I went to Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” at the University a time back. They did a good job with it; the set was beautiful; the actor’s owned their parts. I was amazed.
There are many aspects to this play, but the one that spoke to me was that of communication, specifically, communication between men and women. This is a topic that goes all the way back to the book of Genesis. Since there were men and women to have conversations, they’ve had trouble talking to each other.
Every conversation consists of three parts: A sender, a receiver, and the channel between the two. The sender has his set of symbols, the receiver has his, and the channel in-between has a certain amount of noise it in.
This can be captured with a joke that my mother told me. A man with a wooden eye was looking for love, but he’d had trouble because the women he knew were put off by his wooden eye. At a party, he was introduced to a woman who was in a similar situation to his own because she had very large ears.
“Would you like to go out with me?” he asked.
With enthusiasm she replied, “Wouldn’t I!”
Because of the noise in the room, he heard, “Wooden eye!” To this he replied nastily, “Big ears!” and stalked away.
This illustrates that we have our own symbols, so we hear what we are prepared to hear, and this is exacerbated by all the noise between us, but it also brings up the topic of “image.” The man’s wooden eye gives him a certain image.
Our image is the way we are seen. We are often very concerned about our images. While it is important to pay attention to our images, to know how we are perceived, We can’t let this concern about our image break us.
For those of you who have seen the play, this is what happens to both the male and the female leads, they create a Doll House of an image of their lives to show the world. It causes the male lead of the play (Torvald) to alienate his wife (Nora), and it causes Nora to leave him and her children.
Nora and Torvald are contrasted nicely by Mrs. Linde and Krogstad. These are characters who each have blemished images: Mrs. Linde appears to have been somewhat mercenary in a loveless marriage, and Krogstad is, at first blush, the villain of this play. However, at the end, we recognize them--while being unattractive from the outside--honest about reality and honest with each other. With regard to their images, Bob Dylan said it best: If you ain’t got nothin’, you’ve got nothin’ to lose.
The two couples are well-matched: Nora and Torvald struggling to maintain a good image for the outside to see, letting reality be damned; Mrs. Linde and Krogstad choosing the work to create a shared life, letting what the world thinks of them be damned.
Every couple is a mixture of these two to some degree. I know which I like best.
— Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.