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A Comparison of Two Ibsen Works

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Essay title: A Comparison of Two Ibsen Works

Henrik Ibsen’s works Dollhouse and An Enemy of the People can be shown to have both been written by Ibsen not only through characteristic technique such as blocking and character exposition, but also the similarity in the decay of the social persona of characters from the norm and the main character’s heightening stalwart. The later of that statement proves the works to be Ibsen’s writing more effectively because such a commonality is a more direct link between works than such subtlies as character exposition.

Yet why does one care if they can prove if a work is by Henrik Ibsen or not? It is simply so that one can better analyze his writing. If the similarities between dramas by Ibsen can be proven, then it is legitimate to say that one could not only explore why those threads are common between the works, but also to discover other play writes that were influenced by Ibsen and picked up this commonality and implemented it similarly in their own works. This is adequate reason to examine what makes an Ibsen drama unique, or at least similar to his other works, and to expound upon such.

Throughout both plays, each main character exhibits a decay from the norm in their social persona. In Dollhouse, Nora who at first seems a silly, childish woman, is revealed to be intelligent and motivated though the play, and, by the play’s conclusion, can be seen to be a strong-willed, independent thinker. She develops an awareness for the truth about her life as Torvald’s devotion to an image at the expense of the creation of true happiness becomes more and more evident to her. When Nora calls him petty and swears about the house, and when Krogstad calls him by his first name it angers Torvald notably, and this anger at what he sees to be insubordination and improper etiquette heightens her awareness of the falsities being put in place by Mr. Helmer. When it is revealed to Torvald that their life-saving trip to Italy was funded by his wife borrowing money underneath his very nose and across his authority, he becomes very angry, as he very well should if everything is to abide by the social standard of the time By the end of the play, we see that Torvald’s obsession with controlling his home’s appearance and his repeated suppression and denial of reality have harmed his family and his happiness irreparably and escalates Nora’s need for rebellion, which inevitably results in her walking out on her husband and children to find her own independence at the conclusion of the play. Such an act (and exposition of such) would hardly be considered a social standard of the times the play was writ (the late nineteen hundreds, when traits cult of domesticity were being seen throughout the upper classes, and bleeding into the lower classes). Torvald, who appeared to be the strong, benevolent husband archetype at the start of the drama, reveals himself to be cowardly, petty, and selfish when he fears that Krogstad may expose him to scandal. It is such fear that drives him to anger at Nora, which furthermore widens the rift between the wifely self she was, and the independence seeker she is becoming. Torvald defies social expectancy as well, when Nora is leaving. He claims to, “have the strength to change”, which is not a statement that was heard much during the late nineteenth century, when the male was the dominant figure in the household, and the wife was expected to bend to his will, as Nora appeared to Torvald to do at the start of Dollhouse. However, Nora with her new awareness is able to see through this and know it to be just another of Torvald’s masks, one he is using while trying desperately to maintain his control. The play itself defies the norm by exposing the man’s faults and allowing the women to expose them herself openly to an audience. That was practically unheard of during this time, and more appropriate for the 1920s than the late 1800s.

In An Enemy of the People, Dr. Stockmann defies the social norm within the play by holding steadfast to his discovery and openly defying the majority. He makes a discovery that he thinks will help the town, yet when he presses for changes to be made to the baths, the town turns on him. It is now seen that not only have his scientific experiments been a waste of time and will the townspeople suffer, but his freedom of speech and credibility are under attack and scrutiny. He decides the only reason that the leaders have turned against the findings is that they are afraid of the people, the majority. Stockmann then lashes out at the people, for it is the people who are hurting themselves, and if he must make an enemy of them to protect them, then he is willing to do so. These actions are highly odd. It is

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