Chapter II- Overview of Doll's House and Mother Courage and Her Children
A Doll's House is probably the most famous and best-known of Ibsen's plays . Henrik Ibsen plays were intended to arouse and awaken the audience. They appeal to the intellect rather than the emotions, and lay their emphasis more on characterization than plot. Ibsen raised the drama from the level of pure entertainment to that of an effective means of self-discovery and enlightenment. Ibsen uses the retrospective method by which a situation is devel oped rather than a story told. His skill lies in his manipulating the threads of his plot in such a way ‘that each revelation of the past is linked (by ca use or effect) to some turn in the revelation of the character which forwards the immediate action of the play ' . Ibsen employed this method, beautifully in A Doll's House in a well-defined and set pattern: He presents first of all an idyllic picture of a household living its everyday life. Then this little fenced-in world is suddenly broken into by a visitor from the world outside. He or she is an old friend of the family who has not been seen for several years. These meetings of old friends are the pivot of early all Ibsen's plays and they are followed up by a perfectly natural exchange of recollections and enquiries about the intervening period during which the friends have not seen one another. It is these enquiries which open up old wounds and bring about catastrophe.
The seeds of A Doll's House may be found in The League of Youth where Selema's outburst i n the third act almost epitomizes the theme of the later play: ‘‘how I've longed to share your troubles! But if ever I asked about anything I was sent about my business with a clever joke. You dressed me like a doll, and played with me as the play with a child. Oh it would have been so wonderful to suffer with you. I'm a serious person, with a longing for all the higher, more inspiring things in life.'' (Ibsen , 8)
The wife in the play ends by having no idea of what is right or wrong; natural feelings on the one hand and beliefs in authority on the other have altogether bewildered her. A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is an exclusively masculine society , with laws framed by men and with a judicial system that judges famine conduct from a masculine point of view. She has committed forgery, and she is proud of it, for she did it out of love fo r her husband, to save his life. But this husband with his commonplace principles of honour is on the side of the law and regards the question with masculine eyes. Spiritual conflicts, oppressed and b ewildered by the belief in authority, she loses faith in her moral right and ability to bring up children. A mother in modern society, like certain insects who go away and die when she has done her duty in the propagation of the race, love of life, home, husband, children and family. Here and there a womanly shaking-off of her thoughts, sudden returns of anxiety and terror she must bear it all alone. The catastrophe approaches, inexorably, inevitably, despair, conflict and destruction. As a matter of fact, Ibsen, in this play, tries to explore the true basis of the man-woman relationship in one of its most intimate forms; marriage as, J. Larvin puts it ‘What propaganda value there is in this play at all, concerns not feminism but those ethical and spiritual factors without which marriage remains a mere ‘‘Living Together'' .
On the other hand Mother Courage and Her Children can be regarded as a tragedy, since Brecht himself simply labelled it a ‘chronicle'. As we have seen within the open panoramic and dialectical framework of epic theatre the play acquires an essential unity through the central figure of Mother Courage, who, with her wagon- the constant visual emblem of her trade and destiny- dominates the stage from beginning to end. There is also a clear tripartite structure in the ironically repeated pattern of catastrophes in which she loses