Essay about A Dolls House: A Push To Freedom

     Sometime after the publication of “A Doll’s House”, Henrik Ibsen spoke

at a meeting of the Norwegian Association for Women’s Rights. He explained to

the group, “I must decline the honor of being said to have worked for the

Women’s Rights movement. I am not even very sure what Women’s Rights are. To

me it has been a question of human rights” ( ). “A Doll’s House” is often

interpreted by readers, teachers, and critics alike as an attack on chauvinistic

behavior and a cry for the recognition of women’s rights ( ). Instead its theme

is identical to several of his plays written around the same time period: the

characters willingly exist in a situation of untruth or inadequate truth which

conceals conflict and contradiction ( ). In “A Doll’s House”, Nora’s

independent nature is in contradiction the tyrannical authority of Torvald.

This conflict is concealed by the way they both hide their true selves from

society, each other, and ultimately themselves. Just like Nora and Torvald,

every character in this play is trapped in a situation of unturth. In “Ghosts”,

the play Ibsen wrote directly after “A Doll’s House”, the same conflict is the

basis of the play. Because Mrs. Alving concedes to her minister’s ethical

bombardment about her responsibilities in marriage, she is forced to conceal the

truth about her late husband’s behavior ( ). Like “A Doll’s House”, “Ghosts”

can be misinterpreted as simply an attack on the religious values of Ibsen’s

society. While this is certainly an important aspect of the play, it is not,

however, Ibsen’s main point. “A Doll’s House” set a precedent for “Ghosts” and

the plays Ibsen would write in following years. It established a method he

would use to convey his views about individuality and the pursuit of social

freedom. The characters of “A Doll’s House” display Henrik Ibsen’s belief that

although people have a natural longing for freedom, they often do not act upon

this desire until a person or event forces them to do so.

     Readers can be quick to point out that Nora’s change was gradual and

marked by several incidents. A more critical look reveals these gradual changes

are actually not changes at all, but small revelations for the reader to …

… middle of paper …

…the one written before it. In a letter to

Sophie Aldersparre, Ibsen explained, “After Nora Mrs. Alving had to come” ( ).

The same idea two years letter spawned “An Enemy of the People”. The three

plays share the common idea of characters existing in situations of falsehood

until something causes them to reevaluate their existence. Instead of exploring

their personal freedom every moment of their lives, Ibsen’s characters had their

eyes cast down on the path of least resistance. This is simply a more strict

version of Ibsen’s primary theme in all his works: the importance of the

individual and the search for self-realization.

Works Cited

Brunsdale, Mitzi. “Herik Ibsen.” Critical Survey of Drama. Ed. Frank N.

Magill. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press 1986. pg982.

Clurman, Harold. Ibsen. Macmillan, 1977, pg223. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century

Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon K. Hall. Vol. 8. Detroit: Gale, 1982. pg154.

Shaw, Bernard. “A Doll’s House Again.” The Saturday Review, London, Vol. 83,

No. 2168, May 15, 1897: 539-541. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism.

Ed. Sharon K. Hall. Vol. 8. Detroit: Gale, 1982. pg. 143.

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