Ibsen’s Drama Innovation
The end of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th century is characterized by interesting creative searches in world literature. These searches led to the emergence of new genres and forms of works. Drama was no exception.
The Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen not only occupied one of the first places in the literature of our century. And the point is not only that he posed questions that worried his contemporaries. The talent and innovation of the Ibsen playwright consisted in the fact that the viewer was forced to seek an answer to these questions. Ibsen revealed the complexity and inconsistency of life, made his viewers abandon the traditional division of heroes into positive and negative, perceive them whole, with all their contradictions.
Ibsen’s most striking innovation was in the structure of his plays. Ibsen used the composition, which is called analytical. In such a composition, mystery plays an important role, events that took place long before those presented on the stage, but it was these events that led to the situations in which the characters found themselves. This composition was known in ancient Greece and was used to create a plot tension.
Ibsen’s analytics has a completely different goal, the content of such a composition is not disclosure of secrets, but understanding of all events. Therefore, such a composition required the internal development of heroes. Under the influence of events that occur on the scene, understanding of these events, the discovery of secrets that affect these events, changes the characters. And these changes become decisive in the development of the plot.
In the play “Doll House”, Nora’s final disappointment in her marriage, the realization of the need to start a new life in order to become a full-fledged personality, prepared by the whole development of the action.
Ibsen’s innovation in this play was that it was not an accidental combination of circumstances, but just a reflection of everything that happened that resolved the conflict. The denouement of the drama is the conversation between Nora and Helmer – the first in their entire married life in which Nora makes a real analysis of their relationship. And Nora, and Helmer, and their whole life appear in this conversation in a completely new way – and it is this new look that provides such dramatic effect to the final scene of the “Doll House”, which contemporaries accused of being too cold and calculating.
The heroes of Ibsen are not the embodiment of only certain ideas of the author. They are characterized by all human passions, inherent in everything that makes a person human. In this Ibsen was different from many writers of the late 19th century who did not believe in the possibility of the human mind, in its ability to control human behavior. In Ibsen’s plays, it is the mind and the ability to comprehend reality that give the hero the opportunity to change his fate. And when a person does not find the strength in himself to turn a thought, he brutally pays for it. The “Doll House”, in which Helmer and Nora live, collapsed because the hero could not rise above his own egoism, could not overcome the superstition of society.
Ibsen’s innovation lies in the fact that the playwright revealed new possibilities of analytical composition, filled them with new content. The author’s language played an important role in this. Each phrase that is presented in the text is presented only because it is really necessary – for the implementation of one or even several artistic tasks. Sometimes characters appear in separate episodes as if they are too verbose, talkative. For example, the heroine of The Doll’s House, Nora, in the second act of the play speaks much more than always. But this stream of words, sometimes really superfluous, hides the heroine’s inner concern, her tension.
Ibsen’s intellectual plays required special attention from the viewer to what and how the characters say. He uses the meaningful features of the word. In the play “The Doll House”, in separate sections of the text there are hidden indications of what has already happened, or what should happen, although this is still not clear even to the heroes themselves. Sometimes it seems that the heroes are just saying, but something makes you listen very carefully to every word, and with each phrase the tension grows.
These creative achievements of G. Ibsen found their development in the works of other masters of the word, laid the foundations for a new drama of the new theater of the twentieth century.