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A Doll’s House* By Henrik Ibsen *also translated as A Doll House The first “Modern Tragedy” A Doll’s House was written in prose. It is widely considered a landmark in the development of what soon became a highly popular genre of theater— realism, which strives to portray life accurately and shuns idealized visions of it. Realism • Realism in the arts: the accurate, detailed depiction of nature or of contemporary life. Realism rejects imaginative idealization in favor of a close observation of outward appearances. • Realists rejected the artificial nature of both Classicism and Romanticism and saw the necessity for reflecting this change in attitude in an effective work of art. • They attempted to portray the lives, appearances, problems, customs, and mores (values) of the middle and lower classes, of the unexceptional, the ordinary, the humble, and the unadorned. Realism in Drama • Attempts to create the appearance of life as it is actually experienced. • Ennui- dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest; boredom Ibsen’s Realism “The things that happen to his stage figures are things that happen to us. One consequence is that his plays are much more important to us than Shakespeare's. Another is that they are capable both of hurting us cruelly and of filling us with excited hopes of escape from idealistic tyrannies and with visions of more intense life in the future.” George Bernard Shaw, The Quintessence of Ibsenism, 1913 The Problem Play • A drama that represents a social issue in order to awaken the audience to it. • Henrik Ibsen wanted his play not to be a romantic plot, but to actually address a current issue he felt his audience must acknowledge. Victorian Era- Gender Roles • Men were primarily bread winners. • Women who did not work were considered to be of a higher social class. • Middle class women cared for their children, planned and oversaw the preparation of meals, supervised servants, and attended to social responsibilities. Napoleonic Code • Men were legally equal, but women were subordinate to their husband’s will. • A woman could inherit property, but this right was taken over by her husband’s right to manage what the family owned, including the dowry given at marriage. • A married woman could not freely spend the money she earned. Nora Helmer • Doll-wife- As you read, examine Nora’s role in her marriage. • Examine how each character outside her marriage helps her to understand Nora’s position in her marriage and her ability to act. • Nora “painfully” acquires human attributes by the end of play. What are they?
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