Friday, June 2, 2023

Review: A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

A Doll’s House is a tightly plotted play about the limited agency and opportunities for fulfillment that women had during marriage. It must have been explosive, cathartic, to see performed when it first came out in 1879. But even reading it in 2023, I was pleasantly caught off-guard by the bold confrontation between vivacious Nora and her superficially doting husband. Building to the climax, I grimaced continuously at how he kept calling her his little bird, his little dove, his little squirrel, his flattery of her looks, his opinions on how embroidery was a much more attractive hobby than knitting, his pressing himself on her despite her protestations, his calling her childlike. “It was the nineteenth century, maybe it was normal” I told myself. To have Nora come to the recognition that his infantilizing, objectifying attitude was the problem in their marriage, that he cared not for her as a person but for her as a decoration in his home, oh it felt so satisfying.

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