Ibsen Research Essay Research Paper Ibsen ResearchHenrik

Ibsen Research Essay, Research Paper

Ibsen Research

Henrik Johan Ibsen is the pioneer who unlocked new frontiers of modern drama

and broke all the unwritten taboos of the nineteenth century theater. Henrik Ibsen was

born in Skien, a little Norwegian timber port, in 1828, into a significant prosperous

family which in a few years lost almost all of its valuable resources. Ibsen?s father

overwhelmed by the disaster, lived in a state of despair, while his mother drove herself

into the devotion of an impersonal pietism. These scenes of melancholy from his

childhood recur in Ibsen?s dramas, his parents serving as models of human wreckage. At

fifteen Ibsen left Skien and found work as a druggist?s apprentice(pharmacist assistant),

and, soon after, began to write poems and plays that ridiculed important local citizens. It

is from this perspective we view his contribution to theatrical history. His realistic

contemporary drama was a continuation of the European tradition of tragic plays. In

these works he portrays people from the middle class of his day. These are people whose

routines are suddenly upset as they are confronted with a deep crisis in their lives. They

have been blindly following a way of life leading to the troubles and are them

selves responsible for the crisis. Looking back on their lives, they are forced to confront

themselves. In spite of his life long rebelliousness and frequent clashes with public

opinion, Ibsen returned to Norway in 1891. Henrik Ibsen, author of, A Doll?s, Ghosts,

An Enemy of the People, Wild Duck, , greatly emphasizes the themes of realism,

feminine dependency, and liberated women.

The importance of the theme realism, meaning reality, in Ibsen?s plays is to create

vivid details in the characters personas and the society in which the Ibsen lived in. In

Ibsen?s first play, A Doll?s House, he used vivid descriptive words to describe the way

most middle class homes were decorated and displayed. A Doll?s House takes place in

Nora?s small home in Act I, scene I, ?…furnished comfortably and tasteful, but not

extravagantly…between the doors stands a piano…round table, arm-chairs, and a small

sofa…cabinet with china and other small objects…floors are carpeted?(A Doll?s House,

3). The reader can see that his quote describes the simplicity and inexpensiveness of the

house in which Nora lives in. At this point in time in, A Doll?s House, shows how most

of society is not able to afford to buy luxury items. The main realism in this play that

many adults of today relate to is the collapse of middle-class marriage. Nora a woman of

no freedom disagreed with her husband?s views, which then led to their abrupt divorce.

Since Ibsen saw that his mother and father are not getting along very well, he conveys in

A Doll?s House, that things do not happen as one wants them. For instance, ?A Doll?s

House thus describes in a very convincing manner the process of falling out of

love?(Valency 253). Ibsen uses realism in Ghosts to portray the setting of the upper

middle-class persons? home. Ibsen describes of Mrs. Alvings house as being, ?A large

room looking upon a garden…books, magazines, newspapers…a door leads to the

garden…large panes of glass…?(Ghosts 71). One can see that in this play that in this time

of the society in which Mrs. Alving lives in has the ability to buy luxury items.

Henrik also uses the theme of realism to describe at that incest was quite common in

during his time. Many venereal diseases are passed by incest, which led to affairs and a

corrupt family relationship in the home. For example, ?Venereal disease contracted by

the father is passed on to his son, Oswald, and as the play ends the latter is shown rapidly

sinking to insanity?(Nicoll 228).

Secondly, the next theme is feminine dependency, meaning, a mans need for a

woman?s house-cleaning and baby-sitter. The males or husbands in Ibsen?s, Ghost

expect nothing more than ?tender love? which keeps them active in their responsibilities.

For instance, ?…are founded on the belief that society can move toward a sane, adult

conception of sexual life and that woman can and must be raised to the dignity of

man?(Steiner 148). In this quote one can see that men literally depended on women or

wives for sensual pleasures which gave men or husbands a smuggish personality. This

characteristic not only gives males or husbands a demanding instructor; it makes a

woman?s significance minuscule. In A Doll?s House, the reader can see that Nora is sort

of hypnotized into the instructions of Torvald which makes it nearly impossible for her to

explain how she feels. For instance, ?…childish innocence and inexperience permits her

to assume without question that her husband embodies everything that is good and Nobel,

as does a father in the eyes of a child?(Salome 226). The reader can observe that the

husband who towers so high above Nora has not only allowed himself to give fatherly

solicitude and accustomed livelihood , but out of his free choice has elevated her to be

his wife, to be one with him.

On the contrary, the theme of liberated women, detonating women who stand up

for their rights based on man?s inequality. Nora of A Doll?s House, is an excellent

example for this theme because at the end of the play she finally speaks out about how

society should treat. This play was during Ibsen?s time where women did not have the

right to work, vote, or basically; they didn?t have the right to have their own mind. Ibsen

in his “A Doll’s House” depicts the role of women as subordinate in order to emphasize

the need to reform their role in society. Definite characteristics of the women’s

subordinate role in a relationship are emphasized through Nora’s contradicting actions.

Her infatuation with luxuries such as expensive Christmas gifts contradicts her

resourcefulness in scrounging and buying cheap clothing; her defiance of Torvald by

eating forbidden Macaroons contradicts the submission of her opinions, including the

decision of which dance outfit to wear, to her husband; and Nora’s flirtatious nature

contradicts her devotion to her husband. These occurrences emphasize the facets of a

relationship in which women play a dependent role: finance, power, and love. Ibsen

attracts our attention to these examples to highlight the overall subordinate role that a

woman plays compared to that of her husband. The two sides of Nora contrast each other

greatly and accentuate the fact that she is lacking in independence of will. The mere fact

that Nora’s well-intentioned action is considered illegal reflects woman’s subordinate

position in society; but it is her actions that provide the insight to this position. It can be

suggested that women have the power to choose which rules to follow at home, but not

in the business world, thus again indicating her subordinateness. For example, ?The

moment she doubts the validity of her assumptions, she can no longer accept the

authority of father, pastor, or husband. neither law, nor custom, nor religion will not be

sufficient henceforth keep her in line: she must think for herself?(Valencey 255). In the

end, she is frightened, like a somnambulist who is suddenly awakened in a perilous

place-but her future behavior is predictable. She has become a feminist. Nora throws off

her servitude; she is emancipated and strengthened; and though she leaves the play in

some confusion, she is, on the whole, victorious. The character of Nora is not only

important in describing to role of women, but also in emphasizing the impact of this role

on a woman. Nora’s child-like manner, evident through her minor acts of disobedience

and lack of responsibility compiled with her lack of sophistication further emphasize the

subordinate role of woman. By the end of the play this is evident as she eventually sees

herself as an ignorant person, and unfit mother, and essentially her husband’s wife.

In conclusion, Henrik Johan Ibsen plays are noted of their idiosyncratic

Norwegian characters and for their emerging elements of satire and social criticism.

Ibsen?s works can affect one by creating a real life situation since his ideas are still

expressed in some parts of the world. The universal message is stand up for what one

feels is right which means do not follow the crowd(society).


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