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Dramatic Effects produced by the Addtions and Changes in the Final Version

Uploaded by Shuo Samuel Liu on Dec 08, 2001

(English presentation on A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen)

All great literary writers are very critical about their word choices. They try to select the words and the sentences to maximize the effects on developing the themes of their works. As a famous modern playwright, Henrik Ibsen also chooses his words and sentences very deliberately. In one of his best-known plays, A Doll’s House, Ibsen makes many changes and additions to his earlier drafts in order to achieve the most [appropriate and sufficient] dramatic effects” on the themes, and on the audience and the readers in his final version the play.

The deliberate situation, word and sentence choices are evidenced in three passages in ACT III, which is known as the “discussion” act and falling action of the play.

From the very end of “page 57” to the middle of “page 58”, Torvald describes how, at parties, he “pretends not to know her so that he may seduce her all over again”, and he is very “amorous with Nora” until Dr. Rank interrupted. However, in the earlier draft, Mr. Helmer has not drunk too much champagne and is not so amorous with Nora.

Ibsen emphasized on the mental condition of Mr. Helmer and his acts as a result of his condition. As I know, people’s drunken words often reveal their real thoughts. Since Torvald is not sober, he reveals to Nora that their marriage is just a result of his “seducing” of her, which further demonstrates us that Torvald’s affection of Nora is only for his own enjoyment.

Then, at the end of page 63, Mr. Helmer cries, “I am saved, Nora, I am saved!” instead of “You are saved” in the original draft. The deliberate word exchange from “you” to “I” is used to emphasize that Torvald is much more concerned about himself—his own appearance other than his wife—Nora.

Later, in the middle of page 70, Ibsen added two lines to his draft:

Hel. … But no man would sacrifice his honor for the one he loves.
Nora. It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.

The addition of those two lines illustrates that Torvald puts his honor above anything else, even above his wife who loves him and makes sacrifices for him. Those two lines also reveal the “theme” of the inequality between husband and wife in a marriage. Although all women are willing to make sacrifices for their loved ones, men are not.


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Uploaded by:   Shuo Samuel Liu

Date:   12/08/2001

Category:   A Doll's House

Length:   3 pages (579 words)

Views:   2706

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