What one reviewer said about A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, Mary Rafferty:
Henrik Ibsen has written a penetrating play about marriage and gender roles in 19th century Europe. In what was surely shocking to European society at the time, Ibsen attacked the system that reduced women to mere possessions. In a society where women didn't even have the vote, this must have been a shocking statement.
The play is very short at 72 pages. I'm not going to divulge the plot but I will say that I found the play to be average. I will also say I'm not a big fan of reading plays, since they are usually written in a form to be performed, not read as literature. I also fault Ibsen with writing a play that fails to show the consequences of his characters actions. When Nora changes and leaves at the end, we get no information on what happens to her children, who have now been officially abandoned by their mother. In this way, Ibsen's play can be seen as a precursor to today's problems, where both men and women duck out of the family life. While this may be "liberating" to the woman (or the man, for that matter), it doesn't bode well for the kids. Maybe Ibsen could have written a sequel showing the kids growing up without a mother and getting hooked on liquor, or getting pregnant at age thirteen.
This play is most likely a big hit in the feminist cliques and the "find yourself" crowd. For me, I'd have rather read something else. It still had some good points, though. The dialogue at times was pretty snappy, and I kept picturing actresses that might play Nora as I read through the play. Ibsen is also certainly adept at characterization and pacing. Overall, average.
Artfully written, Henrik Ibsen's The Doll's House is justly recognized as a landmark contribution to modern theater. The play is richly symbolic and served as a bold attack on the conservative ideals of his time.
The play revolves around Nora and her husband Torvald. Nora is a spirited young woman whose compassion and intelligence must be masked by her childish and supplicating behaviour -- thanks to the expectations of her society. Torvald, on the other hand, plays the patronizing chauvanist who's self-centeredness makes him oblivious to the realities of his world. Despite their unbalanced roles, all is well in their peaceful family until a "crime" from Nora's past comes back to haunt her and a struggle ensues.
(Be warned, however, that the purpose of the book was to provoke thought and incite revolution. Do not expect to leave the book with a sense of smug satisfaction at having read a sort of "happy ending". Characters in the book become representatives of the people in their society, and their actions become symbolic. Just prepare yourself to wade through a myriad of ironies as you go along.)
So in short, if you'd like a joy-ride through one of the key pieces of literature that helped to spark the movement towards female liberation, and enjoy reading books filled with irony, don't miss out on this one. But if that sort of thing isn't your cup of tea, I'd recommend you try picking something else up instead.
verdict : 10/10
Download The Doll's House from Project Gutenberg
or find a paper copy
Other books by Henrik:
- An Enemy Of The People
- Hedda Gabler
- The Lady From The Sea
- The Master Builder
- Pillars of Society
- When We Dead Awaken
- Early Plays
- Little Eyolf
- The Feast at Solhoug