“From Un-concealment to Nothingness: Nihilism in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Zainabu Jallo’s Onions Make Us Cry”

Chigbu Andrew Chigbu, Gideon Uzoma Umezurike, Chibuzo Onunkwo


Despite the century and three-decade gap between them, Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s Houseand Zainabu Jallo’s Onions Make Us Cry have often been studied for their indebtedness to two movements that have shaped human history and conditioned contemporary thoughts: the former as a play that inaugurates the modernist discuss in literature and pioneered the feminist subject, and the latter expressively reflecting this gender-based discourse. However, the position of this study is that aside the woman question, the texts share some other important elements. They both provoke the question of being and existence: the being of human reality and of truth. In Ibsen and Jallo, we witness Nora’s and Malinda’s experience of existential structures, their perspectival grappling with the perceptual realities of their existence, the psychological alteration that comes with this ontic awareness, and how the perception of ‘what is’ moves one to revolt against ‘what has been’. The plays are seen as capturing nihilism, what Cunningham calls the unmaking of formed things and the making of formless things. This essay is thus an existential explication of the “speak out” phenomenon as the culmination of a long but unsteady process of existential change which, in both plays, climaxes in the embracing of nihilism. Our inquiry is, therefore, grounded on an existential phenomenological approach derived from Nietzschean and Heideggerian philosophies.


Existence, Phenomena, Unconcealment, Becoming, Nihilism, Authenticity, Potentiality

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.7n.4p.138


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