Authors Different Uses of Literary Devices

by Jimmie Turner
In both A Dollís House and The Crucible the authors, Ibsen and Miller, respectively, used many ways to express their ideas through their writing. In the play A Dollís House, Ibsen used a lot of conflict between central characters to express his ideas. While in The Crucible, Miller used highly developed characters as a way to express his ideas. In the two plays the authors used different ways to express their ideas and to set the pace of the story.

Conflict between characters is very important to the story and the social message sent in A Dollís House. One major conflict in the play was between Nora, the main character, and Torvald, her husband. Torvald used Nora, throughout the play, to show his social status. This conflict illustrated the belief of the time period that anything the woman did reflected on the husband and affected his social status. An example of this in A Dollís House was Noraís dance at a party. Torvald was very excited about this dance and he tried hard to get Nora to dance well. It was obvious that the dance was more important to Torvald then it was to Nora.

Another conflict that helped conclude the play was when Torvald found out about Noraís forging of her fatherís signature on a bank loan statement. Torvaldís response ruined the relationship between him and his wife, the following is Torvaldís response: "Youíve completely wrecked my happiness, youíve ruined my whole future! ... You will remain here in my house -- that goes without saying -- but I shall not allow you to bring up the children."(Ibsen 221-2)

A third conflict in the play was between Nora and Krogstad, the banker who allowed her to take out a loan in her fatherís name. This conflict controlled much of the play, Krogstad used the fact that he knew about Noraís forgery to blackmail Nora. Krogstad had been fired from his job at the bank where Torvald was the boss. Krogstad wanted the job back and tried to use his knowledge of Noraís forgery to get her to get his job back. This act of blackmail led to the conflict between Nora and Torvald in the previous example. Which also led to the collapse of Torvald and Noraís marriage. Ibsen also used this conflict to send his message of unfair inequality between men and women. The fact that women could not take out a loan caused the general problem in the play. Ibsen used the conflicts throughout the play to illustrate his beliefs that women were being treated unfairly.

Judge Danforth from The Crucible is a great example of Millerís descriptive characterization. Danforth was considered by many, including himself, the ultimate authority in Salem because he was in control of the witch trials. He thinks highly of himself because he controls whether people live or die. An example of Danforthís authority, that shows how highly he thinks of himself, is his statement to Francis Nurse: "And do you know that near to four hundred are in the jails from Marblehead to Lynn, and upon my signature? ... And seventy-two condemned to hang by that signature?"(Miller 87) Danforth said this to prove that he was in control of the trials and to show how important he was. This shows that Danforth was in control of the trails and he did not want his authority to be questioned.

Danforth got very angry, throughout the play, whenever his authority was questioned by other people involved in the trial. For example, when Hale told Danforth that he could not sign the death warrants unless he had more evidence, Danforth said, "Mr. Hale, you surely do not doubt my justice."(Miller 99) Danforth was offended by Haleís statement. Again, when Danforth thought judge Hathorne was questioning his ability to run the trial, he became angry. "That is precisely what I am about to consider, sir. What more may you ask of me? Unless you doubt my probity."(Miller 100) This shows that Danforth was not willing to accept any advice from his assistants. It also shows that Danforth wanted credit for all of the ideas. He did not want anyone to think that another judge was as smart as he was. This reinforces the fact that Danforth did not want to be questioned about his authority; he thought that he was the ultimate authority and nobody should question that.

As well as thinking very highly of himself, Danforth stood very strongly behind his decisions and beliefs. He could not question his beliefs, or change his mind. Danforth thought that, if he did, people would question his authority even more. In the following monologue Danforth shows how he stands behind his decision to hang John Proctor and others who have been convicted as witches. It also shows how he thought of himself, he thought that he was so important and that he was speaking for God.

Twelve are already executed; the names of these seven are given out, and the village expects to see them die this morning. Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now. While I speak Godís law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering."(Miller 129)

This illustrates that Danforth thought that he was doing the right thing, and that he thought he was speaking for God. Danforth believes that his authority was granted by God; that is why he thought he was speaking for God. Danforthís authority was used, by Miller, to represent the oppressive actions of the government committee during the Communist trials in the 1960ís.

In The Crucible and A Dollís House the authors used different ways to express their beliefs. Arthur Miller, author of The Crucible, used highly developed characters to express his ideas, Danforth was an example of this highly developed character. Henrik Ibsen, author of A Dollís House, used conflict between important, central characters to express his beliefs in his womenís oppression.


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Updated 06/18/00