Josh Belville's Reviews > A Doll's House

A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen
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Sep 27, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: play
Read in September, 2011 , read count: too many

Ohhhh, Henrik Ibsen. Your realism plays just aren't very realistic.

The problem with A Doll's House is not the plot. The plot is fine. It makes less sense now than it did back then, but that's kind of the point: Ibsen was trying to find a voice that wasn't very vocal then, namely, the voice of humanity versus the voice of man. He did it with not very much grace or excellence, but the fact that he did it is reason enough to read this play. It succeeds much better than Hedda Gabler in that regard. Here we see a woman go from ditzy ingenue to mistress of her own domain three acts, and it's awkward, and it's clunky, but it happens and you have to follow it.

Part of my issue with Doll's House is that I find Krogstad and Mrs Linde's story slightly more fascinating than Nora and Torvald. Nora and Krogstad is interesting, too, but for a different reason; namely, that Krogstad is kind of an idiot for pointing out Nora's forgery when he, himself, was a forger. He's kind of all over the place, so eager to make his place at the bank, but the second Christine comes in, well, stop the wagons, because he's got a love boner that won't go away. I guess Krogstad's more emotional and Torvald isn't?

Again, this play wears its mechanics on its sleeve. We don't see these people as people, we see them as conventions. Nora is the proto-feminist; Torvald the emotionless worker; Krogstad the wily romantic; Mrs Linde the desperate widow. They work, but they work in a crude fashion, and I can't imagine what audiences back then thought of this play. They must've been so shocked by Nora's departure at the end that they forgot about the entire previous acts where she was stuffing her face with macaroons and whining about money.

It gets the job done in the same way Wendy's gets the job done when you're starving. Society at that time needed to hear Nora speak on such terms, but the play itself is just a basic foundation with paper thin walls. I rated a "liked it" rather than an "it's okay" merely because of the play's significance in history. It's not a very well written play. Sorry, Henrik.
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