A Doll's House: The Well-Made Play?

        Henrik Ibsen's 1897 play A Doll's House is one that receives accolades even in today's literary world. Its characters are discussed in detail in many different dissertations and general essays. They discuss each archetype and how one or the other breaks the mold somehow. The plot is described as tidy and wrapped in a pretty bow for the audience. However this play may have done or reviewed in the past, it is not up to snuff. Both films, directed in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively, were not that great either.

        The plot in itself makes for a slow moving film. In the modern day, action-packed films with exposition interwoven are the norm. A Doll's House is mostly exposition, with very few scenes of intensive action. Though all the exposition leads to some pretty explosive scenes, the attention of the audience members is stretched so thinly that they tend to lost interest. But the overall plot, though important, is not the focus. This focus is put into the characters and their development.

        Most of the characters fit into a form-fitted archetype. When an author uses an archetype, the characters need to be written superbly to make them believable. This creates a sense of empathy for some of them. Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom), Christine (Delphine Seyrig/Anna Massey), and Krogstad (Edward Fox/Denholm Eliot) are the most empathetic characters in not only the play, but also the films as well. However, the characters themselves are hard to translate into modern day representatives. This is mostly due to the play being in essence a period piece. The character development is done as most plays do, in both dialog and action. Not action in the sense of confrontation, but in the lack of presence. It seems that Ibsen hoped to create distance between characters by promoting their absence from the scene. This specifically holds true when Torvald goes back to work.

        All in all, the slow pace of the plot is counterbalanced by the character development, creating a few explosive scenes. This will tax the audience in patience, but overall the audience will be disappointed.

Joseph Chad Bowlin