Realism in a Doll’s House
The following paper seeks to illustrate realism as presented in the play, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen. The play by Ibsen is a scathing criticism of traditional roles of men and women in the Victorian marriage. The main character is a lady by the name Nora. According to Ibsen, the theatre was a place of truth and brutal analysis. Ibsen implies that the theatre was an institution where the minds and souls were exposed with honesty and intolerable cruelty. The characters in Ibsen’s plays illustrate the naked truth and live life in plain black and white. Contrary to the previous writing styles, realism uses the common language as well as interrupted thoughts. Ibsen used the style of writing to identity with the audience. His plays were associated with the middle-class citizen. They used to work long hours in unfavorable conditions. These people spoke in a basic language which was acquired by Ibsen for his realist plays.
To begin, realism is said to be a literary technique used to illustrate each story element such as setting character traits without the use of explained imagery. When realism is used, literary elements such as metaphors and figurative language are not incorporated. The author explains things as they are without sugarcoating or decorating the language.
Apparently, Ibsen’s play is an example of modern realism. The plays portray the characters and the day to day conflicts truthfully. Ibsen’s play lacks sentimentality and romance. In the plays, nothing is glorified (Gale, 2016). The play lacks happy endings. Instead, the ending is shocking and contrary to what the audience expected. In A Doll’s House, Ibsen has used the secondary characters to contrast dramatically with Nora who is the main character. It is a clever and effective technique. Nora spends most of her time glorifying her marriage and idolizing her husband. The engagement between Nora and Torvald is realistically fake. Nora argues that the marriage has been a sham. She points out to her husband in the play’s conclusion. Nora states that they have been playing at marriage, instead of living in an authentic partnership that comes with mutual caring and sharing. Nora further states that their house has been a doll’s house. Ibsen points out Torvalds’s relationship with black and white without softening any of its aspects.
Ibsen has treated Torvalds character realistically. Throughout the play, the author has revealed his arrogance, authoritarianism as well as selfishness. Torvalds’s concern for his wife has not romanticized (Ibsen, 2008). He doesn’t take care of Nora because he loves her. Instead, he takes care of her because she is his inferior. In reality, he doesn’t take care of her at all. Torvalds controls Nora and exercises his power over every detail of her life. In the play, Ibsen doesn’t glorify or romanticize Nora’s leaving. The author doesn’t care whether Nora would be separated from her children and she would live the world alone. Her future is not easy at all. There is no sentimentality in a doll’s house. The play is filled with painful choices.
In the play, Mrs. Linde has lost her husband and is alone. She has no money, needs a job and has no opportunities. She states that she is alone in the world and her life is empty. She feels forsaken, and there is no pleasure in working with one’s self. She even asks for something to work for. Ibsen has developed his play in pure realism. For instance, Nil Krogstad has lost his job and lives bitterly over the loss of Linde. Krogstad is also bitter for making too many mistakes in life. Eventually, he blackmails Nora in an attempt to take control of one aspect of his life. Dr. Rank is terminally-ill (Hossain, 2015). Ibsen has used realism to show that Rank is dying. Rank is angry about his father and the fact he inherited the disease from him. He states that his poor innocent spine has to suffer due to his father’s youthful amusement. Torvald is overworking and busy. However, he is enjoying significant promotions at work.
Apparently, as it is evident, Nora lives in a world filled with fantasy. The real world around her suffers works hard and resents injustice. Towards the end of the play, Nora suffers the consequence from living in such oblivion (Ibsen, 2008). There are times when she had to work extra hard and join the ranks as the rest. Ibsen has used realism to expose life for what it is. He doesn’t seek to illustrate life as aesthetic beauty. Ibsen creates characters who can be rendered weak by life.
To sum up, the play’s conclusion can also be considered realistic. As a genre, realism doesn’t demand a sad ending. Rather, it requires a conclusion that is consistent and reasonable. Based on circumstance, Ibsen has sadly ended the play. Nora abandoning Torvald is consistent with her character as she has grown up in self-awareness. The play ends on a sad note. Nora falls in Torvald’s arms. Torvald swears to change and begs Nora to stay. Instead, Nora looks for truth in Torvald’s face and ultimately rejects the promises. Finally, it seems that she has no faith in Torvald’s integrity.
Gale, C. L. (2016). A Study Guide for Henrik Ibsen’s” The Master Builder”. Gale, Cengage Learning.
Holledge, J., Bollen, J., Helland, F., & Tompkins, J. (2016). A Global Doll’s House: Ibsen and Distant Visions. Springer.
Hossain, M. A. (2015). Re-interpreting A Doll’s House through Post-modernist Feminist Projections. IRWLE, 11(1), 1-14.
Ibsen, H. (2008). A doll’s house. A&C Black.