Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen

Title: A Doll's House

Author: Henrik Isben

Published: 1879

Challenge: Back-to-the-Classics 2015, a classic play

I have read a couple of plays in my lifetime, but normally skip them without understanding why. A few years ago I had read The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, and I thought it was great.  This time, while reading A Doll's House, I wondered, Why do I instinctively skip plays? when I am thoroughly enjoying this one, just as I had enjoyed The Crucible.  I really do like plays, after all.

I think my favorite part of plays is the continuous dialogue.  It keeps the action rolling and forces the reader to think about what is going on, using his own interpretation, without the author explaining it to the reader. 

In regards to this play, without exposing major details, the main character, Nora, comes to an understanding that her husband has been treating her like a doll, a caged bird, an idol, that he would dress up and expect to perform a certain way to fit his - or society's - mold of a good woman or wife.  She plays the part until a major test confirms her suspicion, that her husband has been egotistically exploiting her for his own pleasure.  One of his greatest offenses is that he does not treat her respectfully, as his equal.

Believe me, both characters in this play are rather odd, though could have been exaggerated for the story's sake.  It is as if Nora were two different people: the woman her husband wanted her to be, and the person she truly is.  Once his true essence was revealed, she threw off her false identity and took up her true nature and confronted her husband.  


What I found disturbing about her final decision, however, was how she left her children; unfortunately, when I thought about the times she lived in, Nora would have never been able to raise her children after leaving her husband because no court would have granted her custody, even shared; and I suppose she couldn't stomach her husband enough to co-exist with him (as he suggested) for the sake of the children.   I don't know that I could leave my kids; I would have just taken the separate room.

And that is my experience with A Doll's House, which has opened the door to other plays in my future. Thanks to Marianne and Hamlette for encouraging me to read it.


Anonymous said...

I definitely used to avoid plays in the past, and I must admit I still do, to a certain extent. For some reason, I always found reading them more difficult than reading prose or poetry. I'm still not entirely sure why! This sounds like a very interesting play, and it obviously forces readers to wonder what they would do if they were in the same position as the protagonist, which always makes for a fascinating reading experience!

Jillian said...
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Hamlette (Rachel) said...

Huzzah! It sounds like you enjoyed it more than I, and I'm so glad you tried it! Are you going to try reading more plays now? (If so, I want to give a shout-out to "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde because it makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. All while making so many sharp, satirical points. Good, good stuff.)

Ruth said...

Plays are a unique way to read a story. I just though it was strange to read a script, but it really is like reading a lot of dialogue. Truly, I'd like to read plays more than poetry.

Ruth said...

I felt like the story or situation was exaggerated, but that is because of the times in which I live. Women and men in my world share equally in all aspects of the marriage; so it is difficult for me to relate to this scenario, although I do not doubt the existence in other times past and in other regions of the world today.

That is why I cannot help put myself in her shoes and think: I would have continued to exercise my true nature (dump the phony act) and stood up to him; then I would have continued to live in the house to be with my kids (knowing I would have lost custody), but the marriage would have been over, unless he changed. But that's my world - not Nora's and Tovald's. It's easy to say.

But I understand what you are saying about the message from Ibsen. it is sad that it even had to be addressed at all.

Ruth said...

I do want to read more plays. I have read The Importance of Being Earnest a long, long time ago; but I have to read it again for TWEM plays. And I look forward to it. Thanks!

Karen K. said...

Thanks for linking your review to the Back to the Classics Challenge! I've never read any Ibsen but this sounds like a great introduction.

Carol said...

I didn't even realise this was a play. Interesting review, thanks Ruth.