Ibsens Alternate Endings for A Dolls House Essay

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Although only one ending to the play A Dolls House by Heinrik Ibsen is widely known, Ibsen was forced to write an alternative ending, as many discontented directors wanted a happier ending to the play (Jens-Morten Hanssen). The alternate ending contains a very different message. In the original ending (see Appendix 1), Nora leaves her husband Torvald Helmer and her children behind simply to get away from Helmer’s overpowering and controlling actions towards her. This is very different to the alternate ending (see Appendix 2), where Nora feels obliged to stay with her husband for the sake of her children. This alternate ending seems to have an opposite resolution and message compared to the original ending.

This essay will take the unusual approach of extending the plot of the alternate ending further, creating an additional scene based on a logical understanding of the characters and the overall direction of the rest of the play. This will be a creative element in what is otherwise an analytical essay. Using this creative device, this essay will argue that Ibsen’s alternate ending was not really an ending; that it would ultimately have led to the same inevitable outcome as the original - the separation of Nora and Helmer, the two main characters.

Not only does the alternate ending fail to depict the message of liberal feminism that is shown through the original ending, the alternate ending is not consistent with the direction of the rest of the play. For example, Nora’s reason for staying in the alternate ending is her children. However, she shows little evidence of strong maternal instinct throughout the play. Indications of this can be seen much earlier in the action, when Nora is talking to her Nurse about her own childhood:

“NURSE: Poor little Miss Nora, you never had any mother but me.
NORA:   And if my little ones had no one else, I know you would (…) go back to them, Anne Marie.” (Page 56)

This shows the audience that Nora is considering...

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