In“A Doll’s House” by Ibsen, and the story “Chrysanthemums" by Steinbeck, talk about the role of the author.Is it effective? Give specific examples from each of the texts to support your...

In“A Doll’s House” by Ibsen, and the story “Chrysanthemums" by Steinbeck, talk about the role of the author.

Is it effective? Give specific examples from each of the texts to support your responses.

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

[eNotes editors are only permitted to answer one question at a time. Additional questions must be placed in separate postings.]

The role of the author of a story, play or poem, is to speak to the audience in some way. The purpose of the author may not be known, or he or she may comment upon it.

However, the truth of any piece of art is that it takes on a life of its own when its creator sends it into the world, becoming something different for every person exposed to it based upon the diverse experiences each reader brings to the story.

In Henrik Ibsen's play, A Doll's House, and John Steinbeck's "Chrysanthemums," the author's role is self-chosen. Each man has a story to tell with a theme, a life-truth, that he believes the world should consider.

For example, Ibsen explained that his play was not about women's rights, but about human rights, and this can be seen when we examine society’s expectations and limitations of women (Nora and Kristine), and also men (Krogstad). Ibsen points out the sense of superiority society exerts upon women to be subservient, as well as that of "inferior" men (one who makes mistakes).

If the story connects on a personal level, whether the reader agrees or disagrees, it is effective. However, strangely enough, a piece of art is like a living thing. It can speak to its "audience" in different ways, depending upon where a person is in his or her personal “journey” through life.

For example, when I first read Ibsen's play (and I've done so many times), I saw it as a instrument to point out how poorly women have been treated within "civilized" society over the years. My first response was that Torvald was a selfish egotist who could not value his wife as an individual, even though she saved his life; he cared more about his personal reception within society. I believed that Nora had the right to find herself and realize her own potential because she had never had the opportunity to freely decide who she wanted to be.

While I still think Torvald is an egotist, my perceptions of Nora have changed. Since becoming a mother, I find it very difficult to reconcile Nora's choice to leave her children behind in order to find herself. Torvald is a jerk, but this should have no bearing upon Nora's important role as a parent. She could have stayed in her marriage with a new understanding between her and her husband—he offers to live as siblings. She could have had an enormous influence in raising strong sons and daughters, but she leaves. Ibsen's message to me has changed. Is his story effective? Yes. It challenges me to ascertain what I believe.

In "Chrysanthemums," I find Steinbeck's story effectively speaks to me years after it was written, even while I am in a different society than the one for which he wrote the story.

Eliza is a woman who has never had the opportunity to be her own person, and I sympathize. Her sense of loss in being patronized by a man, even one as unimportant to her social circle as the tinker, has a devastating effect. I can also understand this. She realizes more acutely than ever before that while she wishes she could be a free spirit, she is not, and never will be in the male-dominated world in which she lives.

This story speaks to anyone who has been brushed aside because of a discernible social marker that places limitations upon people, including race, gender, religion, etc.

Making people think, care and/or learn makes authors effective.


Read the study guide:
A Doll's House

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question