Authors Name: 
Kerry Brennan
University: 
Trinity College, University of Dublin
Category: 
Literature
Highly commended

‘Home is where the heart is’: A consideration of the relationship between emotional states and stage spaces in A Doll’s House and A Streetcar Named Desire

This essay examines the homes on the stage of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire. Their respective protagonists, Nora and Blanche, are greatly affected by these homes that smother, stifle and, ultimately, force them out. The relationship between home on the stage and the mental states of the characters, these two women in particular, is negative, and this essay focuses upon the representation of this relationship. Set design, music and lighting of both plays is examined, along with the impact of these dramatic techniques upon the emotional states of the characters, and vice versa. Stereotypical gender roles are exaggerated in these homes, furthering the negative impact of the home upon the women who occupy them. With reference to multiple other works that also depict a negative domestic space, this essay aims to show how the homes of Ibsen and Williams’s plays here create, rather than the traditional domestic attributes of safety and protection, feelings of suicide and entrapment.