A Doll’s House: Gender Performativity, Quest for Identity and Production Shifts Over Time
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CitationInsenga, Claudia. 2022. A Doll’s House: Gender Performativity, Quest for Identity and Production Shifts Over Time. Master's thesis, Harvard University Division of Continuing Education.
AbstractThis work details how Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House reveals social constructs, gender relations, and collective identity struggles. Ibsen depicts the awakening and liberation of Nora Helmer from her confined, domestic role as a housewife. Nora becomes a symbol for the women in nineteenth century bourgeois society who were perceived as being content with the luxuries of modern culture without being affected by the injustices of a male-governed world outside of their homes. However, analyzing A Doll’s House through both a feminist and humanist lens, will allow me to demonstrate how Ibsen’s performative nature of the play emphasized the importance of freedom from societal and gender constraints of both genders, not just women. I will demonstrate the playwright’s original intention of writing a humanist play by focusing not only on the protagonist Nora being trapped in a patriarchal society, but also on other characters and their interactions with each other throughout the play and their own battles to find their true identities in a closed society. I will reveal how identity exists outside a framework of gender and is instead attached to individual autonomy and independence from a closed-off society. By looking at the struggles all the characters face in the play as opposed to only Nora, we are able to get a more complex idea of the factors that shape identity or suppress identity and gain insight in how these characters are trapped in a construct of performance. Using a text-based analysis in conjunction with interpretations of two performances of A Doll’s House, Mabou Mines DollHouse (hereafter DollHouse) by Mabou Mines Production and Nora by Ingmar Bergman, I will show the notion of gender as a construct and as a performance across the five chapters of this work. Additionally by engaging with scholarly debates and critiques concerning A Doll’s House portrayal of gender and identity as well as examining the changes in the aesthetics of the abovementioned productions of the play will help better understand the evolution of scholarly approaches to Ibsen’s work and the evolution of theatrical performances of A Doll’s House. Furthermore, this work will reveal how these evolutions mirror a changing social, cultural, and political environment that strongly reinforces gender performativity.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37370709
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