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A Doll's House' - Ibsen's Reflection on Life in 20th Century

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Realism is known as the first modern movement in art. Traditional forms of art, especially in literature, have been replaced by realistic events, which have eliminated almost all forms of romance and idealism. The realist movement emerged in the late 19th century, beginning in France. Realism in literature received a great deal of interest from readers and audience because most people were affected by the events of the World War, they suffered from poverty, the Great Depression, and social hierarchy. Thus, they are looking in literature for what represents their reality and problems of their lives. This is realism, it’s a reflection of reality in literature. One of the realist writers is Henrik Ibsen, who wrote most of his works in order to highlight the problems of realism in the 20th century. Ibsen was keen to write events in his work realistically, choosing middle-class or low-level people, with finances, gender, or uncertainty problems, and then he tried to solve them. Thus, this article will discuss one of Ibsen’s most interesting works, A Doll’s House Play, which reflects realism in the 20th century.

A Doll’s house, one of the most famous plays in 20th Century, it is about Nora, Torvald and some other characters. Nora once secretly borrowed a large sum of money for her husband to recuperate from a serious illness. She never told him of this loan and has been secretly paying it back by saving from her household allowance. Krogstad, is the person who borrowed Nora money and who revealed that she forged her father’s signature. Krogstad threatens to reveal Nora’s crime convince her husband not to fire him. Nora cannot, then Torvald discovers his secret, he wanted to disclaim his wife even though she had done it for him. Later when all is solved, Nora sees that her husband is not worth her love and she leaves him.

Themes of A Doll’s House Play are role of women, appearance vs. reality, and money. These themes are realistic because people in 20th century have the same issues that have been mentioned in the play. The role of women was to sacrifice for all in her life except herself, such as Nora who sacrificed for her husband, but she was not respected by him, she was less than him, accept his orders, and has no identity. Appearance vs. reality, the appearance of characters does not match the realities of who they are, for example, Nora forging her father’s signature. Money is the key theme of the play because it defines the characters’ desires and even their attitudes toward each other, and perhaps if they were the upper class, the rich, most of the problem would not exist in the play.

George Bernard Shaw is similar to Henrik Ibsen in terms of the issues they discussed in A Doll’s House and Pygmalion, the most important of these issues is identity. Nora and Eliza have always been looking for identity. Eliza sought to learn phonics to change her identity to become from high class, as well as Nora, who was fulfilling her husband’s wishes and did not know her true identity. At the end, they both wanted to achieve their identity without the influence of anyone else. Also, feminism is an important issue in both plays, Eliza and Nora were treated badly and exploited, only because they were women, and the male characters in both plays controlled their entire lives.

The last scene in which Nora decides to leave her husband and family and live for herself involves several themes that reflect realism in the play. The first is the search for identity. Nora was almost without identity because all she was doing was fulfilling her husband’s wishes. Feminism, as a woman, decides for the first time to change society’s perception of women and to live independently, although society believes that its role is limited to serving her husband and children. Also, this scene shows the need of individuals to feel individuality, Nora needed to feel that she is a person of value that has nothing to do with her family.

In conclusion, I think A Doll’s House Play is focused basically on the aspects of feminism because Nora is the character who made the difference in the events, and her decision is considered as a massage for all woman to be independent and seek to find themselves.   

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A Doll’s House’ – Ibsen’s Reflection on Life In 20th Century. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from
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