Ibsen’s Female Characters in Captivity: An Exploration of Literature and Performance
Christina Kelley Forshey
A Senior Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for graduation in the Honors Program Liberty University Fall 2008
Forshey 2 Acceptance of Senior Honors Thesis This Senior Honors Thesis is accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for graduation from the Honors Program of Liberty University.
______________________________ Linda Nell Cooper, M.A. Thesis Chair
______________________________ Neal Brasher, M.F.A. Committee Member
______________________________ Kenneth Cleaver, Ph.D. Committee Member
______________________________ James Nutter, D.A. Honors Director
Forshey 3 Abstract In Henrik Ibsen’s plays, A Doll’s House, The Wild Duck, The Lady from the Sea, and Hedda Gabler, the theme of captivity is demonstrated in the female protagonists Nora, Hedvig, Ellida, and Hedda. The theme of captivity also serves as a performance guide for the portrayal of these characters. Ibsen’s female protagonists are in bondage to an object or person that manipulates the character’s mental and emotional senses. The character’s inner captivity reaches a climax where a decision must be made to abolish the chains of captivity or forever remain enslaved. Since the nineteenth century, the actor has greatly benefitted from Ibsen’s electrifying work that established the new acting style of Realism. The contemporary actor can apply the theme of captivity to performance by thoroughly reading the text, understanding Realism, creating a character separate from self, and training the voice and body.
Forshey 4 Ibsen’s Female Characters in Captivity: An Exploration of Literature and Performance The words of the great Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), reverberate across the centuries, exclaiming words of poetry and prose, passion and purpose. Henrik Ibsen has written many influential plays that have forever changed western society, dramatic literature, and theatre performance. Henrik Ibsen’s notable female characters continue to illuminate the role of the woman in performance. With the creation of these characters and situations, Ibsen fashions a new style of realistic playwriting and in-depth characterization. In Ibsen’s plays, the female characters often encounter the issues of incest, hopelessness, unjust laws, unrequited love, and suicide. The theme of captivity is also prevalent in Ibsen’s work, encapsulating the female characters in a myriad of bonds. Henrik Ibsen’s scripts A Doll’s House, The Wild Duck, The Lady from the Sea, and Hedda Gabler, demonstrate the theme of captivity as a literary tool for the development of the female protagonist and as a performance guide for the portrayal of the female protagonist. The Theme of Captivity as a Literary Tool for the Development of the Female Protagonist An Introduction to Captivity The term “captivity” connotes images of caged animals, slaves in bondage, and prisoners behind bars. Captivity in relation to the literary development of the female protagonist, and the performance portrayal of the female protagonist, includes all forms of mental and emotional (non-physical) bondage to an outside entity. The theme of captivity as the dominant idea of a literary work, explores the imprisonment of a character’s inner being. Captors using non-physical imprisonment impair the character’s
Forshey 5 normal judgment and passion, forcing the character into mental or emotional subjection. Non-physical captivities attack reason and feelings, claiming control over a character’s interaction with this outside entity. Ibsen’s female characters are victims of mental and emotional captivity to objects, attitudes, and people. Captivity can begin as a voluntary act of submission, but it is not a true form of bondage till the individual is no longer in...