared to go to the extent of blackmailing Nora. Hear him tell Nora, "My sons are growing up; for their sake I must try and win back what respectability I can." (134). Hear Nora plead with Krogstad, "Think of my little children."(160) The importance of the children may also be understood from Mrs. Linde's appeal to Krogstad, "I need someone to mother, and your children need a mother. We two need each other. "(171) Childhood too is of great importance and even adults here are thought of as the child they once were and the effect their parents had on them. Three adults here have a second identity. Nora is her father's daughter and Krogstad and Dr. Rank their father's son. This the audience is not allowed to forget. When Torvald attacks Nora, he goes far back to her childhood and holds her father responsible for her dishonesty. Similarly, Dr. Rank is convinced of Krogstad's rottenness as a legacy inherited from his parents. He does make a comment on his own father too who, he says, has gifted his son a disease, syphilis. Thus, very directly, the heredity-environment juxtaposition is highlighted reminding readers of the importance of this issue. Children must be raised as respectable human beings and they should in no way tarnish their father's reputation, hence a mother, capable of borrowing and forging a signature, should have no say in the upbringing of the young ones. Nora, Torvald is convinced, will
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    pollute them as she has herself been corrupted by her father. Though the children seem to have little interaction with their parents they will not miss their mother, Nora is certain. Anne Marie may oppose with, "They are so used to being with their Mummy." (143) but Nora, who can almost sense her future, says firmly, .. from now on I can't be with them as often as I was before." (144) Hence, when Nora decides to leave, she is not overwhelmed by grief. So leaving the nineteenth-century conventional audience speechless, Nora Helmer, her head held high, walks out of her house, leaving the children behind, in order to seek and to strive and find her ownself, unencumbered. Children, more often than not, are kept indoors and their stage presence is negligible. This has more or less been a convention and MacdufPs precocious son in Macbeth is considered an all-time exception. But Ibsen, interestingly, includes them as and when required as in Little Eyolf The Wild Duck and of course in A Doll's House which, notwithstanding the laughter of the children as well as the game they play, is a grim play. So when Nora plays hide-and-seek with her children, Krogstad creeps in menacingly even before their laughter subsides. Then they fade from the scene but not from the memory of the audience or else there would not have been the cry of protest and the demand for an alternative ending with Nora staying back for their sake. Fathers No father, other than Torvald Helmer himself and Nils Krogstad, appear before the audience and both, as the head of their respective family, seem to be much concerned about the children. Torvald Helmer wants to throw a flawed Nora, a corrupt mother, out of the house so that his children do not get tainted. Krogstad has a 'past' but for the sake of his children's future he craves for respectability as a bank worker and then turns a blackmailer, temporarily. From Torvald we hear about Nora's father and how he was responsible for her moral turpitude. On the other hand, in spite of her concern for her ailing father whom she does not wish to disturb, Nora is critical of his manner of bringing her up and treating her as a "doll child". Though he is dead before the action of the play begins, characters refer to him throughout the play. And he remains a presence like the Count whose boots and gloves are on stage almost all the while in Strindberg's Miss Julie. Mrs. Linde's father must have been absent or why else did she have to sacrifice her love and life for looking after her family? Dr. Rank's father has given to his son as a parting gift 'tuberculosis of the
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    spine" that claims his life. Krogstad's father too is not on stage but Dr. Rank is certain that he is depraved or else he could not have sired a Nils Krogstad. Anne Marie's daughter does not have a father to look after her as the "rotter" has shirked all responsibility. This play thus concerns itself with a number of broken and mutilated families where fathers have erred and the children have suffered. UNIT 4.5: SUMMING UP Henrik Ibsen ' s plays like A Doll 's House are generally not very well-populated. He seems comfortable handling around eight to ten characters per play with exceptions such as Pillars of Society or Caesar 's Apostasy or The Emperor Julian. But, very rarely have just five characters borne the burden of the play so efficiently on their shoulders. Each differs from the other and yet their fates are so linked that any change introduced in any one will destroy the whole pattern. Though he will not place Ibsen alongside either Sophocles or Shakespeare, Allardyce Nicoll does admire Ibsen's character delineation. He writes, "He [Ibsen] may depict scenes of middle-class life, but the creatures who inhabit these scenes are not of the middle range of humanity." (Nicoll 1964: 545-546) And mark Ibsen's own words, "Before I write down one word, I have to have the character in my mind through and through. I must penetrate into the last wrinkle of his soul.'
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    UNIT 5: SOCIAL BACKGROUND Structure: 5.0 Objectives 5.1 Position of Women in Norway in the Nineteenth Century 5.2 Marriage and Family in Norway in the Nineteenth Century 5.3 Summing Up 5.0 OBJECTIVES To conduct a survey on Norway and Norwegian life, culture etc. in detail lies beyond the purview of this study. Whatever little will be touched upon will be done with the intention of giving the readers of A Doll's House a sketchy idea of the background for Ibsen's characters are Norwegian and so is the setting. The attempt will thus be to acquaint you a little with the Norwegian society of the nineteenth century and to make you aware of certain important social changes that Ibsen himself witnessed. 5.1: POSITION OF WOMEN IN NORWAY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY To be born as a woman is to make an entry into this world with a blemish, as it were, for, to men women are always Eve's daughters, treacherous and corruptible. Since this is the story across the globe, except in certain matriarchal territories, no study of a society is considered comprehensive without a survey of the position of women therein. Hence, an assessment of a play like A Doll 's House needs to be preceded by a section on society in Ibsen's Norway and the status of women therein. Norway, fortunately for women, has always been a trend-setter and is one of the earliest adopters of women's rights and minority rights in Europe. It is the second country to legalize same-sex partnerships and the sixth to grant marriage equality to such couples. So, it is but natural to think that women did not have to battle viciously for liberation as well as for equality. At the same time, however, it would be wrong to suppose that there were no hurdles for women anywhere. As early as in 1854, Norwegian women acquired inheritance rights. Earlier, sisters could inherit only half as much as their brothers did. In 1884, Ibsen, together with H.E.Berner, President of the Norwegian Women's Rights League and the remaining playwrights of the Great Four, made sincere
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    attempts to give separate property rights to married Norwegian women and it was in the 1890s that they finally gained the right to have full control over their own wealth. Before industrialization in the nineteenth century, the role of women, educated or not, was as the Holy Bible determined, inferior to men. It would do well to remember God's command for women: 'thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." This was the licence that men required to dominate. In 1882, when Ibsen was writing An Enemy of the People, Norwegian women were given the chance of going for higher education and in 1903, three years before Ibsen's death, the first woman in Norway received a doctorate at the University of Oslo and six years after Ibsen's death, i.e. in 1912, the University welcomed its first female professor. But, it was not that women with lesser education only managed their homes. Rather, there was a sizeable number working as secretaries, industrial workers etc. though women workers were denied equality regarding working hours and wages. So, the Porter in A Doll's House would perhaps earn more than Helene, the maid. As Chris Butler puts it, one of "the most dramatic and unexpected consequences of the Industrial Revolution was the rising status of women by the end of the nineteenth century." (Website 8) Women were no longer chained to the hearth. They received proper education and employers were willing to take more women into factories as they had to pay them less. The moneyed housewives were the marketeers' target in the "emerging consumer society" and advertisements were created with women buyers in mind. Norwegian women won the right to vote in 1913 and women's organization had been fighting hard since 1885, a year after Ibsen's The Wild Duck, for legal rights and the right to education. The working class came out with its demands around the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. To give them the required support, a group of writers with Henrik Ibsen as one of the most prominent came forward. In 1879, the year of A Doll's House, Ibsen addressed the Scandinavian Society in Rome with such passion that a woman is said to have fainted. Women writers like Camilla Collett and Sigrid Undset, a Nobel Laureate, highlighted woman's issues in their works. The last decades of the nineteenth century witnessed the strengthening of women's power and their cry for female franchise. Women read 'feminist' writing and even demonstrated in public. (Website 9) Pernille Lønne Mørkhagen, a reporter for Aftenposten, Norway's biggest daily paper, writes that situation will improve further when men too will come forward to share work at home.
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    In 1860 when Ibsen was finalizing his draft for Love 's Comedy, women in Norway could, like men, support themselves through handicrafts and craftsmanship. In 1869 all unmarried women in Norway were given full legal capacity at the age of 21. The first women's political organization was established in 1895, the year Ibsen returned to Norway to spend the rest of his life in his own country. But till 1888, when The Lady from the Sea was written and published, all married Norwegian women had to remain under the guardianship of their husbands. So legally, Ibsen's Nora was to be guarded and guided by Torvald Helmer as long as she remained his wife. In his article, 'The Status of Women in Norway', Karin Bruzelias Heffermehl writes that in 1842 a divorced or separated woman could be engaged in a trade. This will comfort all who have wondered what will happen to Nora who walks out of her husband's home, penniless. 5.2: MARRIAGE AND FAMILY IN NORWAY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY In search of his roots, Neil Hofland travelled from the United States of America to Norway, the home of his ancestors. He journeyed to Ivarsplassen and was shocked to realize that a tiny log cabin had once housed ten adults and four children. What better proof than this of the practice of a family staying together even in difficult times. Families in Norway in the nineteenth century were not to be taken lightly. The Norwegian law did not allow coerced unions for Norway has always respected human rights. It was a criminal offence to force any one to marry. Marriages had to be entered into "freely and willingly". Once two individuals set up a home, it became their bounden duty to look after the welfare of the children once they were born. Is this one of the reasons why a reviewer complains that Ibsen "has just as much targeted one of the institutions, by which society is supported; he has not only wanted to show where thoughtlessness and lack of truthfulness can lead an otherwise charming human being; he has also wanted to portray marriage as an arrangement which, instead of educating the individuals, if not always, but still often, corrupts them, and which they therefore have a moral right to immediately dissolve, as soon as it no longer satisfies them, and especially when they reap this sorry fruit from it, that either through loneliness or through another relationship they become more developed human beings. This reflection upon marriage, in which Mr. Ibsen shows himself to be in accordance with his countryman and colleague Mr. Bjørnson, is false." (Website 9)
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    A family in Norway, like many of its counterparts in countries of the East especially, was child- centred. There was a national welfare system for children as early as in 1896 and childhood was said to continue till one left high school. Grandparents were expected to look after their grandchildren when mothers went out to work but in the absence of such a facility, families employed young girls as baby-sitters. It will now be easy to understand Torvald Helmer and Krogstad's concern for their children and also why Anne Marie was employed to look after the little Nora first and then to take care of her children. In recent years there has been a campaign by the Christian Right to persuade parents (i.e. mothers) to stay at home with the children and fathers like Norway's former Minister of Finance, Sigbjørn Johnsen, are now availing of "pappa leave" to look after new-borns..But, instances of men shirking responsibility like Anne Marie's lover and leaving the woman with an illegitimate child were not too few. (Website 10) 5.3 SUMMING UP As stated earlier, Norway has rarely been in focus for students of English Literature but in order to negotiate a Norwegian playwright, as socially conscious as Henrik Ibsen, and a play like A Doll's House, one has to take a look at this Scandinavian country. Since A Doll's House has a female protagonist, quite naturally, we have turned our attention to women and women's condition in Norway at the time Ibsen was writing his plays. You must have noticed how movements, changes in law etc. have coincided with his plays dealing with social problems. The family too has been brought to the forefront and the importance given to children has been highlighted. This will help you to understand some of the actions of men like Torvald and Krogstad. From the real we will now move to the fictive and the next Unit will concern itself with some significant issues including marriage and gender in A Doll House.
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    UNIT 6: SOME CRITICAL ISSUES Structure 6.0 Objectives 6.1 Title 6.2 Marriage and Marital Relationship 6.3 The 'Woman Question' 6.4 Money 6.5 Morality 6.6 Recurrent Themes 6.7 Dramatic Art UNIT 6.0: OBJECTIVES There is much more in Ibsen's A Doll's House than the Helmers, Lindes and Krogstads. They are, let us remember, men and women used by the playwright not just to play their allotted part but also to bring to the forefront issues of special significance. This play has not been written only to entertain people for there is much that Henrik Ibsen wishes to convey. In this Unit we will thus turn to the play once again to see exactly what the playwright would want his audience and readers to note. 6.1: THE TITLE Since those were not the days of technological advancement, Henrik Ibsen could not, even if he had so desired, send out requests to the public to either suggest a title for his play or give them the option of voting for one out of many. He chose A Doll's House alright but as translations have been many, the title too has been altered/.replaced at will. Keeping in line with simple titles like The Duchess of Malfi or The Country Wife is the plain Nora tagged to one 1882 English translation. Somewhat like The Importance of Being Earnest or The Silver Box is The Child Wife or Breaking a Butterfly, titles of another translation and a stage adaptation respectively. Rolf Fjelde, noted for his observations on Ibsen, suggests A Doll House which will include the Helmers, husband and wife, in place of A Doll 's House that brings only Nora centre stage. One who knows nothing about the play and its content, but is aware of the fact that it is an 'adult' play, may very rightly assume that the title A Doll's House indicates a residence built on a wobbly
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    foundation, housing both men and women with loose/loosening ties. In fact, every house in this play is a kind of doll's house, a play thing. Mrs. Linde does not have a house, neither her parental nor her own. Krogstad's house is without a wife, Anne Marie's home is no home. Dr. Rank's home with a debauch as a father has given him nothing more than a disease while the Helmer home, with Torvald Helmer and Nora and their children, otherwise complete, is close to destruction. The inclusion of Emmy's play things as Christmas gift do remind us of the brittleness of such homes which, despite architectural solidity and beauty, may be easily demolished. Moreover, it is only too well known that when a game is on with dolls, the children who play turn Gods, planning moves, positioning the dolls, setting rules and even smashing them to bits mercilessly as and when the destructive mood sets in. Everything is illusory, imitative and, above all, insubstantial. Children realize this truth after the destruction of the doll home just as Nora understands the meaninglessness of her marriage and the worthlessness of her husband after the crisis. Kristine Linde realizes the hollowness of her marriage of convenience after she gets into it. It's a learning process for Torvald too. At a particular point, the man understands that he can neither play God in his doll house nor expect another human being of flesh and blood to be a marionette all through. Rolf Fjelde, as stated earlier, argues in favour of A Doll House since both Nora and Helmer can shoulder the responsibilities of being marionette-like, like "the little marzipan bride and groom atop a wedding cake" (Fjelde 1965: xxxvi).l cannot fully agree with Fjelde's interpretation because the "marzipan bride and groom", at the end of the play, after the collapse, actually come to life and can only look back with regret/distaste at their once "marzipan" existence. That the title is itself a symbol is evident. Ibsen has quite often opted for direct titles like Rosmersholm, An Enemy of the People, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder etc. On the other hand he has experimented and chosen ones like The Wild Duck, Ghosts, Pillars of Society, When We Dead Awaken and so on. For a play about the Helmers there perhaps could not have been a more appropriate title than the present one because into it Ibsen has put in all, ranging from the difference between appearance and reality to fragility and impermanence. McFarlane provides further information that the Norwegian title when translated reads A Doll's Home and also argues that homes can be lost and this idea was perhaps close to the mind as well as the heart of Ibsen who had himself been away from his
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    own home for years. Moreover, this doll 's house motif has been used in plays like Love 's Comedy and Hedda Gabler too. Many readers will agree that when the play begins with a glitter and gaiety, with a Christmas tree, with decorations and a man and a woman conversing like characters out of a fairy tale, the title will seem more than appropriate. It is only when shadows lengthen that they begin to realize that the title which has played an interesting trick, now invites further probes. UNIT 6.2: MARRIAGE AND MARITAL RELATIONSHIP Any one, associated with the writing of plays, acting, directing and even viewing, will agree that very few issues can be presented as dramatically and as successfully on stage as matrimony and marital harmony/indifference/disharmony. Romance is mainly for the young but marriage and its aftermath concerns the majority, irrespective of time, place and culture. And so great is its appeal and dramatic possibility that Ibsen, who was a great admirer of his wife and also a man who held that marriage had ruined the human race and made both man and wife slaves, has himself taken up the issue of matrimony time and again and viewed it from different angles. Not a single Ibsenian play begins with the "once upon a time" line and/or ends with "and they lived happily ever after". In Little Eyolf, for instance, after the child's death and a lot of heart-searching, Rita and Alfred Allmers decide to remain together and spend the rest of their lives for community betterment. In The Lady from the Sea one perhaps comes closest to an understanding when, despite the end of their marital relationship, Dr. W angel and his second wife Ellida pick up the threads once again. Moreover, here the husband does give his wife a choice between staying back or returning to the man she had once been engaged to.Ellida stays back, anticipating the Shavian Candida, (published ten years later) who also chooses to stay back with her husband Rev. James Morell. The first noticeable fact about the Helmer marriage is that the husband uses baby-talk with his wife Nora. She in return, plays the baby, observes McFarlane who is of the opinion that Nora has this tendency of doing things that her husband disapproves of and since a man cannot even imagine being set aside by his wife, complications increase.
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    As is common knowledge, any playwright dealing with the theme of marriage can either bring into focus "negotiated" unions or a love relationship ending in matrimony. But, in A Doll's House Ibsen experiments with a variety of relationships. He has included a marriage of convenience too and also highlighted motives behind such unions. However, Mrs. Kristine Linde's marriage to a man with money is for a familial cause whereas in John Gabriel Borkman, the protagonist of the same name deserted his love Ella and married her twin Gunhild for the post of a bank-manager. Norwegian law, as stated earlier, disallows forcible marriages and looks upon coercion as a crime. In A Doll's House no one is forced into a union but at the end of the play, Nora refuses to be compelled to keep the marriage going. She does not ask for a divorce but just walks out and the slam may be taken as her final verdict. Ibsen, without so much as harping on it, underlines the fact that if a wife is deprived of her space and is forcibly silenced, be it with gifts and signs and tokens of love, a marriage will not work and that manliness does not mean keeping a wife underfoot. The moment a wife, like Nora, fears marginalization, she will look for both relief and release. It is insulting to be treated as an object and convention alone cannot ensure fidelity and marital permanence. Pastor Manders in Ghosts may be convinced that seeking happiness amounts to being "possessed by a spirit of revolt" and that it is 'proper' for a wife to return even to a philandering husband but happiness is more than essential for a marriage to last and last well. Conventions cannot be sacrosanct and Ibsen has taken particular care to establish this quite often through female revolt. But, patriarchy will uphold Helmer's stand because men may consider Helmer innocent. All he has lamented is the loss of his personal honour, will be the defence and which husband will not disown a wife whose actions will tarnish his reputation and jeopardize the future of his children? Pro-Helmers will sing his praises for isn't he so caring and so much in love that once he realizes that he has been saved he is more than willing to take his erring wife back? Isn't he generosity and magnanimity personified because he is willing to live with Nora even like siblings by turning a deaf ear to the call of the flesh? Sprinchorn is one of them who holds Nora guilty of not valuing her husband because in the first place, she is not normal. Unfortunately, for them, there are many who find this nobility intolerable.
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    Marriage calls for understanding and compromise but it can never be one-sided with the man as the taker and the woman as a giver, all the way, always. Society has always upheld the role of a woman as an ideal wife and mother. Classical Greece divided space into the andron and the gynaeceum, one for men and the other for women. Ruth Kelso's seminal work on the Lady of the Renaissance evidences male demands and female subservience in the sixteenth century. In the dying years of the nineteenth century, however, Nora Helmer shocked both society and patriarchy by rejecting her husband and deserting her children on realizing that her home "has been nothing but a playroom" and that she ought not to exist only as Helmer's wife, as the mother of three and as the mistress of a home where Torvald Helmer's word is law. Selma in The League of Youth came very close to turning away from her husband Erik but few or none like Nora could dare to give back the wedding ring and also ask her husband to return his. This marriage, with the approval of both the church and society, is no longer to her liking and she takes the initiative to end it. She walks out of a relationship just after Kristine Linde walks into one thereby registering the fact that in this play women have been given the privilege and power of choosing and also of accepting or rejecting both marriage and men. So, it is necessary for us to turn our attention to gender issues. UNIT 6.3: THE 'WOMAN QUESTION' Men and woman have loved and they have also been at war. And, if they have warred it is rarely as individuals and mainly as representatives of the two human categories, male and female, one, to quote George Orwell, always "more equal" than the other. From the days of Aeschylus' Agamemnon, Euripides' Medea and Aristophanes' Lysistrata voices have been raised through drama against male domination and demands have been for justice, for freedom and also for equality. In fact, this is what the Euripidean Clytemnestra states boldly in his Electra written sometime around 410 B.C.: A husband looks elsewhere, and slights his lawful wife, She'll copy him, and find herself another friend. And then the glare of public censure lights on us; The husband's are to blame — but they're not criticised (Euripides: 140)
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    The term 'Woman Question' was first used in France in the mid-fifteenth century and then in England in the Victorian era in discussions on the rights of a woman in her society, ranging from the right to education to the right to vote. We are all familiar with the names of Christine de Pizan of the fifteenth century, Mary Wollstonecraft of the late eighteenth century, Simone de Beauvoir of the early twentieth and Elaine Showalter of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, all who have addressed the 'Woman Question' openly and firmly. Simone de Beauvoir was born two years after Ibsen's death so he was not to know that a woman in France would write a book entitled The Second Sex that would stir a hornet's nest, as it were. Beauvoir's argument is that in this world man is the universal and woman the particular; he is the One, she, naturally, the Other. So, man, again through centuries, countries and cultures, has taken it as his sacred duty, entrusted by society, by religion as well, to break a woman, tame her as Neptune does a sea horse. Can we, I wish to question, read male uneasiness into these actions? Does he fear that if he lets his grip go loose he may lose her for she, he knows, is more than capable of standing on her own? It is common knowledge that specific texts have been chosen by scholars to either prove their point or refute what others might have tried to establish with regard to the 'Woman Question' and Ibsen's 14 Doll 's House with its Nora is definitely one such. That A Doll 's House highlights both the suppression of a woman's rights and her protest against blatant male domination is more than apparent from Ibsen' s presentation of the Torvald-Nora relationship. Ibsen has very judiciously allowed both his men and his women to voice their opinion. Torvald is the complacent male who is firm in his conviction that a woman is a woman after all, subservient to her man. Nora, on the other hand, underlines male inferiority by spelling it out that, "hundreds of thousands of women" have been large-hearted enough to sacrifice their honour for their men. It is indeed a strange social situation for, while the burden of keeping the home and the family in the desired shape has been on female shoulders, the law of the country keeps her in chains and does not allow her to borrow money in a crisis, even for her husband, without his approval and permission. Women , men believe, are tainted from birth , hence the comment that most young criminals have had "dishonest mothers" and this is said with conviction even when before Torvald stands Dr. Rank dying from syphilis that he has contracted from a lecherous father! It may be of interest to note that in 1896, in France, some years after A Doll's House and Ghosts, Eugene Brieux wrote L'Evasio a satire on the indiscriminate belief in the doctrine of heredity.
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    With regard to Nora, Kristine and Anne-Marie, Krishna Sen is of the opinion that in A Doll's House "we find that social convention, economic dependence, and the pressures of adjusting to a male- dominated society have transformed these spirited women into the domestic servant, the drudge and the reluctant schemer."(Sen, 2010: xxvi). I wish to argue that though these 'transformations' have taken place, each of these women have shown men that they can exist and survive, if they want to, without male support. Anne Marie may be a nursemaid but she is economically independent. Kristine Linde is looking for a job and not for a man. Krogstad enters her life quite by chance and even when she expresses her desire to be a part of his life, she is exercising her right to make a choice and live life as she wishes to. Nora too is empowered to take decisions on her own, guard a secret, even though her sentences are more or less punctuated with a ,"... just as you say, Torvald", she finally makes it known that ultimately everything will be just as she desires. Hear her tell Helmer in response to his reminder that her primary identity is that of a wife and a mother, "That I don't believe any more. I believe that first and foremost I am an individual, just as much as you are -or at least I'm going to try to be." (190) Without making a deliberate show of it, A Doll's House , if considered a 'feminist' play, finally registers female victory. Controversy and Henrik Ibsen have never really parted company. Moreover, scholars themselves have difference of opinion regarding Ibsen's stand as a playwright and many like Halvdon Koht, Joan Templeton see him less as a feminist and more as a seeker of truth. Whatever be it, Ibsen's world is peopled with men who are smug, chauvinistic and convention-conscious. And they, like Torvald Helmer and Consul Bernick of Pillars of Society, in many ways anticipate Schwartze of Hermann Sudermann's Magda who snorts, "Modern ideas! Oh, pshaw!" With an unshakeable belief in male supremacy and female subjugation, Schwartze drives his teen-aged daughter Magda out when she refuses to marry the man he chooses for her. Later, he tries his best to make Von Keller, Magda's seducer and the father of her child, marry her and bestow upon her what is most important to him, respectability. Magda, Nora like, refuses to compromise. Hear her confront Von Keller, another Helmer, over conscious of his own reputation, with, "Your child? ...Who are you?" A shocked Von Keller hears her say with pride, "Why should I blush before anyone? I am myself, and through myself I have become what I am." (WEBSITE 11) It is in the quest of this 'I' that Nora too leaves her home and walks out of an eight-year-old marriage. The 'home' in A Doll's House, as McFarlane explains, "is seen as an institution that tends to inhibit the development of the authentic Self'. (McFarlane 1961:
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    xvii). So Nora leaves it behind. As a protest against social injustice, the heroine of Bjørnson's The Gauntlet demands from her fiancé just what he demands from her, "prenuptial chastity". Though the playwright has been criticised for being over zealous in pushing his thesis forward at the cost of the quality of his play yet he has been firm in his disapproval of double standards of men in particular. Through centuries women have been guided by laws made by men. In one of his workshops, Henrik himself said, "A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with judicial system that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of view." (Website 12) If he errs it is because "to err is human", if she slips it is because she is a female who, if not steadied by male hands, will go wayward. As stated, Von Keller, the seducer, in Magda is requested to marry Magda, the seduced, or else she will be tainted for life and not he. Remember what went into the witches' cauldron in Shakespeare's Macbeth? Into the cauldron, the Weird Sisters threw the fingers of a still-born child, delivered "by a drab". It was the woman who had to bear the stigma of carrying an illegitimate child. Anne Marie too pays a price all through for having lost her respectability. Take up Defoe's Moll Flanders and the story is the same. A man may be a philanderer but a woman must be spotless. Hear Julian in Caesar 's Apostasy say that he can change history if only he gets a pure woman. Interestingly, if society has taken it upon itself to break a woman, playwrights have often made it their mission to put the pieces back in place. It is common knowledge that Alexandre Dumas, fils, the son, was not a legitimate child yet the law allowed the elder Dumas to take the child away from his mother. It was her agony that inspired Dumas, fils to create tragic and suffering female characters. In his play The Illegitimate Son written in 1858, the year Ibsen married Suzannah Thoresen, he aired the view that in such circumstances it becomes the duty of the father to marry the mother and legitimize the child. The problem was that a woman was not thought of as a living creature with feelings. Instead, once a wife, she was to be possessed, tamed and guided as Nora is. Perhaps men knew that they had little other than brute strength and social backing to keep a woman home. However, as a writer, Ibsen was himself in a kind of dilemma, somewhat troubled by the tussle between the kind of women he liked and the kind that would meet with society's approval. He was not a George Bernard Shaw who could boldly state that he has written Mrs. Warren's Profession"to draw attention to the truth that prostitution is caused, not by female depravity and male licentiousness, but simply by underpaying,
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    undervaluing, and overworking women so shamefully that the poorest of them are forced to resort to prostitution to keep body and soul together." Rather, like Galsworthy, Ibsen gives everyone a voice. So, if his Pastor Manders in Ghosts has the audacity to teach Mrs.Alving her wifely duties and make her go back to her husband from whom she gets a child infected with syphilis, his Osvald lashes out at the attitude of clinging on to the diseased and the dead. Convention takes a beating also when Nora decides to seek the truth and see who is right, society with its orthodoxy or she herself.. So, on the one hand Ibsen, who admired his wife Suzannah, created the Lona Hessels and Nora Helmers and on the other he either proclaimed , "I am not a member of the Women's Rights League .1 am not even quite sure what women's rights are" or else designed suicides of the mature and independent Hedda Gablers. Ibsen, I repeat, was suffering from indecision. He makes his Nora of one version question man-made law with, "But that law is unjust. It's plain to see that it was men who made it" and as many in the audience would exclaim, Kristine says, "Ah, so you've started taking up the question of Women's Rights." (McFarlane 1961: 119-120) Interestingly, Ibsen has removed this from the final draft. Still no discussion on feminist plays is conceivable without a mention of Nora Helmer who left her early audiences in a state of shock with her final decision of rejecting a husband. And in the wake of Ibsen's A Doll's House with this spirited woman, came many others, some with tell-tale titles like Rachael Crothers' He and She. Unfortunately, through decades, the attempt has been to marginalize Nora as a disbalanced, unreliable, unstable woman. Joan Templeton has argued that critics trying to read 'feminism' into the play may be silenced if Nora were to be held up as a patient of neurosis. So, there are moments when a reader may stop to think and feel that not one of these, the marital disharmony, the gender clash, the walking out etc. would have happened if only Nora Helmer had not borrowed money. Attention thus, automatically, is drawn towards money, filthy lucre. UNIT 6.4: MONEY Many who have read D.H.Lawrence's intense short story The Rocking-Horse Winner will remember the ugly buzz in the house, "There must be more money, there must be more money" coming from everywhere, even during Christmas, and reaching the ears of the blue-eyed Paul on his rocking horse..
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    When Ibsen's A Doll 's House opens, one hears only a faint cry for more money and learns how by dint of sheer good luck, the Helmers' financial position has stabilized. The year before, Nora had worked till wee hours making flowers for decoration but not anymore. Still, Tolvard Helmer is a little apprehensive about his spendthrift wife and says jokingly, "It's incredible how expensive it is for a man to keep such a pet."(112) The Helmers are no Dillinghams of O' Henry's The Gift of the Magi and the love for lucre is such that the opening conversation of husband and wife itself includes comments on spending, on Nora's extravagant nature and ends somewhat with Torvald offering his wife a Christmas gift and she asking for money that can be packed and hung on the tree. This concern with money is nothing new. Avarice has been central to plays from Ben Jonson's The Alchemist to Lord Lytton's Money in 1840 and many more. But, no character in A Doll's House is a criminal though Nils Krogstad has once been compelled to commit forgery. Nora, spendthrift though she is, has never borrowed money for personal fancy or gain. Her husband's life was at stake so she had to take the loan of twelve hundred dollars. She has been paying the instalments regularly and just cannot wait to get the burden off her shoulders. Rather, one of the major causes of the complications in this play is Torvald's abhorrence of borrowing money and his fixed idea of a happy home as one that is free from debts. Unfortunately for him, he has been married to a woman who from her schooldays has been a confirmed spendthrift though not selfish as the generous tipping of the porter proves. Moreover, when accused, she questions disbelievingly, "Isn't a daughter entitled to try and save her father from worry and anxiety on his deathbed? Isn't a wife entitled to save her husband's life?"(137)Even when she thinks of the pots and pots of money, she definitely savours the idea of freeing herself by paying off the debt. Torvald, we may observe, is status conscious and with this comes money consciousness though he does not get exposed the way Nora does. But, to Torvald money is power, the power that the egoist male wishes to wield. Ibsen's Torvald may not ask for money as a Christmas gift but his hankering for a good life is intimately connected with the question of money. For Kristine Linde, money is security for Krogstad it can buy respectability and Anne Marie suffers all through for her poverty.
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    A Doll 's House is not a play about human greed nor does it harbour criminals but there are violations of codes of conduct, there are secret dealings, mention of crimes like forgery and blackmail. Quite naturally attention is drawn towards Ibsen's moral stand. UNIT 6. 4: MORALITY Ibsen's plays and what they conveyed made quite a deep impression mainly on the younger generation in England and Europe, where he was considered a 'progressive' writer. In his home country, however, Ibsen was seen as a moral preacher, more conservative than BjØrnson As far as the world and its inhabitants, male and female are concerned, Henrik Ibsen has no illusions. He knows that there "are two kinds of spiritual law, two kinds of conscience, one in man and another, altogether different, in woman." (Website 12) He is also more than aware of what life consists of, i.e. treachery, duplicity, hypocrisy, falsehood, injustice, domination, suppression and so on. But for these maladies there are antidotes as well and one such is transparency. Hence, in A Doll's House, Kristine Linde asks Krogstad to let the letter remain in the box so that there are no more secrets, concealments etc. in the life of the Helmers. In The Wild Duck too, Gregers considers it his duty to make Hjalmar conscious of the truth so that his marriage to Gina is no longer based on falsehood. To observe and accept the flawed world with its flawed men is a sign of sanity, Ibsen wants us to believe. Peter Christopher Grosvenor very rightly states that Ibsenism, as Shaw presents it in his Quintessence, "is not an ideology but a critical manner of thinking about morality." (Website 13) As stated, Ibsen's plays do concern themselves with the principle of heredity and his characters in A Doll 's House in particular are often judged by their parentage. Helmer is shamelessly blunt as he tells Nora, "Practically all juvenile delinquents come from homes where the mother is dishonest." Ibsen is a keen observer and an intelligent one as well. Nothing has escaped his notice and he has studied men as well as human problems from very close quarters. But there is no active taking of sides, rather he remains true to his words, "I only ask. My task is not to answer". Neither is he one who has viewed the world through jaundiced eyes nor one who like Zola has looked for maggots and found them everywhere. Rather, Ibsen has enjoyed working with complex human kinds, with egoists like Torvald, the ailing like Osvald in Ghosts, the deranged like Irene in When We Dead Awaken. It is a critical commonplace that to him the stage has been more a platform from where he could deliver his
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    manifestoes. So passionate has he been about his mission that plays like Brand (1866 ) and Peer Gynt (1867) are what T.S.Eliot terms "broadcast dramas" propelling his ideas forward. There is much in Ibsen, anti-Ibsenists claim that is scandalous and unhealthy for society. Religion has little or no role to play in A Doll's House even though it is Christmas time. Yet, ironically, Henrik Ibsen of Norway has become an icon and his plays are models for many aspiring playwrights. Social activists quote from his plays as do psychologists for as Krishna Sen explains, Ibsen created "a moral universe in which choice, responsibility, sensitivity and integrity emerged as the touchstones of a meaningful existence." (Sen 2010: Ixxvii) Men and women in Ibsen's plays are human and make mistakes but dark deeds are revealed, the guilty exposed and there are both private and public confessions. In A Doll 's House Nora tries to confess and even though the husband adopts the insufferably righteous attitude till a point, he too begs for forgiveness and wishes to make amends just as Kristine Linde wishes to for a mistake of the past. Moreover, like Michael Henchard of Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, Karsten Bernick of Pillars of Society, also entitled The Pillars of Community, delivers a confession speech and gives the listener/listeners the liberty to pass their judgement on him. All Ibsen's characters have not been deliberately blackened and many, despite having given wrong signals, show that for them it is just 'this far and no further'. Nora will not play with Dr. Rank's feelings once she learns about his emotion and the intensity of his passion. Moreover, though, many of Ibsen's men and women are flawed, there are also the good, his men with a mission like Dr. Thomas Stockmann in An Enemy of the People. Writing has been to him a meaningful exercise and in support, as it were, Ibsen affirms that it has been "like a bath" from which he has "risen feeling cleaner, healthier, and freer." There is thus no denying the fact that there is much that Ibsen wishes to convey and in his eagerness he often repeats, repeats his themes, character traits and attitudes amongst other things. UNIT 6.6: RECURRENT THEMES Ibsen's plays, with the exception of those with tell-tale titles such as Caesar 's Apostasy or Emperor Julian are 'middle class plays" peopled with professors, doctors, bankers, builders and so on. They are "real" men and women with human qualities, oddities, physical problems, psychological aberrations
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    and so on. There is a pattern in their lives and it may be of interest to note some striking similarities in these plays. Marriage and marital relationship form the spine of most of Ibsenian drama and with regard to these one may notice a distinct patterning. Marriages here are not made in heaven and blessed by God, rather, on more occasion than one, the partners just "carry on" even after their relationship has turned cold. Some of his characters, male and female, such as Krogstad, Irene, Kaja, Ella are unlucky in love and have either been jilted or ignored. Husbands and wives are rarely happy together as A Doll's House shows and at times, like a ghost from the past, rise old flames, men/women whom one has deserted or jilted. However, for Kristine Linde, the return of Krogstad proves beneficial. Relationships often lose their meaning in Ibsen' plays. Husband and wife fall apart in A Doll 's House, siblings like Thomas and Peter Stockmann turn adversaries in The Enemy of the People and the twins Gunhild and Ella separate in John Gabriel Borkman Friends betray or stand against friends. Tolvard, for example, does not acknowledge Krogstad as an old friend and also treats the family friend Dr.Rank with scant respect while Nora too is self-centred for a while and hurts Kristine's sentiments, though she apologises for her behaviour later. In Emperor Julian , the emperor , a foe of all Christians, finally dies at the hands of a devout Christian friend and Borkman's secret is revealed by his friend Hinkel and Judge Brack, a friend, tries to blackmail Hedda Gabler and drives her to her end. The atmosphere is claustrophobic in many of Ibsen's plays including A Doll's House but light does filter in now and then especially when the 'mother' figure comes to the forefront. Anne-Marie, a minor character, sets the audiences' mind at rest and the people in the theatre do understand that the children will not drift rudderless in the absence of Nora. Even though Borkman has jilted her, Ella takes good care of his son Erhart and in Mrs. Alving's words in Ghosts Osvald finds some solace. If Aristotle were to look for discovery or anagnorisis in modern plays, he would not have to look beyond Ibsen. Rarely has appearance been so deceptive and rarely has a play misled its audience as much as A Doll's House. Everything here seems to lie veiled. Strange facts are revealed and not just Nora's borrowing and forgery. We discover that the 'child-wife' Nora is not only intelligent but resolute and independent while Torvald wanting to play a knight-at-arms is cowardly, selfish and mean. Mrs.Linde, weak and cringing, goes up in our estimation and becomes Nora' s well-wisher while
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    Krogstad, seemingly a villain, proves to be normal man harassed by the world and its ways. To help facts/secrets etc. to be discovered Ibsen makes liberal use of letters and it goes without saying how the letter-box haunts Nora and how she turns pale as she discovers letters inside. An IOU, a written document, strikes at the root of her existence and thereafter other letters, Krogstad's letter of dismissal, his letter to Helmer disclosing Nora's secret, darken the atmosphere further. The black cross on Dr. Rank's cards shows that he has gone to die. But of all the discoveries the most striking, is, in the words of Inga-Stina Ewbank, Nora's discovery of herself, her own desire as well as her mettle.( Ewbank 1979: 118).Discoveries, however, are not special to A Doll's House. In Caesar 's Apostasy a terrible discovery is made when Julian's wife Helene reveals in a delirium that the child in her womb is not Julian's and a distraught, disillusioned Julian rejects Christianity itself. In The Wild Duck Gregers comes to know that Gina Ekdel was once his father's mistress just as in Rosmersholm Rebecca discovers that her foster father is actually her own father. A reader of Henrik Ibsen's plays will feel more comfortable categorizing them not just as Plays Unpleasant, after George Bernard Shaw, but as Unhappy Plays where, to quote Thomas Hardy, "happiness is but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain" Suicides, accidental deaths, intense mental and physical suffering, Ibsen uses them all to paint his plays grey. Nora walks out on her husband, out of his house and out of his life. In When We Dead Awaken Arnold Rubek and Irene go out to die in an avalanche as do Brand and Borkman and Ella. Hedda Gabler commits suicide, Solness in The Master Builder falls to his death, Hedvig in The Wild Duck shoots herself, Osvald and Dr. Rank, infected with syphilis, a gift from their lecherous fathers, die while little Eyolf follows the Rat-Woman and drowns and the waters that once claimed the life of Beate in Rosmersholm, welcome to its depths both Johannes Rosmer and Rebecca. Quite naturally, the tracing of these patterns direct attention towards Ibsen's dramatic art. UNIT 6.7: DRAMATIC ART It is common knowledge that Norway had at one point failed to appreciate Ibsen and that in the beginning he had to even hide behind an assumed name. And the fact also remains that it was after his death that his genius was fully understood, appreciated and he was hailed as the father of Modern
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    Drama. As into A Doll's House Ibsen has woven in strands of many colour and texture, it would be interesting to attempt an assessment of Ibsen the playwright from our reading of the play concerned. Let us first take a look at the room in Helmer's flat, the setting of the play. The Christmas tree occupies a place of importance in the living room. It marks the beginning of festivity and the well- decorated tree is like Nora Helmer, a beautiful object on display, and it withers just as Nora will wilt. Moreover, Christmas Day looks forward to a fresh new year with new resolutions and new hope. Ironically, Nora Helmer's hope of clearing her debts in the coming year changes to the decision of venturing out to find her own self. For Kristine and Nils, however, it is a good Christmas Day and they can look forward to a good New Year. If the Christmas tree and Christmas season do not indicate what they should i.e. sharing, caring, bonding and also enjoying, the game played in the opening act is anything but a game and Nora's wild dance later on is no dance in the true sense of the word. And, though Nora and Helmer utter sweet nothings, the artificiality is apparent and for the audience it amounts to the witnessing of a play within a play. The two, husband and wife, are like actors on stage seemingly in love but when realization dawns, romance fades and stark reality makes its claim. It may be of interest to take another good look at the decorated living room. There is so much to admire and at the same time there is so much that lies concealed. On the one hand, beautiful Christmas gifts are hidden from view and on the other is the abundance of secrets. Here macaroons are pushed out of sight and a "really big thing", Nora's debt, lies concealed. In other words, inside Helmer's well- decorated flat, the tale of deceit and concealment begins early, long before Krogstad appears to threaten Nora. As a result, here there is neither cosiness nor warmth and the air thickens slowly but steadily. The modern audience will perhaps be reminded of the heavy atmosphere inside Jimmy Porter's flat in John Osborne' s Look Back in Anger. Most interesting is Ibsen's use of symbols in A Doll 's House. That the title of the play is symbolic has been discussed. So we may now look at the other symbols used and their significance. Symbols or external objects like the Christnas Tree, decorated and stripped, have often been included to draw our attention to issues of deeper significance. However, the use of symbols in A Doll's House is not as extensive as, say, in Ibsen's verse plays Brand and Peer Gynt or in some of his prose plays like Rosmersholm. As Una Ellis-Fermor explains, a symbol like the wild duck "acts as a recurring reminder of the mental habits of more than one of the characters and illuminates thereby...hidden
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    selves" (Ellis-Fermor 1964 : 114) The river that flows freely past is in stark contrast to Nora's bondage. Moreover, the same river is to her the unknown future, frightening yet unavoidable for the situation that she is in. John Osborne had more to borrow from Henrik Ibsen. And, no reader of A Doll's House familiar with Osborne's Look Back in Anger will fail to see a striking similarity especially in the use of animal imagery. Both Nora and Alison Potter are compared to frisky squirrels, soft to touch, pliant, easily hurt and kept in chains. Nora is also likened to a "skylark" but she is no "blithe spirit" allowed to pour from Heaven or from near it her "unpremeditated art". Shelley's skylark had the liberty to soar freely while Nora is a captive and all her speeches are rehearsed, taught by Helmer who would if he could monitor her feelings as well. She uses her voice and her words only after she decides to break free. A Doll's House is not a violent play. So, while Osborne's Jimmy is a super bear, quite harmful, Ibsen's Krogstad is a dog but it will not pounce on Nora because, it "wouldn't bite ... pretty little dollies. "(130) In this play, where the Christmas tree stands "stripped, bedraggled" and there is no air of festivity, when Nora rehearses the tarantella, our spirit is not lifted. However, earlier, audience expectation was heightened owing to references to the performance, the costume, its mending and so on. It is ironical that Kristine, who tries to mend the costume, unwittingly creates the largest tear in the fabric of Nora' s happiness. And when Nora actually performs on stage, it is her swan song. The dance may come like a splash of colour inside the depressing Helmer home, Dr. Rank may put his heart and soul into the music and Nora may dance as though her life depends on it, but Helmer watching her with Aristarchus's eyes spoils the fun and the audience will perhaps not clap and cheer as it remembers the purpose, Nora's pathetic attempt to keep Torvald away from the letter box and thereby save her marriage. Why Ibsen introduced the tarantella in the final draft may not be known for certain but this is one of the rarest of occasions when a dance turns tragic, a desperate attempt for survival. A beautiful woman dancing wildly may be a feast for the eyes but the heart is heavy after it is over. This tarantella, however, may also be a symbol of female rebellion, the cry for freedom not just of the body but of the mind and of the soul. A Doll's House is a play that has been written with care. Characters are well delineated and the situations well contrived. Even entrances and exits, as well as the many doors, have been very interestingly used and how effective the final slam is has been discussed time and again. Light too has been used most effectively to illustrate Nora's personal journey. While Nora is talking to Dr. Rank,
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    light begins to dim and Nora calls for the lamp. Can the man say what he wants to when "the lamp's been brought in", she asks. (157) Light and bringing things to light, it is evident, are important to the play. Interestingly, concealment too is equally important. So, note the use of the fancy dress, the wearing of the costume and also the changing of the dress when Nora is about to leave. Ibsen, in a way revolutionized the art of writing plays. Experimenting freely, omitting, altering conventions', adding what he considered necessary, he made drama a vehicle for his thoughts and ideas. He was not to be bound and limited by existing 'rules' and formats. As Bernard Shaw explains in The Quintessence of Ibsenism, Formerly you had in what was called a well-made play an exposition in the first act, a situation in the second and unraveling in the third. Now you have exposition, situation and discussion; and the discussion is the test of the playwright.. The discussion conquered Europe in Ibsen's Doll's House; and now the serious playwright recognizes in the discussion not only the main test of his highest powers, but also the real centre of his play's interest.' (Shaw 1891: 160) The play is neatly structured. It opens with the entry of Nora and ends with her exit and never for a moment does Ibsen allow us to forget either his characters or the purpose of his play. When his characters are locked in a dispute, Ibsen does make use of stichomythia to add power to the dialogue. A play like Henrik Ibsen's A Doll 's House cannot fail to impress. And the impact is so great that even today, a hundred and thirty two years after its first performance, no discussion of meaningful drama is considered quite complete without a mention of Torvald Helmer and his wife Nora and all that happens, right from the time of the latter's entry into her house in the opening Act to the final slamming of the door at the end of the play.
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    UNIT 7: CRITICAL OPINIONS, QUESTIONS AND REFERENCES Structure: 7.0: Objectives 7.1: Critical Opinions 7.2: Model Questions 7.3: Bibliography 7.0: OBJECTIVES A play speaks and the more we probe the more it reveals facts about itself. Hence, scholars have through centuries taken upon their shoulders the highly significant and academically necessary task of exploring and providing for posterity important information on the concerned play. These, as you all know, we term critical opinion which comes to our aid when we try to analyse and assess a text. The first section of this Unit will provide some excerpts from important books. In the next section you will find a list of important critical questions and in the final section a bibliography. As we are well into the world of computers, there is no reason why you should ignore the Internet. I have listed a few important Websites. If you consult Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia, which is extremely helpful, be alert and check whether the website provides any information/instruction concerning the quality of the article, the facts mentioned therein etc. Moreover, you may through a library access JSTOR for scholarly articles. 7.1: CRITICAL OPINIONS Royal Theatre, reviewed by C. Thrane in Illustreret Tidende (Illustrated News), Copenhagen 28 December 1879 (No. 1057, 21st Volume, pp. 145-148). The Royal Theatre. "Don't worry about anything, Nora; just open your heart to me, and I shall be your will and your conscience." With this portrayal, the author passes a hard judgment on men, and the question begs asking, if Helmer really has shown any signs in the preceding action that he would reveal such moral
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    turpitude in this the most serious of moments. His is not a deep nature, he is pretty egoistical, with a touch of sensuality, but his faults towards Nora are close to being of the negative kind, of not acting; he did not want to change what appealed to him so much, he did not want to interfere, where he saw no reason to; he seemed, rather, like quite a good and amiable man. The author, however, saw in the little testimonies what was to come out in the big one. Helmer's whole married life was a witness to the fact he has never loved his wife, but had just "been in love with her", and that he has never had the slightest idea about the moral meaning of marriage. You don't overcome such a big step in your maturing development in a moment, and instead of revealing a better nature, he merely reveal his own self and shows the abyss, which throughout the marriage, has stood between him and his wife. Nora understands this, Nora whose ideal longing for love receives its death blow, and the wonderful happens: having matured to a clear understanding during these days of misfortune, she sees in Helmer merely a stranger, and she sheds her love like the jewellery she has just taken off. The relationship has suddenly been turned around: she is the superior partner, she is the one who judges, and the sentence is this, that she cannot continue in a marriage, which is not a marriage, and she leaves her home, husband and children. It is this, which to weak, mortal people's feelings, is too harsh. Allardyce Nicoll First came a scenario, in which the bare outlines of the plot were presented. Next was a full draft of the plat itself, in which mere suggestions in the scenario were brought to life and enriched. From this draft evolved the play as we know it, taut in construction, character-revealing in its subtly framed dialogues. Throughout, the handling of the speech and the planning of the scenes display a masterly hand at work. The story of the play, of course, is too well known... but we may pause to consider wherein it soars beyond all previous attempts at the creation of realistic drama. First, there is the skill in the use of words. Ibsen has conquered what, after all, is the basic problem of the realistic playwrights-the problem of combining language which shall at once seem natural and be dramatically appropriate.After his long apprenticeship he has at last succeeded in achieving that inner harmony without which the the situations must remain bare or artificial. In addition to this , he has learned how to modify the Scribe formula so as to retain the thrillingly effective and at the same time to hide the presence of the machinery.... In France the playwrights could not get beyond themes of marriage and money conceived in conventional terms: to the question of marriage and money Ibsen gives a startlingly new interpretation. The French Plays had rung the changes on the social relations between
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    aristocrats and members of the wealthy bourgeoise , on love opposed to convenience, on the eternal triangle, and on the problems of illegitimacy. Fresh air blew into this salon and café world when Ibsen took a loving husband as his hero as his heroine a childish creature, adoring her husband and yet, when her eyes are opened to his character, determining that she must leave his house. This is the old theme of marriage and money certainly, but presented with such a difference as to make it seem absolutely new. A Doll's House, because of this novelty of concept, served as a clarion-call to the younger generation of dramatic realities. Una Ellis-Fermor In each of his social plays, Pillars of Society, A Doll's House, Ghosts, The Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck and Hedda Gabler, he presents a precise picture of everyday life in a specific setting, such as might, except for the concentration and selection in character and event, be witnessed by someone looking through the walls of a small-town house and watching the inmates at the crisis of their fortunes. Through the greater part of most of these plays he appears to have no resource but the dialogue ; certainly he never suspends its natural movement to make way for any convention that would allow him to reveal what dialogue excludes. But much more takes place in the people's minds than they would speak in this everyday life, and that 'more' must be communicated to us if the potency and significance of the action are to be revealed. Ibsen does not break his way out of the difficulty, but circumvents it by creating a situation that calls for the elucidation of past conduct and present positions. Norah speaks out at the moment of leaving her husband; it was impossible for her to do so before, yet impossible for her not to do so when challenged. Mrs. Alving and Manders, similarly challenged by each other and by circumstance, disentangle the motives of their past acts upon which rests their present relationship to society. McFarlane (xvii) The more specifically domestic aspects of 'home' are taken up and scrutinized in A Doll's House.Here, as in its other senses, 'home' is seen as an institution that tends to inhibit the development of the authentic Self. For a child to be treated by its father, as Nora was, for exmple or Olaf-as a mere extension of the father' s own life, a repository for his own ideas, and perhaps as the ultimate heir to his own life's work. -is to suffer a complete eclipse of personal;ity.As Nora puts it, and as the title of the pl;ay echoes, it is to endure becoming a doll for the gratification of others, not unlike the way Bernick
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    in his 'home' surrouindings becomes a puppet moving not by its own volition but in obedience to the pull of private gain or public esteem... .For the married woman of Nora's day , the 'home' could be just as disabling as for the child ; Nora finds herself reduced to the level of a home-comfort, something that merly contributes to the huisband's domestic well-being and flatters his ego at the cost of destroying hers. She becomes a possession. Possessiveness is the keynote of such homes ; and crisis, it seems, serves only to amplify it : 'For a man [Helmer says], ther's something indescribably moving and very satisfying in knowing that he has forgiven his wife.... It's as though it made her his property in a double sense: he has, as it were, given her a new life, and she becomes ina way both his wife and at the samre time his child. ' So immediately marriage becomes a microcosm of the prevailing male-dominated society at large.. MODEL QUESTIONS 1. Will it be right to call Ibsen's A Doll 's House a revolutionary play? 2. "Ibsen's A Doll 's House entertains but at the same time compels a reader to think.' 3. Nora has often been called childish and immature. Do you agree? 'It is difficult to tolerate Torvald Helmer." Is this comment unjust? 4. 5. Compare Torvald Helmer and Nils Krogstad. 6. Make a comparative study of the characters of Nora Helmer and Kristine Linde. 7. Critically examine the role of Dr. Rank in Ibsen's A Doll 's House. 8. Comment on the title of A Doll 's House. Discuss. 9. Can it be said that in A Doll 's House Ibsen is concerned with some important social issues? 10. Comment on Henrik Ibsen as a dramatist from your reading of A Doll 's House. 11. Critically examine Ibsen' s art of characterization in A Doll 's House. 12. Critically analyse Ibsen's A Doll 's House. 13. Can A Doll 's House be called a feminist play? 14. What idea do you form of the nineteenth-century Norwegian society from your reading of A Doll 's House?
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    BIBLIOGRAPHY Banham, Martin, ed. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Downs, Brian W. A Study of Six Plays by Ibsen.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1950. Egan, Michael ed. Ibsen: The Critical Heritage. Boston: Routledge and K. Paul, 1972. Elam, Keir. The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. London and New York: Methuen, 1980. Ellis-Fermor, Una. The Frontiers of Drama. Methuen, 1964. Euripides. Plays vol 11 trans. A. S. way, London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.,1956. Ewbank, Inga-Stina. 'Ibsen and the Language of Women' In Mary Jacobus ed. Women Writing and Writing About Women. London: Croom Helm, 1979. Fjelde, Rolfe. Foreword. Ibsen Four Major Plays. Trans. Fjelde. New York: Signet, 1965. Greene, David H & Stephens, Edward M. J.M. Synge 1871 1909. New York: Macmillan, 1959. Knight, Wilson, G.lbsen. Edinburgh and New York Grove Press, 1962. Lyons, Charles R. Critical Essays on Henrik Ibsen. 1987. Lorenz, Dagmar C. G. "Franz Grillparzer". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 January 2004 http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php ?rec=true&UID=5600 Marker, Frederick. Ibsen 's Lively Art. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989. McFarlane, James ed. Ibsen: Plays. India: Oxford University Press, 1961. rpt; 1975. (All quotations from A Doll's House are from this book) McFarlane, James ed. Henrik Ibsen, A Critical Anthology. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970. Mitchell, Hayley R. ed. 'Readings on ' A Doll's House '. New York: Greenhaven Press. 1999. Moi, Toril. Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism: Art, Theater, Philosophy, was published by Oxford University Press in August 2006. Nicoll, Allardyce, World Drama: Aeschylus to Anouilh. London George G. Harrap and Company Ltd. 1949 Shafer, Yvonne ed. Approaches to Teaching Ibsen: A Doll 's House. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1985.
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    Shapiro, Ann R. "The slammed door that still reverberates". in Fisher, Jerilyn; Silber, Ellen S. Women in literature: reading through the lens of gender. Westport, CT: Greenwood. pp. 99—101. Sen Krishna. ed. Henrik Ibsen :A Doll 's House. India: Penguin Books,.2005. Shaw, Bernard, G. The Quintessence of Ibsenism, London: Walter Scott, 1891 Steven Mullaney, The Place of the Stage: License, Play and Power in Renaissance England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. Szondi, Peter. Theory of the Modern Drama: A Critical Edition. 1965 ed. and trans. Michael Hays. Theory and History of Literature ser. vol. 29. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1987 Taylor, John Russell. The Penguin Dictionary of Theatre.Harmondsworth: Penguin. 1966. Templeton, Joan. 'The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism and Ibsen'. PMLA. 104, 1989; 28-40 Tenant, P.E.D. Ibsen 's Dramatic Technique. Cambridge: Bowes, 1948. Weigand, H.J.The Modern Ibsen: A Reconsideration. Salem, New Hampshire: Ayer, 1984. WEBSITES 1. http://litera1n04.tripod.com/dramahistory.html 2. http://www.imagi-nation.com/moonstruck/clsc8.htm 3. http://ibsen.net/index.gan?id=1431&subid=0 4. http://www.lovethepoem.com/poets/henrik-ibsen/ 5. http://www.ibsen.net/index.gan?id=472 6. http ://ibsen.net/index.gan ?id=11183654&subid=0 8. http://www.flowofhistory.com/readings-flowcharts/the-early-modern-era/the-industrial- revolution/fc 114 9. http://www.ibsen.net/index.gan?id=11183652 10. http://explorenorth.com/library/weekly/aa053101 a.htm
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    11. http://www.theatrehistory.com/german/sudermann003.html 12. http://www.notable-quotes.com/i/ibsen_henrik.html 13. Grosvenor, Peter Christopher. "The Quintessence of Ibsenism". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 September 2008 [http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=7514, accessed 28 March 2011. ]


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