“A Doll’s House…exploded like a bomb into contemporary life…ending not in reconciliation but in inexorable calamity. It pronounced a death sentence on accepted social ethics.” What are the targets of Ibsen’s criticism and what techniques does he use to expose the flaws in contemporary Norwegian society?
“For whatever one’s opinion of A Doll’s House as a play may be, there can be no question of it’s startling unconventionality.” (‘Flashes from the Footlights’ Licensed Victuallers’ Mirror, June 1889 ). Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, was unconventional in its themes and in the way in which they were presented. Ibsen questioned contemporary Norwegian society’s conventional male and female roles, the morals of marriage and challenged all human beings, particularly females, to strive to be one’s self and to be responsible for themselves. The tragedy he wrote also had technical originality. The characters were ordinary people, who spoke simple, everyday language and the play was afirst in that it didn;t have the traditional theatrical happy ending. It can be understood that this 1879 drama was excessively criticised by its audience.
At the time the play was produced, Norwegian society was undergoing social and political reform. Throughout the 1860s there had been growing agitation for legal rights for women. The rights for women to work on the same terms as males had been granted only in 1866. However, it was a patriarchal society. Men still had authority over their wives. Women were commonly regarded as superficial objects, whose main concerns were with their family and home. The small towns that had developed in Norway lead to women, in particular, leading a lonely, shut-off life. The people suffered from ‘small town claustrophobia’ and prying neighbours. Ibsen was subject to narrow-mindedness and selfishness from his culture and this prompted him to reconsider ‘old certainties’.
Ibsen once wrote, “that a marriage was not …