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Pierce's10th Grade Honors and 10th Grade IB Prep

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Some novels and plays advocate changes in social and political attitudes or in traditions.  In Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, note briefly the particular attitudes or traditions that the author apparently wishes to modify.  Then analyze the techniques the author uses to influence the reader’s or audience’s views.  AVOID PLOT SUMMARY!!!

            Many authors use their works to criticize society.  In A Doll’s House, the author criticizes marriage of the Victorian era.  Ibsen uses dramatic irony and symbolism to influence the reader’s view of Victorian marriage in A Doll’s House.

            Henrik Ibsen utilizes dramatic irony to express contempt for Victorian marriage standards.  Dramatic irony makes the reader aware of the lies in the Helmers’ marriage.  The lies originate from Nora leaving her submissive role as a woman.  Torvald states that there is something bad about borrowed money, when he truly owes his life to a loan.  A wife borrowing money without her husband’s consent was unheard of in Ibsen’s time.  The issue of paying back the loan causes Nora to constantly lie to Torvald about needing money.  The effect of one lie is shown to be countless more lies.  Ibsen breaks away from the unconditional honesty expected between a husband and wife.  Dramatic irony shows Nora’s desperation to escape her marriage to Torvald.  This contradicts a Victorian woman’s everlasting devotion to her husband and children.  A Doll’s House insinuates not every marriage is as pure as it seems.

            Ibsen attempts to persuade that reader that many marriages of his time were not Victorian marriages.

            A Doll’s House contains symbolism criticizing Victorian marriage.  The tarantella that Nora performs represents the secrets she hides form Torvald.  The title of the play is also symbolic.  Ibsen claims women are viewed as dolls.  A relationship between a man and woman can be viewed as a relationship between a child and a doll.  The doll is supposed to look pretty and be played with when the child wants.  Victorian marriage was viewed as sacred and Ibsen reduces it to the relationship of a child and a toy.  Helmer tells Mrs. Linde she should embroider rather than knit.  This relates to the opinion of Ibsen’s time that women should make things that are beautiful, rather that have a purpose.  Torvald is the only person with a key to the mailbox.  He obviously does not trust Nora to handle important matters.  Ibsen criticizes a woman’s inferiority in marriage.

            Ibsen uses A Doll’s House to scandalize marriage of Victorian Europe.  The play contains dramatic irony and symbolism which Ibsen uses to develop his opinion of Victorian marriage.




Some novels and plays advocate changes in social and political attitudes or in traditions.  In Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, note briefly the particular attitudes or traditions that the author apparently wishes to modify.  Then analyze the techniques the author uses to influence the reader’s or audience’s views.  AVOID PLOT SUMMARY!!!

            During the Victorian Age in which A Doll’s House was written, women were viewed as the supporting figure in the family, not only for her husband but also her children.  Being the conscience of the nation, they were to act selflessly in their duties in support of the family.  In an attempt to influence the reader’s beliefs about the role of women in the home and as wives, Ibsen uses irony and characterization to express his idea of a woman as an individual who takes actions to benefit herself, and not solely for the benefit of others.

            From the beginning Ibsen sets to work establishing his views on women’s social position.  In the first act, when the reader is first presented with Nora, Ibsen characterizes her as inferior to men, in this case, her husband.  Ibsen accomplishes this through situational and verbal irony, Nora is presented as the perfect wife who can do no wrong, and who’s marriage is a perfect as Barbie and Ken, and then Ibsen has Nora go behind her husband's back and scoffle down Macaroons, which she had been forbidden to do.  Through these events, we see situational irony in that the perfect wife is not perfect at all, and verbal irony in the fact that Torvald asks Nora about the Macaroons, knowing she has eaten some, but pretends he believes her, and that she hasn’t.  Ibsen is showing not only his beliefs that the woman should be individuals, but also shows how a man should accept a woman’s actions of individuality.

            Ibsen then follows with uses of dramatic irony, in which Helmer is unaware of his wife’s secret debt.  Ibsen is showing us that, unlike in the case of the Macaroons, the actions taken by the wife without her husband’s knowledge, actually prove to be beneficial, and in this case, life saving.  Husbands need to place more trust in their wives, not the other way around.

            However, it is more than simply isolated events within the text that Ibsen uses, but the text as a whole.  Nora is characterized throughout as an ideal extension of her husband’s desires while in his presence and to outsiders, but alone Ibsen shows us her true self, which is very much different.  The text book is a large piece of dramatic irony between Nora and the reader who is led to recognize Nora as an individual, but she does not realize it herself until the end of the play. 

Through this intertwining of irony and characterization of his characters, Ibsen forces the reader to recognize the woman with her own qualities, thoughts, and actions which justify her as an individual who influences the husband, and is not so much a product of his influences.




Authors develop their characters using various types of devices.  Choose one character from Act I of Othello.  Analyze the techniques Shakespeare uses to develop this character, his purpose in doing so, and the effect this has on the reader.  NO PLOT SUMMARY.  Address and answer ALL parts of the prompt.

            In Othello, Shakespeare uses a condescending tone, foreshadowing, and  irony to develop Iago.  He uses these devices to show the reader that Iago is merely a manipulator and a liar, causing the reader to hate Iago because of how he uses those who believe they are his friends.

            Throughout Act I of Othello, Iago tricks Roderigo (who believes Iago is his friend) into believing that by giving Iago money, Iago will be able to help Roderigo steal Desdemona away from Othello.  Shakespeare does this to establish Iago as a liar, because Iago truly could care less about whether or not Roderigo is happy, all he truly cares about is gaining revenge against Othello.  Iago's lies to Roderigo foreshadow the fact that Roderigo ultimately will end up being hurt himself, either emotionally or physically, Shakespeare sets up Iago to hurt Roderigo because the reader sympathizes with Roderigo, while most readers will immediately hate Iago for his lying and manipulation.  Iago is presented in this way because Othello passed him up for a promotion and he wants revenge.

            Hence, Shakespeare uses a condescending tone, foreshadowing, and irony to develop the character of Iago throughout act I of Othello to show the reader that Iago is merely a manipulator and a liar, causing the reader to hate Iago because he uses those who believe they are his friends.



            

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