Henrik Ibsen is commonly referred to as the Father of Realism in theatre because of his expert use of social and political changes in Europe to fuel the intricate plots of his plays. He challenged the melodramas that preceded him, and took the romantics out of their exotic locales with swashbuckling heroes to a place where women could be equals and human nature unfolded in three acts through conversation. Ibsen depicted ordinary lives in everyday settings using ordinary speech instead of verse seeking to offer the illusion of reality. Dramatically affected by the rapidly changing world, his plays were empowering to the working class and especially to women.
People were moving to urban areas because of the rise of the industrial age, Darwin had published his "Origin of the Species," Freud was psychoanalyzing, and science was seen as a cure all for modern human problems. In the last half of the 1800s, realism was introduced as an experiment hoping to make theater ...view middle of the document...
This shows how Torvald thinks of her as his little doll or toy and of how cute and inconsequential as a person he feels she is. This may have more of an endearing ring to it if the audience was not aware of the fact that a grown woman is sneaking trips to the bakery and bites of macaroons. Torvald is proud of his new promotion and the ability to care for his family, yet knows his wife likes to spend money calling her names like 'spendthrift' and "featherhead" (Ibsen, Act 1). Nora feels like a doll put properly into her house only after leaving the proper house of her father.
The reader gets insight into Nora's true identity when finding out about the loan and the ways she must connive to pay it back. She states, " "Still it was really tremendous fun sitting there working and earning money. It was almost like being a man."(Ibsen, Act 1). Ibsen clearly makes Torvald a man who is proud and takes his title of head of the household seriously when stating, "Come what will, you may be sure I shall have both courage and strength if they be needed. You will see I am man enough to take everything upon myself" (Ibsen, Act II).
Ibsen shocks the audience in 1879 when he makes his heroine speak the words, "I have existed merely to perform tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and papa have committed a great sin against me. It is your fault that I have made nothing of my life. Our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa's doll-child; and here the children have been my dolls. I thought it great fun when you played with me, just as they thought it great fun when I played with them. That is what our marriage has been, Torvald" (Ibsen, Act III).
Gender roles and how people lived inside those boundaries were the rules of society of that time. Ibsen brought to the stage what was really happening behind closed doors, dropping the fourth wall, and letting the audience view what happens when an individual does not conform to the expectations of that society.
DiYanni, Robert. "A Doll House." Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 2nd ed.
New York: McGraw Hill, 2008. 1105-1153. Print.