The concept of problem play emerged during the 19th Century as a form of a realism drama that addressed contentious social issues

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The concept of problem play emerged during the 19th Century as a form of a realism drama that addressed contentious social issues. The problem play engages characters on a stage who typically have conflicting issues within a realistic social context. Not to mention that debates have been staged for a long time, the problem play assumes the debate presentation to show the dilemma among characters. The problem play addresses realistic social problems such as prostitution, immorality and entrapment of women, particularly in the tragicomic drama of “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen. Quite the opposite of escapism, Ibsen’s play focuses on the realities of anxieties and lives of the bourgeoisie. The concept of problem play as revealed A Doll’s House play shows the struggles of the financially and aristocratic well-off families in terms of education and employment. The goal of Ibsen when creating the play was to expose the toxic societal norms perceived in the society. From the play, the problem play exhibits four major characteristics. For instance, the problems in the play are made the subject of debate by the characters, the action happens in a contemporary setting, and the characters present people’s everyday situations. In addition, Ibsen shows how the characters develop socio-critical perspective by not creating a theater that shows leisure time activity, but a society of soul-searching and of changing events.

A Doll House Play

The main conflict in the play revolves around money. For instance, the main character, Nora Helmer, borrows large sums of money from Krogstad on a trip to save her husband’s life. She does not want her husband (Torvald) to know since if he realized she got the money without his consent, it would hurt his pride. Ibsen reveals the problem of social status ailing Torvald’s character since borrowing money to him was bad to his eyes and unthinkable. Torvald could not even borrow money to cater for his wellbeing due to his stubborn pride and commitment to saving his status quo before their middle class the era. Ostensibly, he is unable to save his face, and Nora exclaims that the money was, “the most wonderful thing of all” that could save their marriage. As a result, Nora leaves Torvald although he does not understand the cause of her action. From the play, Ibsen challenges of the problem of the bourgeoisie mindset during the middle-class era in relation to both male/female relationships and money (Kellenberger 18).

As the stage opens, a dozen of problems is propounded in the A Doll’s House play. The real problem of the play is more concrete on the reflection of the modern life enveloped various styles and aspects to provide the deeper meaning of the marriage relations. Ibsen uses tarantella, symbolism, characterization, themes, dress and costumes, motifs and setting to support his thesis.


Tarantelle is a form of dance that brings a natural course in the play. With what seems like a mere stage device, the fancy dress-ball dance becomes a major episode of the play. Considering the dance movement, tarantelle is not just an ordinary dance. The dance is named after tarantula, a dance that involves dizzying rounds and swift movements which to the victims, are measured as a poisonous sting. The dance creates frenzied, round and hurried-swift movements. After the victim breaks into chattering and laughter, she drops dead at the climax of the dance. The victim only hopes for a miracle to save her from her troubles.

From the play, Tarantelle symbolizes Nora. The play presents Nora as performing a wild and unsettling movement as the tragedy of her nature. Nora appears as frivolous and light on the surface; however, she conceals a dreadful secret underneath. The gruesome climax of Nora’s dolls life comes to surface at the end of the play. Nora’s character is consistent throughout the play, but her nature is filled with inconsequence. To calm herself, she dances and flits since her fear is heavy and poisons her veins because of the problem of women entrapment that prevails in her marriage. Her husband prohibits her attempt to look for money and uplift their social status in an effort to match the middle class in their social niche. Although she could not escape harm from those she loved, she hoped for a miracle from Torvald’s love. After a dull-helpless-melancholy fight, Nora discovers Torvald is naturally selfish and mean. She dances and laughs with a wild desire to set her free from the problem of entrapment, and eventually leaves the doll’s house. And while her heart is broken, only miracle can make her return. She says with clear eyes, “Yes, I have changed my dress,” to symbolize she no longer lives a masquerade life (Siddall 31).

Ibsen uses the tools of characterization to elaborate the concept of the problem play. For example, he uses actions, social status and names of characters to emphasize the problem of women’s living lives of restriction in the play. For instance, he uses the social status to show how different characters are bound to their roles by the society that has set them.

Social status

Arguably, the most important characterization tool used in the play is the social status in A Doll’s House. For example, Nora is presented as a dutiful wife. Her dutiful and submissive nature to Torvald shows the problems housewife women face under their condescending husbands in the social realities. Same as a character of a dutiful woman, she flirts, begs and even dances to the tune of her husband, Torvald. She is almost child-like when she is communicating with her husband. Although she seems playful, she behaves obediently in his presence and coaxes for favor in spite of the fact that she should be communicating with him as equals. She is an example of how women live in restrictive families under the husband’s condescending   prowess. It becomes a problem to women liberalization since throughout the play; Torvald chides her gently, and she naturally responds to his criticism in a dutiful manner and as a loyal pet. In addition, the characters in the play represent specific roles that help to expose the problem of family conflicts. For instance, Christine stays happy as a way of fulfilling her role of being a dutiful woman while Torvald remains as the dominant husband. Krogstad struggles to maintain his social status despite what the community perceives of him for committing crimes of forgeries of signatures at the bank. For the majority of characters in the play, social status is their dominant feature (Ibsen 90).


Most dramas use actions of characters to define them. Ibsen uses character actions to display the problem of people struggling to keep their social status. For example, Krostad spends a lot of hi.............

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