Category: Book Reviews


Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen has been known for his approach of interpersonal relationships and for being a decisive contribution to the modern-realistic movement in literature back in the 1860’s.

Ibsen represents the traditional roles of husband and wife in A Doll’s House, a close view into Nora and Torvald Helmer’s married life and their essential differences when it comes to personal interests and money. Nora is repressed and must abide by her dominant husband as well by the social establishing of duties she must follow as a wife, mostly characterized by dependence and disadvantage.

Conceptually, it is a struggle between security, independence and deliverance. It is highly pioneering as it explores marriage, considered an intimately private institution yet at the same time subject to wide social scrutiny. It focuses on themes concerning class and gender relations in a naturalist language, as well as interpersonal interactions and stereotypical characteristics of the time it was written.

A Doll’s House relies on symbolism and metaphors shifting from general social apprehensions to the seclusion of an individual (Nora). It is a modern realistic play loosely on women’s rights. It addresses recurrent belief in male’s power, control and dominance as well as husband’s superiority over wives, mostly when it comes to monetary possession; evident in constant metaphors and references to frail creatures to signify Nora, such as ‘little skylark’, ‘little squirrel’ and ‘featherhead’, alongside other deprecating terms as ‘spendthrift’; emphasizing women’s gender inferiority.

Nora’s decision and ‘door slam’ in the play took the lead in a movement and debate over women’s civil liberties, and also raised awareness on strict male ideologies, giving a chance to women to stand before a male-favoring context and accomplishing sole identity instead of living in the shadow of a male figure. It may seem as an early feministic work, as it obviously privileges women in its content and message, but A Doll’s House is beyond feminism and common gender issues, as it questions and tackles what is pushing it forward concerning social customs and the idea of love. It also allows the reader to go over personal subjugations, not exactly those under gender, but other personal restrictions which one must liberate from, which also bind and limit one’s existence just like Nora’s in the play.

Ibsen’s play was innovative and on its time. The use of symbolism is at its qualified best, and effectively conveys Ibsen’s vision of what women had to put up with their husbands at a time when wives’ roles were not functional but mostly served as luxury.

★★★★1/2

C.Perez

Ernest Hemingway’s last published work, The Old Man & the Sea, recounts a fisherman’s heroic endeavor in fishing an oversize marlin after eighty-four days of unsuccessful fishing efforts.

It sets its time in Cuba, with Santiago, a fisher and an American baseball fanatic, as the protagonist figure. Santiago’s life revolves around newspapers, sun-burnt skin, coffee and the ocean. His condition would have no meaning other than his besieged heart, fervor and commitment to his occupation as a fisherman.

He is often visited by Manolin, a youngster who admires the old man and joins him whenever he sails. After proving idle to the people in town and other fisherman, Santiago is unable to sail with Manolin under his parents’ deterrence, so he sets on a journey to decidedly pull a fish out of the water. He encounters an immense marlin, and must bear with extreme impediments on his way back to shore, which will put to test what he and his heart are really made of.

Hemingway’s writing is most simple in this piece but highly symbolic. It hits the reader hard with ease, lean subtlety and a message laid underneath. It seems more of an extended short story other than an actual novel, considerably categorized as a novella instead. Just like Hemingway’s previous work, The Old Man & the Sea is not an ‘in your face’ sort of narrative, but does its job as a philosophical insight enhancer for the reader.

The book premise is touching and relatable, in the sense one can be seen in similar situations in a different context, for example, divergence, nuisance and desolation. It is a vivid representation of what men are capable of, if they really put their heart on their deeds; it reaffirms men are able to achieve more than they can possibly imagine. It is a bright account of the struggles of the human condition, highlighting will power, passion, honor, endurance, perseverance, dedication and both faith and belief, at a stumble upon furthermost despair.

It is a thrilling narrative, which makes one reflect and realize about the nature of humanity and how determined and devoted men can be under the right circumstances and the right decisions. It is most inspiring and optimistic.

Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1952, Hemingway’s last print is an instant treasured classic.

★★★★★

C.Perez