A Doll's House

A Doll's House: Breaking With Theatrical Tradition

In A Doll's House by Ibsen, the author takes the preconditions and viewer expectations of the play format established by earlier writers and uses them to shock his audience rather than lull them into oblivion with simple entertainment. Ibsen inherits these preconditions and expectations from two main theatrical trends, the tragic tradition and the well-made play tradition. By manipulating these two formats, he arrives at a theater experience that is truly innovative, one that involves not only the history of the dramatic stage but its future.The history of the tragic tradition is one that determines its various influences and expectations within A Doll's House. The "rules" of this format were set out by Aristotle in his Poetics, namely the 1 - 2 punch of pity and fear: an undeserved fate paired with a similar reality. Audiences watched as an uncomfortably familiar character was wrecked onstage by a cruel and unearned turn of fate. The effect was one of catharsis - viewers fears were fulfilled vicariously through the tragic format, leaving the audience in a purged state where they had witnessed but not actually participated in man's downfall. This format obviously laid the framework for Ibsen - his...

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