A Doll’s House and The Cherry Orchard Essays

Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard were famous for the way in which they depicted the changing of cultures. Both plays act as a sort of social commentary during times of widespread liberation, and use the contortive nature of these seemingly stereotypical characters’ actions to speak about groups of people as a whole. Throughout the course of both plays, this subversion of how different groups of people were typically perceived created a distinct contrast which often shocked and appalled audiences of the time. However, the effects of these plays were felt long after they were presented.

Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, written in 1879, is set in late-19th century Norway. Upon publication, Ibsen’s biting commentary on 19th century marriage stereotypes created widespread uproar. In the play’s first act, the viewer is introduced to a young married couple by the names of Nora and Torvald. In tune with stereotypes of the time, the relationship is controlled almost dictatorially by the husband. Nora is often treated by Torvald the way one might expect a father to treat his daughter. For instance, Torvald incessantly refers to Nora by child-like nicknames such as “my little squirrel” and “skylark” and often speaks to her in a condescending manner. Nora, who acts as a symbol of all women of that time, initially fits in very well with the common perception of women in late-19th century Scandinavia. Torvald himself even extends this sentiment of male infallibility and female submissiveness to the whole female race, saying, “Almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life has had a deceitful mother (Ibsen 27).” However, throughout the play Nora begins to break the mold of inferiority that was associ…

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…Russian society and social norms. The greatest reminder of this is found in the fact that Lopahkin, the man who Ranevsky once spoke to condescendingly, is now the family’s last hope for survival. Ironically enough, Lopahkin is often glancing at his watch, a reminder that time is changing, and a message that he, himself, is a testament to.

In both Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House the subversion of perception and the insubordination of supposedly inferior characters has massive implications on the overall message of the play. These mechanisms bring to light a multitude of questions about the correctness of social norms and the future of both Russian and Norwegian society. They are powerful reminders of ever-changing society and the nature of human relationships, and they leave the reader at once confused and motivated for change.

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