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Title: A Doll’s House
Author: Henrik Ibsen
Genre: drama
Publisher: Dover Thrift
Published: 1879
number of pages: 72
my rating: 4/5

A Doll’s House is realistic play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The plot centers on the marriage life of Nora, a seemingly ridiculous housewife who is merely not taken seriously and controlled by her husband Helmer, who has recently been promoted at the bank. Nora has forged her father’s signature to pay for a visit to Italy with her ill husband without his knowledge, making him think that her father provided the money. When her childhood friend, Mrs Linde, is desperately seeking a job, Nora promises to ask her husband to give her one. This threatens the job of Krogstad, a lawyer, who may be replaced by Mrs. Linde. He happens to be Nora’s secret loaner, so he blackmails her, threatening to reveal Nora’s forgery if his job is given to Linde, even though he has also committed forgery before. This leaves Nora anxious, as she travails to prevent Helmer’s reading of a letter from Krogstad; this situation forces her to confront her husband and finally question her role as woman.

Ibsen’s uniqueness is his ability to convey everyday and realistic situations with suspense. Nora is woman trapped in society’s perception of a wife’s role. She is playfully addressed by her husband, who calls her a “skylark” and a “squirrel”, and as Nora herself says in the end, has never addressed her seriously. Although Nora proves that she subliminally understood her hapless role, she seemed unconscious of it, accepting her husband’s ridiculous remarks. At the end, she commits the scandalous doing of leaving her children and her husband, declaring, “ I believe that before all else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are…” and slamming the door shut after herself. Before a woman leaves her husband, she may stay for the sake of her children, but Nora does not do this. She considers herself a human being before she is a wife and mother, and does not let this alter her decision.

According to Sparknotes, Ibsen’s believes that both partners should treat each other equally in a marriage. Nora’s abandoning her husband and children may have been scandalous, and arguably irresponsible, but I think that Ibsen posed that question as a reflection of the society he was living in, which is comparable to today’s.

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The Crucible is a play by Arthur Miller, an adaption of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts, where over a hundred people accused of witchcraft, some of them executed for that.

The Crucible begins with a group of young girls dancing in the forest, doing hysterical things and “conjuring spirits”, which was considered unacceptable in their society. When she is questioned by her uncle Reverend Parris, Abigail, one of the girls who were dancing in the forest, defends herself and the other girls by accusing their slave Tituba of conjuring dead spirits. Soon after, in hysteria, the girls start accusing other people of witchcraft. An investigator, Reverend Hale, and a group of judges are called to the town when Salem is turned into a hostile and terrifying environment of people pointing fingers at each other.

Although it is less popular than Death of a Salesman, The Crucible is a moving play. Through the hysteria of witchcraft accusations, the play focuses on Elizabeth and John Proctor. Abigail, who is having an affair with John Proctor, gets fired by Elizabeth when she discovers this. Now Abigail, like many others, has a chance to take vengeance, so she accuses Elizabeth of witchcraft. John Proctor, ashamed of his unfaithfulness, tries to convince the judge of Abigail’s untruthfulness to defend Elizabeth, who is known for never telling a lie. Now Elizabeth is put to the test in front of the judge to prove her innocence.

The Crucible is Arthur Miller’s response to McCarthyism and Communism, where envy and hostility lingered in the air. The Crucible is very dramatic, even when read. Because of corrupt judges and injustice, many people were executed. To me, the crucial points in the play were the accusers’ chances to admit their involvement in witchcraft and be spared execution. Yet there were memorable people such as Rebecca Nurse who refused to tell a lie and faced execution for that. The superficially impenetrable judges and officials, such as Deputy Governor Danforth and Reverend Hale, are revealed for their hypocrisy when things turn out worse than expected.

A thing I was thinking about while reading the play and after that was Abigail, an untruthful and vicious girl, a bully. She was actually the one who started all this havoc by first accusing Tituba of witchcraft. Girls can be very deceiving.

I highly recommend the Viking Library Critical Library edition of the Crucible. It doesn’t just include the play, but also commentary by Arthur Miller himself and essays and reviews of the play and its production. It also has documents and records of the Salem Witch Trials. It certainly enriched my experience of the play.

An excellent movie adaptation of The Crucible is the 1996 film starring Daniel Day Lewis as John Proctor.


The Crucible movie poster

The Crucible Shmoop studyuide

wikipedia

The Salem Witch Trials

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