Classic English Literature
Mazur, Ann M. “Victorian Women, The Home Theatre, And The Cultural Potency Of A Doll’s House.” Victorians Institute Journal 41. (2013): 10-34.
“In this, as in other parlour plays, female characters act to reveal the unsatisfying nature of a woman's position in marriage and take up a hysteric but also simultaneously rational type of acting to get others to behave as they want. In fact, as I will suggest, the popular practice of home theatre —through its original use and awareness of realistic domestic setting, and in its characteristically strong female roles—influenced the reception of Ibsen's A Doll's House (1879) in Victorian Britain. The home theatre, as a genre largely dominated by women, whether cushion-wielding or not, provided unparalleled opportunities for women to write, act, and watch their own versions of Nora in their own houses before Ibsen's play was performed on a public stage. A cultural phenomenon increasingly produced by the middle class, parlour plays often featured Nora-type characters, occupied with their positions as wives and mothers and trapped in their domestic situations and spaces, while the theatricals themselves were actually set and performed in the real-life parlour. While "Romantic Caroline" was not authored by a woman, this play exemplifies how, genre-wide, home theatre worked to provide provocative and energetic female roles, and on a grander scale, unprecedented opportunities for women to write theatre. Ibsen's A Doll's House, in return, highlights what is challenging and perhaps even radical in parlour plays by placing them in a tradition of both feminist thought and establishing the prevalence of realistic private drama before more realist public theatre. Home theatricals, the previously unstudied, ostensibly private activities of women, are actually part of a more public, political history of gender and representation.”
Langas, Unni. “What Did Nora Do? Thinking Gender with A Doll's House.” Ibsen Studies 5.2 (2005): 148-171.
“Since its very first performance and for more than a century, A Doll’s House has for its critics, scholars and beholders raised the inevitable question: ‘‘Where did Nora go?’’ The dramatically effective sortie of the play’s heroine, where she leaves husband and three children in order to educate herself, tends to draw attention to what follows the actual events that take place on stage, rather than to their conditions and political implications. The shocking grand finale of A Doll’s House does obviously contribute to the longlasting discussion and actuality of the play, as well as to the relevance of its agenda. As such it is an incontestable artistic scoop. But it may also lead us to see the play more as a narrative about personal development and courage, and less as a play about gendered patterns of power in a patriarchal society.1 My purpose here is not to criticize Ibsen for his drastic ending – on the contrary, it has indeed proven successful – but to emphasize the ideological structures that come to light during the course of events. Opposing interpretations that on the one hand stress the universal, non-gender scope of the drama,2 and on the other hand the individual metamorphosis of the protagonist,3 I want to accentuate A Doll’s House as an analysis of how gender and gendersubordination are produced. My overall view is that this drama is not so much about Nora’s struggle to find herself as a human being, as it is about her shocking experience of being treated as a woman because of the acts that she performs. In contrast to the speculations concentrated in the question, “Where did Nora go?’’, I see the drama as an investigation into gender difference as a way of acting, which explains my twist to the problem: ‘‘What did Nora do?’’4 In my approach, I am inspired by the American philosopher and feminist Judith Butler and her various efforts to discuss and develop the concept of gender performativity. In her work, she challenges the notion of gender as a sort of natural thing, inevitably tied to our bodies, while instead insisting on the political and emotional effects of how we are physically shaped. As a parallel to Butler’s poststructuralist theory, I will elucidate how Ibsen changes the focus of the nineteenth century gender debate and ideology from nature to culture, from being to acting. In a climate where a woman is economically, legally and politically subordinated because she is a woman, Ibsen shows the effects of this system, and at the same time demonstrates how gender operates on the level of spoken and performed acts. This manifestation must be understood as a sign of the modernity of Ibsen’s play, as well as an intrinsic quality of the dramatic genre as such”