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Henrik Ibsen and Marriage

Henrik Ibsen is generally regarded to be one of the greatest names in literature, particularly in the playwriting genre. He is even considered by many as the father of modern drama. His contribution the world of literature is simply irrefutable. Probably his best known work is the full length play “A Doll’s House. ” This particular masterpiece of Ibsen had been widely read and staged, it has even become a required reading in many schools worldwide. It is important to note that “A Doll’s House” is only one of Ibsen’s works that has been distributed around the globe.

With Ibsen’s credibility taken into consideration, it would be important to determine what message did he want to communicate. Gender relations, particularly marriage, have been a much discussed issue in today’s world. If dissect Ibsen’s best known work, “A Doll’s House”, and the life of Ibsen we would discover that he is an advocate of equality between wife and husband. “A Doll’s House ” is basically a full-length play about Nora, a wife and a mother. The protagonist of the narrative had expressed her discontent of playing stereotyped roles of being a woman.

The story complicates when Nora had borrowed a considerable amount for hospitalizing her husband, Torvald. But she keeps this as a secret because she thinks that her husband’s pride would be hurt. As the narrative progresses, Nora seems to be gradually detesting her role as a wife. The story would end with Nora leaving Torvald, with the intention of finding her true potential as an individual. (Ibsen) Through the play “A Doll’s House”, Ibsen presented to us an example of a marriage wherein there is inequality.

Torvald seemingly prides himself too much for being the breadwinner of the family. But it is important to consider that Nora is characterized as an intelligent woman. Nora could even be categorized as an empowered woman—a term frequently used today in gender discussions. With the mindset of keeping the pride of her husband from being hurt, Nora had secretly got a job by copying papers, which she had secretly done in her room. Nora was able to come up with a considerable amount, although it is still short of the remaining balance, this is one of her many admirable feats.

However, even though Ibsen is an advocate of equality among spouses, there are some events in his life that would suggest the opposite. There are some aspects of his marriage that would make it hard to believe that Ibsen was an advocate for equality in marriage. In 1858, Ibsen was employed by the Kristiana’s National Theater as a creative director. At the same year he had met and later one married Suzannah Thoresen. Being a writer was not a lucrative source of salary during Ibsen’s time. The couple had to live under very poor circumstances.

He had left his wife in 1864, his priority for marriage could be put in question. For some personal reason, he had left to undergo a self-imposed exile in Italy. It is important to note that he was unable to return to his wife for the next twenty seven years. This particular part of Ibsen’s biography seems to be far from an advocacy for a good marriage. However, if we review the conclusion of “A Doll’s House”, we could detect similarities in the decisions of Ibsen and Nora, his fictional character. Both of them had left their spouses in search of something.

According to Ibsen’s biography, it is only when he had returned from his self-imposed exile that he became a recognized playwright. On the other hand, in the conclusion of “A Doll’s House”, Nora had left her husband to further explore her own self. Nora, as the mouthpiece of Ibsen, expresses a strong statement about marriage, “…I have heard that when a wife deserts her husband’s house, as I’m doing now, he is legally freed from all the obligations towards her…” A very interesting aspect to note is that Nora is suggesting equality as she continue her statement, “…in any case I set you free from all your obligations.

You are not to feel yourself bound in the slightest way, any more than I shall. There should be perfect freedom on both sides. See, here is your ring back, give me mine” (Ibsen 71). These lines are arguably the most resonant lines in the play. And so, we can safely interpret that this is what Ibsen wants to echo in the minds of the audience. Ibsen’s departure from his marriage does not entirely reflect his views on marriage. Even though there are some aspects which can be viewed negatively in his married life, his works tell us otherwise.

Through “A Doll’s House”, particularly through the character of Nora, Ibsen suggests a solution to an unhappy and unequal marriage. In the end of the story, Nora leaves his husband. Ibsen is seemingly suggesting that a wife is just as capable as her husband and vice-versa. If there is inequality, this reflects that a couple does not revere the concept of marriage. Moreover, though we have no idea of what had exactly transpired during Ibsen’s marriage, his works provide us hints about Ibsen’s view of the concept of marriage.

His characters, just like Nora, had served as mouthpieces for Ibsen’s advocacy for equality between spouses. Ibsen’s characters had become effective spokespersons for his advocacy not only because they are unforgettable, it is because they are convincingly human, making it easy for the audience to empathize. Henrik Ibsen is one of the greatest playwrights ever and his works are being staged and read ever since. As a result, his advocacy for equality between spouses had been communicated to a wide range of audience, spanning generations.Ibsen’s contribution to the issue of marital equality is simply irrefutable.

Works Cited

Bellinger, M. F. A Short History of the Drama.. NY: Henry Holt & Company, 1927 Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House. ” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing` 5th Compact Edition edited by edited by Kennedy and Gioia. NY: Longman Publishing. 2006 Pittman, F. S. Flomenhaft, K. Treating the Doll’s House Marriage. Family Process. IL: Blackwell Synergy. 1970

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