We have heard them -- after the theatre: The conception of a problem play as one in which some problem of modern life is discussed by the characters and worked out in the plot is foreign to Ibsen, as to all great artists.
His plays deal with situations and characters from modern life and are, in so far, allied to the problem play. But they do not present problems, in the ordinary sense of the word, nor do they solve them. Joseph Conrad, in Youth mentions two kinds of tales, -- one, the meaning of which envelops it like a haze; the other, in which the meaning lies in the tale itself, like the kernel of a nut.
To these might be added a third class, in which the meaning is partly within the tale and partly without -- a soft, alluring haze, mysterious, far-reaching, and suggestive, lit up, now and then, by gleams of light flashed upon it from within.
Ibsen's meanings belong to this third class. The symbol is clearly given, and the plot; but around them and enveloping them is a meaning of which one gets glimpses, now and again, tantalizing and elusive.
One feels that there is a hidden meaning. He tries to find it by reading deeper into the text. But it eludes him. It is not there. The real problem will not be guessed till he looks outside the play itself, and then only as it is revealed in flashes, by gleams thrown upon it, from within, by character and plot and symbol.
If one would understand a play, he must first understand the character about which the play circles, and he will not understand the character till he grasps the symbol that lies at the heart of it. The problem of A Doll's House, for instance, is not concerned with the marriage relations of Nora and Helmer, but with the character of Nora.
The question whether she had a right to forge the note that saved her husband's life is of far less importance than the fact that she is what she is, and that as she is, she will face life and find herself. In so far as this is a problem, it might be the problem of any playwright, from Shakespeare to Bernard Shaw.
When the play opens, seven years after the forging of the note, and she comes upon the stage, a gay, dancing, twittering, flitting spirit, she is laden with Christmas gifts for the children -- a horse and sword, trumpets and dolls and cradles -- tiny things, inexpensive and useless and full of love.
She carries, too, the little bag of macaroons on which she nibbles, assuring Helmer, when he sternly questions her, that she has not touched one. His "little lark" he calls her, his "squirrel" and "spendthrift.
A deeper note sounds in the music and the reader is startled by the revelation that this flippant creature has been carrying for years a secret and a burden that would have wrecked a heavier nature.
The character is improbable, impossible; yet something in the telling of it holds one to a sense of reality. She has her little presents for the children, the Christmas tree, the macaroons, the surprise for Torvald, and last, and most important, her costume for the fancy-dress ball.
She is to dance the tarantelle, the Neapolitan dance that her husband has taught her. She is eager to dance it well for his sake and for her own. The tarantelle is the play. Coming in the natural course of the play, it seems a simple stage device, a mere feature of the fancy-dress ball, which, in its turn, is an episode of the play.
But the tarantelle is not an ordinary dance. It is named for the tarantula, and its swift movement and dizzying rounds are measured to the victims of that poisonous sting. Round and round, in frenzied, hurrying course, swifter and swifter -- laughter and chatter and flight -- till they drop dead.
Only a miracle may save them. The tarantelle is the symbol of Nora. Its wild, unresting movement is the tragedy of her nature -- light and frivolous on the surface, but concealing underneath a dread secret -- a wound that carries death in its train.
It is the gruesome climax of Nora's doll life, and it is placed where the chief symbol of Ibsen's play is always placed, at the climax of the play. It is the culmination of the plot.Laurie Metcalf is finally trying her hand at a legendary stage character, in the process earning a Tony nomination for best actress in a play.
The veteran screen and stage star — and four-time. A Dolls House. ACT III SCENE - As ACT I. The table has been placed in the middle of the stage, with chairs around it. What does “home” mean and what will we do to protect it?
Noura challenges our notions of modern marriage and motherhood through a portrait of Iraqi immigrants living in New York. As Noura and her husband Tareq prepare to celebrate their first Christmas as American citizens, she looks forward to welcoming a special guest—Maryam, a [ ].
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