Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fiorella on Ibsen

Henrick Ibsen tried hard, but he was no Shakespeare.  His characters were skinny rather than round-- caricatures rather than characters; his plots were contrived and over-dramatic; and his stories lacked humor, charm, or fancy.  

Take Nora of A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler of the eponymous play, two of Fiorella's least-favorite leading ladies.  Nora is no forerunner of the feminist revolution: she is silly and immature and, in her quest to "find herself," ends up deserting her children.  Yes, Ibsen lays the blame on her father and husband, who supposedly cosseted and controlled her like a doll, but Nora was complicit--and stupid.  Hedda, on the other hand, is an out-and-out bitch who ends up rightfully destroying herself, leaving her foil, the self-sacrificing, more mature Thea, with her husband. 

What would The Bard have done with Dollhouse?  Maybe added a clown scene when Nora talks with the maid rather than going into the lugubrious tale of the maid's children?  Maybe had some clever punning talk between Nora and Dr. STD instead of the cautionary references to his father's indiscretions?  Maybe have made Torvald's reactions to Nora's revolt funnier?

How about Hedda?   Again, Shakespeare would have added humor--as always, it's needed to relieve tension so a new tension can build.  And he would have corrected the mawkish relationships.and one-dimensional characters.  And, as in Dollhouse, Shakespeare would have cut the inflated psychobabble to the bone and had some really dramatic scenes that stunned the audience and posterity.  Hedda's killing herself at the end was a relief.

Ibsen's plays were for their time.  Shakespeare's are for eternity.

1 comment:

Jan Hudson said...

Ho-hum. I'd rather read Lee Child or Tess Gerritsen than either of them. Of course my brow is lower than my belly button. LOL