Ibsen ‘s A Doll ‘s House As A Marxist Text
In Henrik Ibsen ‘s A Doll ‘s House, readers can immediately see how social conditions trapped each character in place and did not allow them to grow further in their lives. Barry Witham and John Lutterbie ‘s “A Marxist Approach to A Doll House,” highlights how the characters in A Doll ‘s House are pawns to their economic backgrounds, and in Karen Ford ‘s “Social Constraints and Painful Growth In A Doll ‘s House,” she furthers the argument that Ibsen ‘s A Doll ‘s House is a Marxist writing without formally calling it Marxist. Each character within A Doll House shows the audience a different manner of how a character could be victim of their cultural setting which includes male as well as female characters. Because of Ibsen selecting both male and female characters in his story to endure these social conditions, readers can interpret how this play would be considered a Marxist rather than a Feminist writing.
The play is set within a closed space which makes the viewer feel confined, and this is a metaphor for what is going on socially with the characters in the play A Doll ‘s House; they cannot escape their social standing . Ford explains this by saying, “the characters are being ‘molded by their heredity and environment. ‘” Placing the characters in this closed, small space and having them scramble around trying to get a hold on their position in society which is chaotic. This situation furthers the argument that this is a Marxist writing because they cannot overcome the grip society has on their lives. Nora is often portrayed as a bird-like and her attention is usually spread out over a few things at once. She is placed in this boxed, closed off room, and readers see her bouncing around it much like a bird caught in a cage. This can be interpreted as her trying to break out of this environmental standard of what is expected of a woman, but no matter how hard she tries she cannot break out until the ending of the story. The setting of the play is very important to Ibsen because it is a symbol of the social environment and the control it has over the characters, further proving that this is a Marxist writing.
The character Krogstad ‘s circumstance is a prime argument to the Marxist approach, because he is a man who is victim to his habitat. At first he is seen as a antagonist because he is blackmailing Nora. Later in the play, it is reveled that he is only doing this because has committed a crime in order to provide for his children. The only foe in the story happens to be another person who is crippled by their community ‘s social standards. The sole reason Torvald does not want to employ Krogstad is because he is seen as a bad person to society. Torvald replies to Nora ‘s request to keep Krogstad as a employ by saying if he was to withhold from firing him after mentioning his termination he would, “make myself ridiculous before my whole staff” (Ibsen 1381). His only argument for not keeping Krogstad is because of his image to society. He is paralyzed by his social standing, and is unable to do as his wife request because it would make him look imperfect to his environment.
Another character with a weakness for her social environment is Mrs. Linde who had to marry into money in order to provide for her sick mother and three brothers. For females in this story working is not something that most women prefer to do, and finding work is not easy. In order to provide for her family, Mrs. Linde ‘s only option was to marry someone with money. She even states that because of her circumstances, ” I was not justified in refusing his offer” (Ibsen 1364). Ford comments on Ibsen ‘s portrayal of women by saying they are, “Often being trapped by the world that controls them.” In today ‘s society, women can work and make money just as easily as men, and Mrs. Linde might have not had to marry someone in order to provide for her family. Unfortunately, she was born in a world where women cannot reach the same potential financially as men, and this can be seen as a Marxist approach.
The character Nora is stuck in her role as a house wife which Witham and Lutterbie state that she is, “enslaved by Torvald in economic terms,” and she cannot escape because she relies on Torvald financially. Much like Mrs. Linde, Nora is married to Torvald for financial stability. This is traditional in their world because of their social environment, and for most of the play Nora is content with this knowledge. She believes that financial security will bring her happiness, but little does she know that, “financial enslavement is symptomatic of other forms of enslavement” (Witham 1416). Nora is unaware that having, “heaps of money and not need to have any anxiety” is not what brings peace of mind but personal and human freedom are (Ibsen 1363). Nora is another pawn in her socioeconomic background and in order to escape from that she would have to give up her cookie cutter life style.
Nora ‘s nurse named Anne also provide us with another example of how social environments can control a person. She mentions that she got into trouble when she was younger, which the audience can imagine that being her getting pregnant without being married first. Today this is a common occurrence, but in Anne ‘s society this is deemed as a terrible thing and hurts her place in that society. She can no longer keep her daughter and has to give her up for adoption and she becomes Nora ‘s nanny and then Nora ‘s children ‘s nanny. In other words, she had to give up her own daughter and mother someone else ‘s children. Anne even mentions, “A poor girl who has got into trouble should be glad to” raise Nora ‘s children (Ibsen 1378). Getting pregnant out of wedlock is not what a reader would image someone to be cast out of society as a troubled person, and only aloud to raise other people ‘s children. Anne furthers the argument that Ibsen wrote A Doll ‘s House as a Marxist writing.
All characters within Henrik Ibsen ‘s A Doll ‘s House is a subject to their socioeconomic background. Many readers can interpret that this is a Marxist approach just by reading through it even though they may not understand the idea. It is obvious that the characters within the play are damaged from their society and unable to move forward due to their environment. Ibsen provided many examples of this throughout his story to the point where audiences may not be able to produce a example of a character who is not harmed by their social environment. Ibsen ‘s A Doll ‘s House is a great example that sometimes, “consciousness is affected by economics” (Witham 1416).
Ibsen ‘s A Doll ‘s House As A Marxist Text