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Public Reaction to Henrik Ibsen’s "a Doll’s House"

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Essay title: Public Reaction to Henrik Ibsen’s "a Doll’s House"

“A Doll’s House” Henrik Ibsen

HELMER:Go then [Seizes her arm]. But first you shall see your children for the last time!

NORA: Let me got! I will not see them! I cannot!

HELMER:(draws her over to the doorleft) You shall see them. (Opens the door and says softly) Look there they are asleep peacefull and carefree. Tomorow they wake up and call for their mother, they will be - motherless.

NORA: [trembling] Motherless!

HELMER: As you once were.

NORA: Motherless! [struggles with herself, lets her traveling bag fall, and says.] Oh it is a sin against myself, but I cannot leave them. [Half sinks down by the door.]

HELMER: [joyfully, but softly] Nora!

[curtain closes]

Ibsen’s play upset German directors so much that they forced him to write an alternate ending. Ibsen called the changed ending a “barbaric act of violence towards the play”.

The play was an outrage described by furious Victorian newspapers as “..an open drain” and “a toilet” and met by protestors in several cities. “A Doll’s House” was the Passion of the Christ or Fahrenheit 911 of its time. Loaded with brutal attacks and angry symbolism towards its middle class audience there is no wonder that this play caused so much controversy.

Ibsen’s audience was the new industrial revolution middle class. Prior to Ibsen’s time the theatre was only a place for the aristocratic classes. Ibsen wrote for the middle class by choosing issues and language that would appeal to and offend them.

The new middle class values included hard work, sexual morality, education, thrift and a prudent marriage. Appearance was extremely important and a happy healthy idealized life was demanded by a middle class man and his family.

Furthermore, the most sacred duties (and the only duties) that women were able to take up were maternity, and submission to her husband.

The most obvious way that Ibsen draws class parallels is through character relationships. Christine Linde is more independent than Norah she has been forced to make her own way through life. She practices little to none of the Victorian middle class values (she is a widow, no children, no money).

Norah is the opposite,. She has everything that Victorian society approves. However, Christine is the woman who knows what truth is, She knows what is right and she is the voice of reason who believes that truth is key to any marriage.

Through these characters in this play Ibsen is attacking the lifestyle and ideals of his audience. He is telling them that they are wrong

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