A Doll's House, By Henrik Ibsen

1811 words - 7 pages

The themes of “objecthood” and “feminine liberation” in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House as conveyed through the characterization of Torvald and Nora, diction, stage directions and structure in two integral scenes.

Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House conveys the story of a wife’s struggle to break away from the social norms of late nineteenth century middle class Europe. Throughout the play, Ibsen focuses on Nora’s characterization and experiences and thus this leads the reader to perceive her as the protagonist. On the other hand, her husband, Helmer – also referred to as Torvald, is revealed as the antagonist as the dialogue between him and Nora throughout the entire play portrays him as an authoritative figure and oppressor rather than a loving and supportive husband. By comparing and contrasting the opening scene of Act One, from pages 147 to 149, and the closing scene of Act Three, from pages 225 to 227, I have understood and appreciated the shifts in thematic ideas by mainly placing focus on the writing style, diction and structure. The theme of objecthood is portrayed effectively in the opening scene through the use of diction applied in the dialogue between Nora Helmer and Torvald Helmer and is further enhanced by the tone of voice of both characters’. The opening scene focuses solely on introducing both characters by allowing the readers’ full view of the characters’ usual day to day interactions and this further enhances the reader’s understanding of the characters’ attitudes and opinions on things. The argument scene on the other hand serves as the climax and turning point as both Torvald and Nora arrive to the point of realization. The theme of feminine liberation is effectively conveyed through this scene, again, through the change in tone of voice and diction applied in the dialogues between the two characters’. As a result of this, we, the readers, are able to perceive an apparent power shift between Nora and Torvald by paying close attention to the diction and tone of voices applied by both of these characters. Overall, both the opening scene and the argument scene are scenes that carry out an important role of conveying the play’s themes of objecthood and feminine liberation across to the reader. By comparing and contrasting the personalities of both Nora and Torvald in both scenes; through their dialogue, diction, tone of voice and the stage directions, the reader perceives, and also understands the reasons behind, the themes conveyed.
Ibsen portrays Nora as a loving, submissive wife and Torvald as a wise reputable, but authoritative husband. In the opening scene, the theme of objecthood is revealed as we become aware of Nora’s treatment by Torvald as more of an object of affection rather than his equal. Indeed, it is through this strange relationship that the earlier conventional thinking of husbands dominating their wives is echoed. Torvald’s characterization is created in such a way that it depicts him as a conformist to the...

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