How can we interpret these plays, Slam the Door Softly by C.B. Luce and A Doll's House, by H. Ibsen in terms of feminist point of view?

1 Answer | Add Yours

Top Answer

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Both A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, and Slam the Door Softly, by Clare Boothe Luce, are written with a feminist viewpoint for both of the female protagonists.

Ironically, Henrik Ibsen, author of A Doll's House, did not consider himself a advocate of feminism.

Ibsen believed that women were best suited to be mothers and wives, but at the same time, he had an eye for injustice, and Helmer's demeaning treatment of Nora was a common problem. Although he would later be embraced by feminists, Ibsen was no champion of women's rights; he only dealt with the problem of women's rights as a facet of the realism within his play.

And while Ibsen was simply attempting to draw attention to the mistreatment of women as a source of social injustice by way of Nora Helmer's life, the play has become a literary "anthem" of a woman "wronged" by her husband who decides to go into the world alone to "find herself."

Ibsen's play provides us with the character of Torvald Helmer who has little consideration for his wife's intelligence, maturity or capabilities. His concern is more about his own reputation than the importance of being alive—especially in the male-dominated society of which he is a willing part.

Clare Boothe Luce wrote Slam the Door Softly in 1970. It was her last play. Something of an early feminist herself, she did not follow a traditional path, as a woman born at the beginning of the 20th Century. To help support her family, she became a "call girl." In 1919, she became interested in the "suffrage movement" (early women's  rights movement, pushing to receive the right to vote). She ultimately became a journalist and writer, and later, a politician as a member of the House of Representatives, representing a district in Connecticut.

Whereas Ibsen writes about a woman's search for personal freedom, Clare Boothe Luce lives it. Slam the Door Softly is a modern version of Ibsen's play. Thaw Wald (the Torvald Helmer character) is sitting his chair when his wife Nora (the Nora Helmer character) enters with bags packed, ready to leave her husband. We get the sense that he doesn't know enough about his wife to anticipate that she might need more than their relationship provides.

This is much like Ibsen's conclusion to his play. In both cases, the women have decided they must leave home to try to find true happiness. Like Torvald, Thaw cannot conceptualize that his wife intends to leave. In fact, both men believe their wives should be perfectly satisfied with their life and not have any reason to be unhappy.

The biggest difference between the two stories is that in A Doll's House, when Nora leaves, there is the sense she will not return, although Torvald wonders, as the door closes, whether a miracle could occur. However, in Slam the Door Softly, Nora departs, but the audience realizes that the husband and wife still love each other, and there is hope that perhaps after a time, they will be reunited—if both are willing to work at it.

 

Additional source:

http://www.playdatabase.com/play.asp?play=D83021D6-0083-4F3F-BA07-26F99A103B12

 

We’ve answered 318,966 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question