World Lit 1

World Lit 1

An exploration into the notion of imprisonment in A Doll’s House and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich.

People are being imprisoned by many different ways. The theme of imprisonment is observed throughout A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. By studying the theme of imprisonment in these two books, we can learn about how the characters are being held prisoners, the ways in which they react and deal with it and the outcome of their imprisonment.

Ibsen’s A Doll’s House gives us an image of Nora being imprisoned in her own home. Nora is being imprisoned by many people. Since young, she’s being imprisoned by her father who expects her to do everything he says and to live up to his expectations. Following her marriage, her imprisonment deeds are passed from her father to her husband, Torvald. Also, along the play, she becomes imprisoned by yet someone else – Krogstad. Similarly, Solzhenitsyn’s One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich tells of Ivan (Shukhov) being held a political war prisoner in a “special” labor camp.

One of the motives of imprisonment is to dehumanize the prisoners, to degrade them as much as possible. Both authors provide the readers with a strong sense of dehumanization. Throughout the play, Torvald is constantly giving Nora pet names – lark, squirrel1. Not only is that enough, but he adds “little2” in front of those names. Giving pet names to someone might be seen as an act of affection. However, it degrades the person to the level of animals. In addition, the word “little” re-emphasizes the degradation of that person, implying that he or she is of a much lower level than you are. Similarly in Solzhenitsyn’s novel, Shukhov’s actual name is being replaced by the alphabet and numbers – S8541. It is as though the prisoners are products found in a catalog. Names like these are a form of degradation, which is extremely prone in imprisonment.

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