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A Dolls House and the Well Made Play

            Discuss the relation of Ibsens’ early realist dramas to the piece bien faite.
             Henrik Ibsen is considered by many as one of the greatest contributors to modern theatre. However for the majority of his life he lived as a failure. He lived through poverty, scandal and rejection from society. The theatre he had run, the Norwegian Theatre in Bergen had closed, and none of his plays were a success. It was during his time as director there however, that he absorbed techniques that unexpectedly proved vital to his career. His own plays he performed there were failures, and as such he was forced to produce plays he considered mindless and of little importance, such as the comedies of Eugene Scribe. These plays were written using his formula for the “piece-bien faite”. In this essay I will be discussing how Ibsen drew from this formula and adapted it into something far greater than the sum of it’s parts. For the purposes of this essay I will be discussing “A Doll’s House”, probably Ibsen’s best known work.
             The term “piece bien faite” was coined by Eugene Scribe to articulate the formula he devised for the writing of a well made play. These manufactured plays were written purely for entertainment and the majority of them were comedies. This formula relied heavily on conscious theatricalism, in which theatre conventions are not only employed but purposely fore grounded. These conventions include a withheld secret to be revealed in a climatic scene, and often centres around an object such as a mislaid letter. Suspense is built through meticulous plotting and the play follows a strict logic of cause and effect. The success of this formula is largely due to its form and structure. Ibsen took this form and structure and turned it from a source of amusement into a modern tragedy.
             The plot structure of “A Doll’s House” does adhere to the points of the “piece bien faite” at a base level.