When a child’s favorite toy is broken, the child is usually overcome by emotion and unable to function. When that child becomes an adult, the proverbial toy is the social life of that adult and, as with the toy, the adult is protective over it and tries to keep it from breaking. It is no mistake that Henrik Ibsen titled his play A Doll’s House, the toy house being a symbol for the carefully constructed and maintained social structures of adults. By the end of the play, the toy is all but smashed, as typical gender roles are destroyed by a revolutionary woman named Nora. Yet, Ibsen ruined his perfect progressive literature by writing a second ending; Nora, who was originally written to leave and become an empowered individual, sees her children sleeping, meekly collapses in the doorway, and decides that she should remain a hapless housewife for the sake of the children As shown in Critical Reception by Errol Durbach, people didn’t accept his original progressive literature, insisting he write this alternate ending to appease their societal views. It seems that by Ibsen writing an alternate ending, he is making himself and his work succumb to negative social pressure, just as the rewritten Nora did.
For those who have not read the rewritten ending, the change is small in action, but momentous in the message the play offers. With the new ending, the valiant, dynamic Nora is transformed back into the obedient, dependent Nora; The clock strikes midnight, and Nora is reduced to what she always is forced to be. All that has to be written in order for Nora to change her mind is, “Tomorrow, when they wake up and call for their mother, they [the children] will be - motherless”(Ibsen). Those few lines are magically given the power to redefine the entire moral endgame of A Doll’s House. With only seven lines, Ibsen annihilates the revolutionary social actions of Nora, instead locking her and society back into their respective dollhouses.
Ibsen’s play was first premiered in Scandinavia, where it caused considerable uproar. The play itself was released in print two weeks before being performed and immediately sold out. “The buzz in cultivated homes where Ibsen was regarded as Scandinavia’s great teacher” was a only a precursor to the reactions of those who saw it live. It was discussed so frequently and so passionately that many social invitations instructed attendees of an event to not mention A Doll’s House. The Scandinavians’ curiosity was piqued by the strong, avant-garde wife Nora and her unprecedented actions. The population was obsessed, and rightfully so. Literature of the time saw no character similar to Nora. Scandinavia had the freedom to question whether ADH was germane to its society or if it should be ignored. Germany was not given that choice.
After such success in Scandinavia, it was decided A Doll’s House (ADH) should have a run through Germany. Unfortunately, the Germans did not get the...