Ibsen and Background notes 2011

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					 Does social responsibility impede the rights of
  the individual?
 What does freedom look like in a marriage?
 Can a person contradict these expectations
  and still be a good mother or father?
 Do society’s expectations prevent a parent’s
  individual growth?
 Are society’s expectations of parents outdated
  in today’s world?
English II Honors
 Soliloquy: The act of talking while or as if alone.
 used as a device in drama to disclose a character's
  innermost thoughts
    The balcony speeches from Romeo and Juliet are
 A monologue also has a single speaker, but the
  monologist is either alone on stage or can speak to others
  who do not interrupt.
    Soliloquy is sometimes wrongly used where
     monologue is meant. Both words refer to a long speech
     by one person, but a monologue can be addressed to
     other people, whereas in a soliloquy the speaker is
     always talking to himself or herself .
 Aside: a part of an actor's lines supposedly not heard
  by others on the stage and intended only for the
  audience; words spoken so as not to be heard by others
  present on stage. (Think Zack Morris on Saved By The
   In the garden under Juliet’s balcony, Romeo addresses
    the audience as he speaks of his love for Juliet.

 Foil: a character with character traits directly opposite
  another character within the same literary work.
 Norwegian playwright in        NORWAY

  the late 1800s
 Lived the majority of adult
  life in countries other than
 Family was in debt and went
 Became critical of those
  who controlled society
 A time of great change and upheaval in Europe
 Growth of an educated middle class
 Women beginning to question submissive behavior
 though still expected to be passive
 Believed drama needed to address “modern” problems
 Contains no unnecessary scenes or dialogues – every
  word or action sets up another action
 Portrayed ordinary, everyday characters in middle class
 Used contemporary, everyday language
 “retrospective plot” – major events take place before
  curtains go up – the plot focuses on how characters
  deal with these events
 In style and subject matter, it marked the birth of
  modern drama
   Questions women’s place in society and traditional
    women’s roles
 Outraged government and church officials
 Ibsen forced to write an alternate ending
 Represented a “problem play” – one that examines
  modern social and moral problems of middle class
  people confronting controversial societal issues
 Written in 1879
 The play deals with truth and freedom within the
  framework of marriage and women in society
 Ibsen wrote, “A woman cannot be herself in
  contemporary society. It is exclusively a male society,
  with laws written by men and with prosecutors and
  judges who judge women’s behavior from the male
 Is this still true? Modern examples?
 The importance of an unclouded knowledge of self to a
  development of true maturity
 The contribution of communication to the strength of
  a marriage
 The obligation of both husband and wife to share
  psychological as well as material responsibility in the
  rearing of children
 The importance of avoiding selfish choices in a family,
  choices made without self-knowledge and concern for
 Monologue example:
 m (Invictus)
 The play is a “forceful demonstration of the ways in
 which role-playing and expectation in human
 relationship can stifle an individual’s inner reality”
 (Applebaum, p. iii).
 “Ibsen changes the focus of the dialogue, and begins to
 explore how the play can be a social commentary”
 (Madore 1)
 “The social convention that the play is criticizing here
  is how a woman is simply pushed along from one man,
  her father, to the next, her husband. Her loyalties and
  duties are shifted from man to man, and this duty
  becomes her most important task as a woman.”
Radical Notion #2
 Dialogue—Before Ibsen, characters did not engage in
  very realistic dialogue. “Each play was type-cast and
  created from the same mold as every other play,
  containing no real dialogue between characters.”—
  Ibsen’s characters come alive through use of realistic
 With the play as social
  commentary and the use of
  realistic dialogue, the characters,
  for the first time, had moral and
  emotional depth!!
 They had real issues to be dealt
  with, and had real conversations
  not only with each other but also
  with the audience.
 Honesty in facing facts is a moral requisite to a decent
 Ibsen felt that, rather than merely live together,
  husband and wife should live as equals, free to become
  their own human beings. (This belief can be seen
  clearly in A Doll’s House.) Consequently, Ibsen’s critics
  attacked him for failing to respect the institution of
 Play is based on a real situation in which Norwegian,
 Laura Kieler, secretly borrowed money to save her
 tubercular husband’s life and forged a check to pay the
 debt. When her husband found out about her forgery,
 he disowned her.
3 characters (mainly), 2 days, 1 room
 Nora-Torvold’s wife and house-maker; wants to
  please her husband
 Torvold (Helmer)-Nora’s husband; recently
  became manager at the bank
 Krogstad- works at the bank
 One of the main themes is growing self-awareness
  based on acknowledgement of reality (This was HUGE
  for females in this time period!)
 We also see Nora (a woman) manipulate Torvald in a
  knowing way – she willingly plays into his expectations
  of a woman – likewise revolutionary
 At Ibsen’s 70th birthday party, he said, “I thank you for
  the toast, but must disclaim the honor of having
  consciously worked for the women’s rights
  movement…True enough, it is desirable to solve the
  woman problem,…but that has not been the whole
  purpose. My task has been the description of
  humanity” (Templeton 110).
 Pay attention to indirect and direct characterization:
    what a character says and does and nonverbal details
    —props, costumes, setting—which build up Nora’s
   Symbolism
   Foreshadowing
   Conflict
   Irony
   Foil character
   What is the play’s structure? (cause-effect; problem-
    solution; comparison-contrast; sequential)

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