A Doll’s House: Ibsen and His Social Experiments

Ibsenian drama has become a part of the social history of the stage and a study of his work gives us a special insight into contemporary writings. The fashionable “theatre of the absurd,” as an example, expressing a private alienation from society, is simply another sort of social criticism which Ibsen first inspired. All his plays are interesting for their social message. Ibsen’s dramas wouldn’t survive today, were it not for his consummate skill as a technician. Each drama is carefully wrought into a decent logical construction where characters are delineated and interrelated, and where events have a symbolicas well as actual significance. The symbolism in Ibsen’s plays is never overworked. Carefully integrated to unify the setting, events, and character portrayals, the symbols are incidental and subordinate to the reality and consistency of his picture of life.

Because of his interest in painting as a youth, Ibsen was always aware of making accurate observations. As a dramatist, he considered himself a photographer also, using his powers of observation as a lens, while his finished plays represented the proofs of a talented darkroom technician. The realism of his plays is supported by his visualization skills. The credibility of his characters, the immediacy of his themes, and his ability to the finest details are the result of those photographic skills at which Ibsen so consciously worked. Among his countless revisions for every drama, he paid special heed to the accuracy of his dialogue. Through constant rewriting, he brought out the utmost meaning within the fewest words, attempting to suit each speech into the character of the speaker. Additionally, Ibsen’s ability as a poet contributed a special beauty to his crisp prose.

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