Guide to Literary Terms

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What is realism and how does Ibsen use it in A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler?

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Realism is the literary technique that is used to describe each story element, i.e., setting, character traits, etc. without the use of elaborated imagery, or using literary elements such as metaphor or figurative language. The author will explain things exactly as they are without "sugar coating" or decorating the language, nor the attributes being described.

In A Doll's House, Ibsen uses mainly every secondary character to contrast dramatically with main character Nora. This is a clever and effective technique.  While Nora spends her days glorifying her marriage, and lionizing her husband, there is a network of people who surround her that have to endure life for what it really is.

Mrs. Linde has lost a husband, is alone, has no money, needs a job, and has none of the wonderful opportunities that Nora claims to see waiting for her own self.

... now I am quite alone in the world— my life is so dreadfully empty and I feel so forsaken. There is not the least pleasure in working for one's self....

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