Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House
Ibsens's play is a modern tragedy which functions on two levels,
questioning the established social order of the day and presenting the
death of a marriage. Both these events create a great deal of tension,
and combined with the language and actions used by the characters,
make the play very intense.
The main cause of dramatic tension throughout the play is the way that
the difference between the real nature of the characters and the roles
they are assigned by society is presented. This difference is
demonstrated by the disparity in the action of the characters in
comparison with their lexical choice.
The initial impression given by the opening scene is of a happy
traditional household. The first element of dramatic tension in the
play is introduced when
Nora demonstrates this inconsistency when she lies to Helmer about
having eaten macaroons,
Helmer: "Has my little sweet-tooth been indulging herself in town
today, by any chance?"
Nora: "No, how can you think such a thing?"
It displays the way in which Nora is not always entirely honest with
Helmer in order to maintain the inferior and obeying image he has of
her. It indicates that all is not as it first appears, creating
dramatic irony and tension, as the audience are aware of the truth,
yet Helmer is not.
The immediate declarative used, "No" followed by the interrogative "How
can you think such a thing" displays that Nora is firstly attempting
to remove all doubt of her innocence, and then switch the focus of the
conversation to Helmer to distract from the fact that it is she who is
Language is used to create dramatic tension as the different registers
used by the characters in different situations highlight the different
sides to their personalities and the rigid social hierarchy of the day
against which they struggle for individuality.
The contrast between Nora's language as she speaks to Krogstad and
that used towards Helmer shows her increasing anxiety as she begins to
threaten him, "When one is in a humble position, Mr Krogstad, one
should think twice before offending someone who - hm -!" The continual
use of the third person, "one", shows Nora attempting to draw
attention to her social status and so regain some control and
authority over the situation.
The fact that Krogstad is of lower social status yet has the audacity
to threaten Nora would be somewhat shocking to the audience of the
"Do as you please. But I tell you this. If I get thrown into the
gutter for a second time, I shall take you with me."
The monosyllabic words and simple sentences, as well as the imperative
"Do as you please" used by Krogstad, ensure that his threats have a
lot of impact both on Nora and the audience. The harsh sound of the
verb "shall" reasserts his authority and emphasises his power.
Language also builds up tension in the play by displaying Nora's
desperation and therefore informing...