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Elements of Drama Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879)


English 371 Danika Rockett University of Baltimore Elements of Drama Henrik Ibsen s A Doll s House (1879) A Doll s House: by Henrik Ibsen (1828 1906 ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Elements of Drama Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879)

Elements of DramaHenrik Ibsens A Dolls House
  • English 371
  • Danika Rockett
  • University of Baltimore

A Dolls House by Henrik Ibsen (1828 1906)
  • Godfather of modern drama
  • Ibsens father was reckless with money
  • At 16, Ibsen had an affair with a housemaid 10
    years his senior
  • He suffered social humiliation because of their
    illegitimate son
  • Eventually met and married Susannah, whose habits
    and intimate life he portrayed on stage
  • Wrote about one play per year

A Dolls HouseLate Victorianism the Rise of
the Middle Class
  • With so much change afoot, it is unsurprising
    that the new middle class preferred its
    entertainments to be either moral or
    inconsequential. Didactic literature, meant to
    train children and adults in the proper way to
    behave, flourished, as did all manner of home
    entertainments that allowed the middle class to
    escape the bewildering world of their dirty,
    slum-ridden cities.

A Dolls House The New Woman
  • "The New Woman sprang fully armed from Ibsen's
  • The New Woman pushed against the limits set by
    male-dominated society
  • By the end of the 19th century, many of the
    social limitations of the Victorian period became
    insufferable, especially for the people who
    received the brunt of social scrutiny women and
    minorities. They began to rebel and demand equal

Elements of Drama
  • Character
  • Action
  • Conflict
  • Plot
  • Setting
  • Symbolism
  • Theme

What happens in this play?
A Dolls House Important Lines
  • Nora Pooh, we can always borrow until then
  • Nora I mustnt be selfish today Im not going
    to think about anything but your troubles. I must
    just tell you one thing, though . . . . (155).
  • Mrs. Linde Because you certainly couldnt have
    borrowed it (160).
  • Nora It was almost like being a man (162).
  • Helmer I take it youre a widow, Mrs. Linde?

A Dolls House Important Lines
  • Nora Why only mothers? (179).
  • Nora Do you think theyd forget their mamma if
    she went away altogether? (182).
  • Helmer suppose it were to get about that the
    new Manager had let himself be influenced by his
    wife (188).
  • Rank Those who go away are quickly forgotten
  • Nora being with Torvald is very like being with
    Papa (196).
  • Nora Ive been your doll-wife here (226).
  • I believe that before everything else, I am a
    human being (228)

A Dolls House Important Lines
  • Helmer Nora, Id gladly work night and day for
    you, and endure poverty and sorrow for your sake.
    But no man would sacrifice his honour for the one
    he loves.
  • Nora Thousands of women have.
  • What does this exchange imply about their
    perceived definitions of honour?

Elements of DramaCharacters
  • Protagonist the main character (hero or
  • Antagonist the protagonist struggles against
    this character (this is often a villain, but not
  • Foil serves to illuminate a main character,
    usually through contradiction (think of good
    Cinderella and her evil sisters)
  • Confidante someone in whom the central
    character confides, thus revealing the main
    characters personality, thoughts, and intentions
  • Dynamic a character who changes during the
    course of the story. The change in outlook or
    character is permanent.
  • Static a character who remains primarily the
    same throughout a story. Events in the story do
    not alter a static characters outlook,
    personality, motivation, perception, habits, etc.

The Language of Characters
  • Soliloquy
  • Monologue
  • Dialogue

The Language of CharactersSoliloquy
  • A long speech by one character in which the
    speaker communicates special information only to
    the audience.
  • To be or not to be

The Language of CharactersMonologue
  • Like a soliloquy, it is a relatively lengthy
    passage spoken by one character
  • Unlike a soliloquy, a monologue is addressed to
    other characters as well as to the audience.
  • It serves the same function as soliloquy It
    permits an extended discussion of information,
    attitudes, or ideas of one character.

The Language of CharactersMonologue
Act III, p. 226
  • Nora Its true, Torvald. When I lived at home
    with Papa, he used to tell me his opinion about
    everything, and so I had the same opinion. If I
    thought differently, I had to hide it from him,
    or he wouldnt have liked it. He called me his
    little doll, and he used to play with me just as
    I played with my dolls. Then I came to live in
    your house
  • Helmer Thats no way to talk about our marriage!
  • Nora undisturbed I mean when I passed out of
    Papas hands into yours. You arranged everything
    to suit your own tastes, and so I came to have
    the same tastes as yours or I pretended to. Im
    not quite sure which perhaps it was a bit of
    bothsometimes one and sometimes the other. Now
    that I come to look at it, Ive lived here like a
    paupersimply from hand to mouth. Ive lived by
    performing tricks for you, Torvald. That was how
    you wanted it. You and Papa have committed a
    grievous sin against me Its your fault Ive
    made nothing of my life.

The Language of CharactersDialogue
  • Most words in a play are spoken between two
  • This exchange is called dialogue.
  • Demonstrates agreements, conflicts,
    relationships, differing or similar beliefs, and
    motives between characters.
  • Dialogue is the main element in a play for the
    development of character, plot, and theme.

The Language of CharactersDialogue
  • Consider the following lines from Act I
  • Helmer . . . Is that my little skylark
    twittering out there?
  • Nora . . . It is.
  • Helmer Scampering about like a little squirrel?
  • Nora Yes.
  • Helmer When did the squirrel come home?
  • Nora Just this minute . . .
  • How does this exchange reveal the dynamics of
    this relationship?

Elements of Drama Action
  • The specific action is represented in brackets
  • Every actor in a play not only speaks but also
    act and reacts to other characters and events.
  • Torvalds finger wagging at Nora (151).
  • Nora tosses her head as she walks away (158).
  • Mrs. Lindes reaction to Krogstads entrance
  • Inaction, or refusal to act, is also important
  • In drama, the action is often complex
  • Tension builds because of Krogstads veiled
    threats to Nora and his speeches to Torvald,
    hinting at disaster.

Elements of DramaConflict
  • Noras struggle with Krogstad, who threatens to
    tell her husband about her past crime, incites
    Noras journey of self-discovery and provides
    much of the plays dramatic suspense.
  • Noras primary struggle, however, is against the
    selfish, stifling, and oppressive attitudes of
    her husband and of the Victorian society that he

Elements of Drama Plot
  • The plot in a dramatic or narrative work is the
    structure of its action, the main story.
  • The plot is much more than a mere synopsis of the
  • The plot centers on the protagonistthe main
    character (hero or heroine)
  • The protagonist struggles against the antagonist,
    which could be another character or perhaps an
    idea or entity.
  • The relationship between them becomes the

Elements of Drama PlotFreytags Pyramid
Elements of Drama Setting
  • In drama, setting differs greatly
  • from other forms of literature.
  • The stage allows the playwright
  • to avoid describing place (or
  • setting) in great detail.

Elements of Drama Symbolism
  • Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or
    colors used to represent abstract ideas or
    concepts (Think Torvald symbolizes society)
  • In drama, symbols are often much more overtless
    subtlethan in other genres.
  • In plays, symbols will sometimes appear on the
    stage itself to remind the audience of their

Elements of DramaSymbolism
  • The Christmas tree
  • Torvalds diminutive
  • nicknames for Nora
  • Noras dance
  • Noras change of clothing
  • Christmas and New Year

Elements of Drama Theme
  • The theme is the central or fundamental idea of a
    play (or a novel, a film, etc.).
  • A literary work will have multiple themes
  • Think about some of the themes weve discussed in
    this class

A Dolls House Characters
  • Nora Helmer
  • Torvald Helmer
  • Dr. Rank
  • Kristina Linde
  • Nils Krogstad
  • Children
  • Anna-Maria (nurse)

A Dolls House Setting
  • How does the setting function in relation to the
  • What is significant about the title?

Reminders for Next Week
  • Syllabus change for Monday The Ledger and Woolf
    readings are optional.
  • We will quiz on the other assigned readings
  • Mid-Term exam one week from today
  • Multiple choice questions will come from Power
    Point presentations and class readings
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