A Doll's House

Male and Female Space, Onstage and Off, in Ibsen's A Doll's House College

In “Space and Reference in Drama,” Michael Issacharoff argues that diegetic space is offstage space and mimetic space is onstage space. Issacharoff argues that “dramatic tension is often contingent on the antinomy between visible space represented and invisible space described” (Issacharoff 211). This dramatic tension between mimetic and diegetic space promulgates the conflict of Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House. The visible and invisible space in this drama are antinomic; the mimetic represents the domain of women and the diegetic that of men. Nora Torvald is clueless as to the men’s world, the diegetic space. Torvald Helmer appears in the mimetic space, but he does not primarily operate in it and fails to understand the female world. This cluelessness causes mimetic and diegetic space to collide. Ibsen uses semiotic systems, including symbols of enclosure and the roles of the characters, to intensify this conflict that develops between mimetic and diegetic space.

One might argue that the diegetic and mimetic are not representative of male and female space. Torvald, Dr. Rank, and Nils Krogstad all appear onstage. These men, however, are not working in mimetic space. Torvald’s office is offstage. Krogstad only discusses his...

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